Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)


Department: Archaeology


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Scientific Methods in Archaeology 1 (ARCH1041), Applied Archaeological Methods (ARCH1081), Ancient Civilisations: Sources, Approaches & Methods (ARCH1151) or Historical and Archaeological Methods & Sources (ARCH1161).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • * All modules marked with this symbol form part of an Accredited CIfA pathway
  • The module presents the scientific procedures and methods that form the basis of a selection of key archaeological science techniques including: data analysis, scientific dating methods, geophysical techniques, materials analysis and palaeoenvironmental analysis.
  • To provide an insight into the principles of such techniques from a theoretical standpoint and relate this discussion to experimental methods used and the interpretation of the results.


  • The module offers students training in the theoretical and applied aspects of methods employed in archaeological science drawn from the following themes: dating, human palaeoecology, materials and prospection.
  • The relationship between the theoretical principles and experimental procedures of techniques employed is explained, together with the different types of data obtained and approaches to their analysis.
  • These aspects are examined in the context of current applications of the method as presented in the current research literature.
  • The module is taught by lectures, seminars and tutorials.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module the student will:
  • Have an understanding of the theoretical basis of several key areas of archaeological science methods and their application to archaeological problems
  • Be able to describe and comment on the balance between theory, observation and interpretation in the selected areas of archaeological science research.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Gain core skills pertaining to archaeological science including the selection of appropriate survey, compositional, dating and metric methods for analysing archaeological sites and materials.
  • Gain core skills pertaining to archaeological science including the interpretation of elemental composition, taphonomic, geophysical and dating data.
Key Skills:
  • Develop competence in transferable skills such as independent research and effective written communication of complex scientific and archaeological issues.
  • Comply with organisation and legal requirements in the collection of data.
  • Collect information to achieve research objectives.
  • Record and reference information accurately and clearly in an appropriate format.
  • Present results in a manner appropriate to the audience.
  • Acknowledge appropriately all sources of information.
  • Qualify research findings where data are insufficient.

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, tutorials, a formative essay, seminars and self-guided learning.
  • It is assessed through summative essay and an unseen exam.
  • 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.
  • Seminars comprise structured oral and visual presentations and discussions of archaeological material, methods and theories, within medium-sized groups, enabling students to deepen their knowledge, to take responsibility for independent study.
  • 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. The module also enables students to explore how archaeologists produce evidence about the past, develop theories to explain it, and how archaeological evidence may subsequently be reinterpreted.
  • All modules marked with * form part of an Accredited CIfA pathway

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 6 3 Per Term (Term 1 and Term 2) 2 Hours 12
Tutorials 6 3 Per Term (Term 1 and Term 2) 1 Hour 6
Seminars 3 3 in Term 2 2 Hours 6
Revision 1 1 in Term 3 2 Hours 2
Preparation and Reading 174
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 33%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3000 words 100%
Component: Summative Assessment Component Weighting: 67%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 2 hour exam paper 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