The University of Southampton
HumanitiesPostgraduate study

ARCH6082 Computer Aided Design for Archaeology

Module Overview

This module aims to introduce students to the theory and practice of generating two and three-dimensional compuer representations of archaeological data using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software.

Students studying computer aided design, 3d computer graphics and other multimedia methods may opt to take the examinations for four Autodesk certifications at the end of their studies.  The cost of this is included in the related masters modules within the Archaeology department.

Co-ordinator: Dr Graeme Earl and Miss Penny Copeland

Aims and Objectives

Aims and Learning Outcomes 

The aims of this module are to:

  • introduce you to the theory and practice of generating two and three-dimensional computer representations of archaeological data using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software
  • introduce you to the specifics of using CAD.


Objectives (planned learning outcomes)

Knowledge and understanding

Having successfully completed the module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of: 

  • the theory and practice of generating two and three-dimensional computer representations of archaeological data in CAD software
  • CAD software techniques


Cognitive (thinking) skills

Having successfully completed the module, you will be able to:

  • critique and present your own production of two and three-dimensional computer representations of archaeological data using CAD software
  • theorise, plan and develop creative CAD solutions to archaeological problems


Practical, subject-specific skills

Having successfully completed the module, you will be able to:

  • gather, document and refine archaeological data for use within two and three-dimensional computing approaches.
  • apply CAD techniques
  • understand the issues involved in the use of CAD by and for archaeologists.
  • work through the planning, design, implementation, and evaluation stages of a CAD approach to two and three-dimensional archaeological data
  • apply CAD skills learned in relation to archaeology to other related subject areas.


Key transferable skills

Having successfully completed the module, you will be able to:

  • use three dimensional CAD software.
  • learn and apply new CAD skills through self-study
  • document CAD software approaches.


By the end of the module you will have the ability to use advanced Computer Aided Design (CAD) methods, including familiarity with AutoCAD. You will also understand the range of applications CAD technologies in archaeology and the implications of these uses. You will be required to develop your archaeological writing and analytical skills in addition to the practicalities of CAD, and to think critically about its role in the production of specific archaeological representations. You will also produce clear reports explaining and supporting your chosen CAD approaches.

Special Features

The module is taught intensively over six weeks. Previous experience has demonstrated that students on this module need to focus intensively on the practical aspects in order to gain the necessary skills to inform their theoretical critique. The delivery pattern of this module therefore encourages immersion in the technology, and intensive supported peer learning in a lab environment. The bulk of assessment is at the end of the semester and therefore allows the same degree of reflection as delivery over the standard ten week period, with earlier assessment concentrating on the on-going development of skills.

Learning and Teaching

Study time allocation

Contact hours:50
Private study hours:150
Total study time: 200 hours

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching Methods Include

  • Lectures and supervised practical exercises. Additionally, students are expected to undertake some background reading into the current and historical applications of CAD within archaeology, and write an essay relating to this subject.
  • Unsupervised use of program-specific and general online and other electronic tutorials and other exercises.
  • Tutorials conducted periodically during the module to assist learning and evaluate progress.

Learning Activities Include

  • Participation in group supervised practicals and in self-study.
  • Use of online learning resources
  • Use of library resources
  • Preparation, design and participation in presentations of specific aspects relating to the module.

Innovative or Special Features

  • The module has extensive online support in the form of course documentation, example data, module specific and general tutorials, links to other online resources, a space for collaborative work such as sharing of CAD representations, an online reference database that can be augmented by students as the module progresses, and a module discussion list.
  • The computing laboratory has a range of manuals, tutorial texts and CD-ROMs relevant to topics covered on this module.
  • The module is optionally supported by a number of specialist visits/ visiting speaker seminars forming part of the Archaeological Computing Systems unit.

Resources and reading list

Andrews, D., Bedford, J., Blake, B., Cromwell, T. and Lea, R. (edited by John Bedford and Heather Papworth). 2010. Measured & Drawn:  Techniques and practice for the metric survey of historic buildings. English Heritage. Available from

Ching, F.D.K. 2002. Architectural Graphics (4th Edition). Wiley

Eiteljorg II, H., Fernie, K., Huggett, J. and Robinson, D. 2002. ADS CAD Guide to Good Practice. Available from:


You will be using AutoCAD throughout this module so you may choose to buy an appropriate AutoCAD guide. As these change very rapidly it is best to contact the module convener direct for current suggestions but these could include:

  • Omura, G. 2011. Mastering AutoCAD 2012 and AutoCAD LT 2012. Wiley, assuming that the system has been upgraded to AutoCAD 2012. This is the Autodesk official training guide.
  • Another excellent reference book is Finkelstein, E. 2011. AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT 2012 Bible. Wiley.

 Also look through:

CSA Newsletter (CAD sections):

Internet Archaeology:


Assessment methods

Informal feedback assesments will be provided via:

  • Discussion list supervised by module convenor
  • Tutorials
  • Supervised Practicals

Students are also invited to sit the AutoDESK AutoCAD exams. No degree credits are associated with this.


Formal assesments will be provided via:

  • Completion of 5 practical exercises 20%. 4% is awarded for successful completion of each exercise.
  • CAD Practical Assignment (c. 2500 words) 30%. Due half way through the semester in which the module is taught.
  • CAD Practical Assignment (c. 3500 words) 50%. Due at the end of the semster in which the module is taught.

All teaching and learning outcomes are assessed in the course of the module via two formal assessments – two practical projects accompanied by appropriate documentation. The successful submission of these assignments is supported by the teaching and learning methods described above. At all stages support will be given to assist in preparation for and of the assignments and feedback will be provided following each submission. Formal training in skills specific to each assignment, including the structuring of research documents, the documentation of practical computing work and other skills, will be provided as required either within the module itself or as an element of the first semester research skills courses.

The assessments relate to your learning outcomes in combination as well as specifically. The module knowledge and understanding outcomes will be demonstrated in assessments by a critical awareness of what, how and why CAD techniques have been applied to archaeology. You will have a systematic understanding of these techniques and be able to apply these to your own research to a professional standard. In terms of cognitive skills your assessments will be expected to demonstrate your own advanced evaluation of CAD methodologies and research approaches and also to develop creative, appropriate applications of your computing knowledge. Throughout the assessment process, both formal and informal, you will be expected to deal with complex issues in a systematic way and to work through the design and implementation of your assessment goals creatively and autonomously.

The module is taught intensively in weeks 1 to 5 of the semester in which it is taught, and followed by a revision week. Each of the five parts of the first assessment is submitted by the beginning of the following week. The second assessment is submitted at the earliest in the week after the revision week. The third assessment is submitted at the end of the semester in which the module is taught. This gap between teaching ending and the project submission is to enable students with all distributions of contact and non-contact hours in other modules to allocate suitable time. Teaching staff are available throughout the semester to provide guidance.

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