Archaeological Principles: Data & Theory (MSc Archaeology)


The Aims of the module are to:

  • Provide students with the necessary foundation to understand key approaches and concepts in archaeology
  • Provide a general overview of data forms and methods of analysis in archaeology
  • Provide students with the information and opportunity to develop their own research project
  • Allow students to evaluate their own learning-practice and to develop their research skills
  • Provide students with a range of opportunities to practice analytical and communication skills

The Archaeological Principles module is intended to promote and develop skills relevant to the degree as a whole, and to develop students’ understanding of how disciplinary knowledge is developed and articulated. It aims to prepare all students equally in core skills and knowledge essential for vocational training in the field of archaeology.

Classes will be a mix of lectures, seminars, and sessions which will focus on data and geographical information systems. Lectures will provide introductions to key concepts in the history of archaeological enquiry and debates. In the later part of the module four archaeological concepts will be the focus: time, environment, contact, and material culture. Themes within these concepts will form the basis of investigation and group presentations by students. The development of research skills is also a central part of this module, and there will be an emphasis on project preparation and bibliographic research skills.

The assessment for the module will take the form of a portfolio of work that will be carried out for, during and after classes. This will include student’s own self-reflections on their work practices; students will be encouraged to consider how they currently carry out learning or tasks and to identify ways in which they can improve in the future.

All students on the MSc Archaeology programme take the module taught in Michaelmas Term (Term 1).

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the module students will be able to:

  • Describe sources of evidence and methods used in archaeological enquiry
  • Understand the relevance of archaeological data and theory in their own work
  • Evaluate and critique debates on archaeological theories and methods
  • Assemble, organise and use sources of data (including bibliographic references)
  • Manipulate and analyse data
  • Understand the importance of planning and project design
  • Develop a research proposal for their own dissertation
  • Apply knowledge and skills developed in this module to the rest of their course

Students will also have developed:

  • metacognitive skills
  • teamwork skills
  • oral presentation skills
  • subject specific skills, including:
    • searching for archaeological literature
    • gathering and managing sources and data
    • basic knowledge of ArcGIS Pro
    • basic knowledge of SPSS/Tableau