Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)


Department: Archaeology


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Module Cap
Tied to F4K007


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to the theory and practice of topographic and geophysical surveying, and the properties of rocks and soils which are exploited in the detection of sub-surface structures.


  • Lectures:
  • Instruments and basic field procedures
  • Co-ordinate systems and control networks
  • Theory of electrical and magnetic prospection (x2)
  • Practicals:
  • Introduction to processing topographic survey data
  • Topographic survey in the field (4 hours)
  • Processing field data
  • Laboratory simulations of electrical and magnetic surveys
  • Geophysical surveys in the field (eight hours)
  • Processing and interpreting geophysical data.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An understanding of the principles of topographic surveying
  • An understanding of the principles of geophysical prospection
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The ability to carry out topographic surveys using modern surveying instruments (total stations and GPS equipment)
  • The ability to carry out archaeological geophysical surveys using electrical and magnetic instruments
  • The ability to use specialised IT methods to process the resulting data and produce archaeological interpretations.
Key Skills:
  • The ability to use electronic instruments to collect field data and merge the processed results with existing mapping (from the OD or other sources).

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures introduce the core subject knowledge
  • Practical classes introduce instruments and software applications
  • Fieldwork allows students to develop skills in using the instruments and software in a real environment
  • All learning outcomes are assessed by a portfolio of work.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 4 1 per fortnight 1 hour 4
Practicals 4 Approx 1 per week 2 hours 8
Fieldwork 6 Approx 1 per week 2 hours 12
Preparation & Reading 276
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Portfolio Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Results of tolographic survey integrated with Ordnance Survey data 40%
A laboratory report on the results of geophysical survey experiments 20%
A report of a magnetic and an electrical survey plus and archaeological interpretation 40%

Formative Assessment:

An essay (max. 1500 words) on the principles of geophysical prospection.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University