Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)

Module ARCH2171: Introduction to Field Archaeology and Medieval Studies

Department: Archaeology

ARCH2171: Introduction to Field Archaeology and Medieval Studies

Type Tied Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2018/19 Module Cap Location Durham
Tied to


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To act as a practical introduction to basic field archaeology skills.
  • To act as an introduction to medieval studies.


  • This module provides a broad range of skills and information relevant to archaeological fieldwork techniques primarily acquired through practical experience on an archaeological excavation but supported by additional lectures and fieldtrips.
  • It also provides a broad range of skills relevant to the techniques of medieval studies including but not limited to source commentary and criticism, textual analysis, historiography, oral discussion and written argument. These are acquired through study of a combination of topics from: (a) Saints, Scholars and Vikings: the Northern World in the Early Middle Ages; (b) Land of the Prince Bishops: Culture and Conquest in the High Middle Ages; (c) Age of Chivalry; (d) Inside the Medieval Mind. The topics available in any one year are subject to staff availability.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the module, the student will have:
  • demonstrated their understanding of the role of fieldwork in archaeological research and appreciated the inter-relationship of theory and practice in the archaeological process.
  • Participated in a group fieldwork project, reflected on its outcome, and learned how and when to deploy particular techniques of investigation and recording.
  • acquired the ability to identify and analyse a range of different archaeological materials and data
  • demonstrated an understanding of the techniques of medieval studies as they pertain to the topics undertaken, and familarity with the sources scrutinised
  • participated in class discussion and in all assessments, deploying techniques and knowledge gained in independent and directed study of the medieval subjects chosen
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Develop a broad range of core technical and interpretive skills pertaining to archaeological fieldwork and post-fieldwork analysis.
  • For archaeological fieldwork: surveying, excavation, recording and safety standards.
  • For medieval studies: close-reading and criticial thinking.
Key Skills:
  • Develop competence in interpretation of data and recognition of links with other categories of evidence.
  • Reflection and self-evaluation

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

  • The module is taught through a combination of practical excavation training, lectures, seminars and field trips
  • Field training is provided through attendance at Binchester field-school, which includes practical experience and tutoring in a range of basic archaeological excavation skills.
  • Lectures will ensure the effective communication of key information and theoretical ideas.
  • Seminars and directed independent learning will develop ideas and critical skills providing a forum for identifying the implications of primary and secondary literature.
  • Fieldtrips provide engagement with a wider range of archaeological evidence in the field.
  • The course is assessed through submission of a series of different assessments to allow diversity of assessment and development of a range of skills, and to take account of the necessarily diverse teaching format while ensuring feedback within the period of the course. The excavation related skills are assessed through submission of an annotated reflective ‘excavation diary’ recording in which students contextualise their experience of the excavation. Medieval studies critical analysis skills are assessed through an essay, the abiliyt to give a close reading of a text is assessed through a source commentary and factual knowledge of the topics covered is assessed through a quiz-format examination.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Briefing session 1 1 hours 1
Fieldwork 20 5 hours 100
Lectures 10 1.5 hours 15
Discussion seminars and directed independent learning 20 1 hour 20
Fieldtrips 3 5 hours 15
Preparation and reading 49 hours 49
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Excavation Coursework Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Excavation diary recording and reflecting on the experience of excavation 1500 words 100%
Component: Medieval studies coursework Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative esay 1000 words 50%
Source commentary 750 words 37%
Quiz-format unseen examination 1 hour 13%

Formative Assessment:

Group presentation on excavation site: explaining the feature being excavated and the reason for the choice of techniques being used.

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