Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module ARCH42315: Practical Research and Study Skills

Department: Archaeology

ARCH42315: Practical Research and Study Skills

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2020/21


  • Research and Study Skills in Social Archaeology


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To enable students to acquire a range of practical, digital, field, laboratory and/or museum-based analytical skills and familiarity with equipment relevant to research and employment in archaeology.


  • In any year a varying range of 6-8 options of short series of laboratory- or field-and-classroom-based workshops are available. These are divided into two sets of 3-4, Set 1 running in the first part of term, Set 2 in the second part of term, each lasting for 4 weeks. Students ordinarily choose 1 from each set, although if there is no clash of timing, they may alternatively choose 2 from the same set. Workshop class options vary according to expertise available for each academic year and time in the term. The following have run in recent years and indicates the kind of topics generally available, although no specific option is guaranteed and new options may be added:
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Geophysical Surveying
  • Museum Artefact Cataloguing
  • Numismatics
  • Glass Analysis
  • Ceramics Analysis
  • Ceramic Materials Analysis
  • Architectural Spatial and Access Analysis
  • Archaeological Illustration

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • In depth knowledge of specific materials, methods of recording and analysis, research resources and conventions of presentation pertinent to them.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to use tools for investigating, recording, analysing and researching aspects of environment and material culture pertinent to the specific options selected; for example, geographic software, materials analysis machines, microscopes, iconographic analysis, drawing, and cataloguing and research report conventions.
Key Skills:
  • Experience with various digital and manual analytical tools
  • Time and intellectual organisation in preparing written and visual presentation of analysis

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

  • Taught through laboratory- or museum-based workshops, and/or field trips
  • Students sign up for 2 options, 1 each from 2 sets of 3-4 options available in any given year (or alternatively, if class timings allow, 2 from the same set). Options may be capped and available on a first come first serve basis
  • Workshops run for c. 2.5 hours per week over four weeks, although some will differ according to fieldwork components
  • Workshops and field work sessions introduce students to materials and analytical tools, and guide them in how to use them in practice-based projects
  • Assessment takes the form of two summative assignments, consisting of one 1,500 word report on each workshop plus relevant supporting materials (e.g. visual or digital outputs).

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshop 1 4 Weekly for 4 weeks 2.5 hours 10
Workshop 2 4 Weekly for 4 weeks 2.5 hours 10
Preparation and Reading 130
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Assignment 1,500 words 100% Yes
Component: Assingment Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Assignment 1,500 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Students have the opportunity to submit a draft outline of their reports and receive one-to-one feedback from workshop tutors during their office hours, or written feedback via email.

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