Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module ARCH2181: Developing Archaeological Research*

Department: Archaeology

ARCH2181: Developing Archaeological Research*

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


  • At least 40 credits of Archaeology modules at Level 1.


  • At least 20 credits of Archaeology modules at Level 2

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • * All modules marked with this symbol form part of an Accredited CIfA pathway
  • To provide students with an understanding based on theoretical and practical experience, of:
  • the preparation of a research design for a piece of independent work.
  • a range of practical skills necessary for carrying out archaeological research.
  • basic skills in graphics, illustration and presentation techniques.
  • basic theoretical techniques for the conceptual framework of the research design.


  • This module provides a broad range of skills and information relevant to designing and carrying out a programme of archaeological research, specifically the 3rd year Dissertation, including research design, theoretical background in archaeology, practical and presentational skills.
  • Students are introduced to research design and information sources for research and their understanding of the links between research and practical skills are strengthened. Students then carry out further practical training in skills that may support their dissertation.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of approaches to designing and carrying out a programme of archaeological research.
  • Knowledge of the theories, practical methods and approaches to developing research.
  • Knowledge of equipment and appropriate clothing.
  • Knowledge of investigation methods and safety arrangements.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to produce a research design for a substantial piece of independent archaeological research.
  • Ability to identify, access and analyse a range of different archaeological materials, sources and data.
  • Ability to provide a clear explanation of the purpose of research.
  • Ability to engage with and show awareness of theoretical concepts for the background to archaeological research.
  • An understanding of risk assessment and organisational policy around the preparation of dissertations.
Key Skills:
  • Students will develop competence in a wide range of transferable skills, including:
  • project design.
  • graphics and presentation.
  • IT skills.
  • copyright and confidentiality.
  • data handling.

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, seminars and practicals.
  • Lectures will present aspects of dissertation research design and skills.
  • Practicals enable students to gain skills relevant to field and artefact based research, as well as to other aspects of the Level 2 and Level 3 curriculum.
  • The practical portfolio assess mastery of practical and/or analytical techniques.
  • The seminar presentation allows students to gain experience of discussing their ideas with their peers.
  • The research design assesses the student's ability to produce a research design and integrate background reading with that design, and is guided by tutorials.
  • Research is embedded into the teaching of this module through the nature of the research design as an inquiry-based activity. Students develop research skills in the specialist area of the research design and have the opportunity to acquire a research ethos. 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. Through seminars students experience the process of research and develop skills in conducting archaeological research.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 9 1 or 2 per week 1.5 hours 9.5
Seminars 5 4 in term 1, 1 in term 2 1.5 hours 7.5
Practicals 2 term 2 2 hours 4
Preparation and reading 179
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Portfolio Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1500 words 50%
Practical Report 1500 words 50%
Component: Research design Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Design 3000 words 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