Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)


Department: Archaeology


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2018/19 Module Cap


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To allow students to explore and simulate the research process in archaeological science through directed learning in the classroom and laboratory. A single practical-based research project will be undertaken, focusing on the practical and analytical aspects of a larger research project undertaken by various members of staff in the Department of Archaeology. The practical guided study topic will be in one of the four main areas of expertise in bioarchaeological research in the Department including a) biomolecular archaeology, b) zooarchaeology, c) archaeobotany and d) geoarchaeology.


  • Introductory lecture - aims and objectives of module - introducing potential research projects.
  • Deconstructing the research paper - the theory and practice of research projects in archaeological and environmental science - the idea, the research design, the funding, the data gathering and analysis, the project reporting.
  • Research design presentations - each student gives a 10 minute presentation on their research design - 1000 word summary submitted for formative assessment.
  • Student led practical laboratory research and analysis.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • The student will have gained an understanding of the intellectual and methodological basis of a particular research technique, as practised by researchers within higher education and industry.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The student will have demonstrated a general understanding of the application of scientific techniques to the issues and questions that shape the intellectual agenda of one of the main research themes of the MSc, outlined in the core module Topics in Archaeological Science'.
  • On completion of this module, the student should have;
  • 1) undertaken a clearly-defined and targeted piece of research, guided by a suitable supervisor;
  • 2) gained and experienced logistical and practical skills associated with the conduct of a research project and the presentation of research results to an appropriate audience.
  • 3) completed a research report, in the style of a scientific paper in an appropriate international peer-reviewed journal, such as Journal of Archaeological Science.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate a range of communication skills including the ability to synthesize and evaluate information obtained from a variety of sources (e.g. primary datasets, written secondary sources, oral and web sources) and communicate relevant information in different ways (e.g. written, oral, tables and graphs).
  • Demonstrate an ability to produce new archaeological science data of their own and marshal the data to answer a specific research question.
  • Demonstrate a range of numerical skills including the ability to read graphs, tables, charts; to organise date; to make inferences from data; to reflect upon the potential and limitations of numerical skills.
  • Demonstrate competence in the use of IT resources (e.g. word processing, statistical software, web-based resources).
  • Demonstrate the ability to relate experience of a field of research to professional practice.
  • Demonstrate a capacity to improve one’s own learning and performance, including the ability to manage time effectively, to work to prescribed deadlines and within a laboratory environment, to engage in different ways of learning including independent and directed forms of learning, to gather the necessary information from primary data sets, bibliographic and electronic resources, to seek and use feedback from academic staff, to monitor and critically reflect upon the learning process.

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

  • Seminars introducing students to the theory and practice of research projects in archaeological and environmental science.
  • Oral presentation of student's research design in front of module leader, project supervisor and peer-group.
  • Student-lead laboratory analysis with supervision of project supervisor.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 1 1 1
Seminars 2 2 4
Practicals 7 3 21
Preparation and Reading 274
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Research Report Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Research Report 4000 words max 100%

Formative Assessment:

Oral presentation of research project followed by 1000 word summary research design.

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