The University of Southampton
HumanitiesPostgraduate study

ARCH6116 Advanced GIS and Spatial Technologies for Archaeological Landscapes

Module Overview

This module aims to acquaint you with Geographic Information Systems including their use for mapping and analysing archaeological sites and landscapes, and to explain the broader context of their application to a range of archaeological research and management problems. You will gain practical experience of how to design, implement and document spatial databases for archaeology. You will also be introduced to the acquisition and processing of spatial data from both traditional (maps and surveys) sources and also from new sources including remote-sensing, LiDAR and differential GPS.

This module is a 30-credit version of ARCH6129, and shares the majority of the teaching with that module. In addition to the assessments and lectures of ARCH6129, this module contains some advanced teaching and students will undertake a GIS or Spatial Analysis project leading to submission of a 3000 word report, spatial database and suitable metadata.

Module co-ordinator: Dr David Wheatley

Aims and Objectives

The aims of this module are to introduce you to Geographic Information Systems and their application to the analysis of archaeological landscapes.

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how Archaeology has used GIS in the past, and how it has contributed to theoretical and methodological development of landscape archaeology.

Cognitive (thinking) skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

Practical (subject specific) skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to represent, map and analyse archaeological data with GIS and grasp the archaeological implications of new sources of spatial data (such as LiDAR and GPS).

Key transferable skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to work with Geographic Information Systems in many disciplines. You will be able to design and implement spatial databases using industry-standard GIS software, and will have a sound grasp of the principles of a range of spatial technologies. In addition, you will develop skills that will enable you to:

  • plan, implement and write-up short practical projects;
  • present methodology and results in coherent, structured reports;
  • solve problems by referring to documentation and online sources


Typically the syllabus will cover the following topics:

  • Introduction to GIS
  • Understanding and making maps
  • Spatial databases and metadata
  • Elevation models and their products
  • Remote sensing and Aerial survey
  • Quantifying spatial patterns
  • Sites, territories and distance
  • GPS survey data and geodetics
  • Visibility and intervisibility
  • Trend surface and interpolation
  • Location models and HLC
  • Customising the GIS
  • Preparation of a 3000 word Spatial technology project on a chosen subject

Learning and Teaching

Study time allocation

Contact hours:60
Private study hours:240
Total study time: 300 hours

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will be a combination of:

  • Lectures on the theory and practice of spatial technology, and on the ways in which these have been applied to archaeological research and management
  • Practical classes in which you will be encouraged to develop practical ability to design and implement spatial databases, and to analyse archaeological spatial information
  • Seminars with researchers where available, students will attend and discuss seminars by researchers who are actively engaged in the research and development of new approaches to archaeology using spatial technologies

Resources and reading list

The core text for this unit will be:

Wheatley D & Gillings M 2002 Spatial technology and archaeology. (London: Taylor & Francis.)

Alternative introductions to GIS in Archaeology are:

Conolly J and Lake M 2006 Geographic Information Systems in Archaeology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)

Chapman H 2006 Landscape Archaeology and GIS (Oxford: Tempus)

There are many introductions to GIS, of which the following are recommended:

Burrough, P. A. and R. A. McDonnell 1998. Principles of geographic information systems. (Oxford, Oxford University Press).

DeMers, M. N., 1997, Fundamentals of geographic information systems. New York, John Wiley & Sons

Many relevant research papers can be found in the following edited volumes:

Allen, K.M.S., Green, S. and Zubrow, E.B.W. (eds.), 1990, Interpreting space: GIS and archaeology, Applications of Geographic Information Systems (London: Taylor & Francis).

Aldenderfer, M. and Maschner, H.D.G. (eds.), 1996, Anthropology, space and geographic information systems, Spatial information series, (New York: Oxford University Press).

Bodenhamer DJ, Corrigan J and Harris TM (eds) 2010 The spatial humanities: GIS and the future of humanities scholarship. (Bloomington IN: University of Indiana Press).

Lock G.R. (ed.) 2000 Beyond the map: archaeology and spatial technologies, (Amsterdam: IOS Press),

Lock, G.R. and Molyneaux B.L. (eds) 2006 Confronting scale in archaeology. (New York: Springer).

Lock, G.R. and Stancic, Z. (eds.), 1995, Archaeology and geographical information systems: a European perspective, (London: Taylor & Francis).

Maschner, H.D.G. (ed.) 1996, New methods, old problems: geographical information systems in modern archaeological research, Occasional Paper No. 23, (Carbondale: Center for Archaeological Investigations, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale).

Westcott, K.L. and Brandon, R.J. (eds), 2000, Practical applications of GIS for archaeologists: a predictive modelling kit, (London: Taylor & Francis).

Relevant papers are frequently published in the following Journals (available electronically):

  • Archaeometry
  • Environment and Planning B
  • International Journal of GIS
  • International Journal of Spatial Data Infrastructure
  • Journal of Archaeological Research
  • Journal of Archaeological Science
  • Journal of Archaeological Theory and Method
  • Landscape Research


Assessment methods

Assessment Method Number % contribution to final mark
Assessed practical exercise (c. 1500 words) 1 20%
Essay (2500 words) 1 30%
[Formative] Practical exercises 2-4 0%
Project (3000 words, database, metadata) 1 50

Linked modules

Pre-requisites and / or co-requisites

This module should not be taken with the 15 credit module ARCH6129 GIS and Spatial Technologies for Archaeology


Programmes in which this module is compulsory

Core module in MSc Archaeological Computing (GIS and Survey)

Share this module Facebook Google+ Twitter Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.