Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)


Department: Archaeology


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap Location Durham


  • None; only available to students taking the BSc (Hons) Archaeology [F402] or to students in the Faculty of Science.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • Ancient Civilisations: Sources, Approaches and Methods (ARCH1151), Historical and Archaeological Methods & Sources (ARCH1161) and Applied Archaeological Methods (ARCH1081) may not be taken after or with this module.


  • * All modules marked with this symbol form part of an Accredited CIfA pathway
  • To provide students with a grounding in a range of scientific methods and techniques used in contemporary archaeology, and to develop a basic critical awareness of the potential and limitations of the data and its analysis when applied to archaeological problems.
  • To provide a core module for BSc Archaeology (F402).


  • Using case studies from UK and global contexts, the module introduces what an archaeologists needs to know about:
  • Archaeological excavation
  • Human remains
  • Animal and plant remains
  • Environmental and landscape archaeology
  • Material culture and conservation
  • Prospection methods
  • Dating methods
  • Applying isotopic studies
  • Applying aDNA studies

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students will have:
  • Developed a broad range of basic knowledge pertaining to scientific methods used in archaeology, including (a) biological, (b) physical, and (c) landscape and environmental.
  • Gained a basic knowledge of a range of ideas and materials that form the foundation of knowledge in archaeological science.
  • Been introduced to fundamental issues in archaeological science, through secondary literature and practice.
  • An awareness of how to select, propose and agree appropriate methods for analysis and interpretation.
  • An awareness of archaeological ethics, technical standards and investigation methods.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Applied transferable skills (detailed below) to archaeologically specific tasks and situations.
Key Skills:
  • Introduction to and participation in undertaking a number of study skills, including essay writing.
  • Basic understanding of accessing and using library, WWW and DUO resources.
  • Basic knowledge of the preparation and effective communication of data, interpretations and arguments.
  • Basic comprehension of sampling, collection, recording and interpretation of data.
  • Ascertain the procedures required to access information and ensure these are complied with.
  • Confirm requirements for analysis and interpretation.
  • Apply archaeological ethics and technical standards.
  • Identify sources and availability of information.
  • Ensure that sources of information and opinion used to inform research and analysis are investigated critically.

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 lectures, problem classes, tutorials, formative essays and self-guided learning.
  • It is assessed through an essay and an examination.
  • Lectures will ensure the effective communication of key information and theoretical ideas, supported by reading lists and written summaries of follow-up notes posted on DUO, enabling students to gain up-to-date knowledge, as well as guidance on further reading.
  • Tutorials will focus on discussion and feedback between tutors and students in small groups, in a relatively informal learning environment, enabling students to enhance, discuss, question and receive feedback on their knowledge and to gain experience in oral communication and collaborative group-work.
  • Problem classes will include exercises designed to practise and develop skills in numerical data analysis, providing a deeper understanding of the quantitative analysis of archaeological data.
  • Self-guided learning comprises personal study, research, revision and evaluation associated with classes and assignments; guided by lecturers, tutors and reading lists of specialist books, articles and web-sites.
  • Research is embedded into the teaching of this module through the expertise of the lecturers and tutors. The examples and topics chosen within the curriculum will derive from the specialist research interests of the staff teaching the module, and students are introduced to the results of the research of their teachers as well as the wider context of the subject.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1-2 Per Week 1 Hour 22
Tutorials 4 1 Hour 4
Problem classes 4 1 Hour 4
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 33%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1500 words 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 67%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written examination 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment may include a range of quizzes, short answer tests and other short assignments related to the learning outcomes of the module.

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