The University of Southampton
HumanitiesPostgraduate study

ARCH6119 Applied Maritime Archaeology

Module Overview

This fifteen credit module will introduce you to the theoretical, ethical, logistic, technical and legislative issues that have to be addressed if the theory and practice of archaeology are to be successfully applied in the investigation of sites underwater and/or in the coastal zone. Case studies will be used to demonstrate the logistic aspects of excavation strategy, as well as the equipment and techniques necessary for search, survey, excavation and recording underwater and/or in the inter-tidal/coastal zone. The course includes practical sessions on excavation and aspects of recording (see below). Non divers can participate on an equal footing to divers through alternative or associated activities related to recording and project supervision. This module is designed to underpin practical training and fieldwork, thereby complementing the more thematic approach explored in the first Semester Core Unit: Maritime Aspects of Culture. Assessment involves designing and carrying out a field survey project and producing a report in the manner in which you would have to do so in a professional context.
The following practical components will act as supplementary elements of the module of between one half day and two days. They are designed to introduce key methodologies. They can also be accredited as NAS Part III courses. They include pool sessions for those with appropriate diving qualifications as well as intertidal work.

Aims and Objectives


The aims of this module are to provide a broad introduction to applied Maritime Archaeology.

Knowledge and understanding
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the strategies, procedures and techniques of excavation and recording in the intertidal zone and underwater
  • a good grasp of the organisational, logistic and managerial processes necessary to ensure successful fieldwork
  • finds recording and post-excavation data processing
  • the ethical frameworks within which responsible excavations are carried out
  • a detailed knowledge of specific case studies.

Cognitive (thinking) skills
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate different research strategies
  • Identify appropriate methodologies matched to site type, materials and condition
  • Undertake independent research in the above areas in the execution of a field survey

Practical (subject specific) skills
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate a maritime site and design a survey strategy
  • Apply a variety of survey methods including data collection and processing
  • Produce plans and other forms of output with the data from the above techniques

Key transferable skills
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Learn and apply new practical and theoretical skills
  • Produce academic/commercial standard reports and presentations
  • Plan, design and implement data collection and presentation.


Typically, the module syllabus with cover the following (all lectures are two hours in length):

Lectures and activities

Ethics: Survey, excavation and salvage

Funding organisation and planning; Health and Safety

Site formation processes

Case studies

Excavation principles and strategies

Equipment and techniques

Recording underwater

Case studies

Dry practical 1: 3D recording of structures under water

Site visits - group allocation


Salvage: raise it, leave it on the bottom or rebury it?

Project Presentations


Photography and video


Pool session: underwater photography

Dry practical: video editing

Archaeological illustration

Dry practical: archaeological illustration

Field project clinic


Learning and Teaching

Study time allocation

Contact hours:48
Private study hours:102
Total study time: 150 hours

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include:

  • An average of four hours of lectures or guided practical per week
  • Student presentations

Learning methods include:

  • Directed learning through lectures/seminars
  • Guided practical instruction
  • Independent practical survey work
  • Completion of survey report
  • Use of online resources
  • Use of library resources
  • Oral presentation preparation and delivery on key topics.

Resources and reading list

Adams, J. 2002. Excavation methods under water, in C. Orser (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Historical Archaeology: 192-196. London: Routledge.

Adams, J. 2003. Ships, Innovation and Social Change. Aspects of carvel Shipbuilding in Northern Europe 1450 - 1850. Stockholm: University of Stockholm. [Archaeology to provide PDF.]

Ballard, R. D., McCann, A., Yoerger, D. Whitcomb, L., Mindell, D. Oleson, J., Singh, H., Foley, B., Adams, J., Piechota, D., Giangrande, C. 2000. The Discoveries of ancient history in the deep sea using advanced deep submergence technology. Deep-Sea Research Part 1: 1591-1620

Bingham, B., Mindell, D., Wilcox, T & A. Bowen, 2006. Integrating precision relative positioning into JASON/MEDEA ROV operations. Marine Technology Society (MTS) Journal 40, 1: 87-96

Bowens, A. (ed.) 2008. Underwater Archaeology: The NAS Guide to Principles and Practice. Oxford: Blackwell.

English Heritage, 1991. Management of Archaeological Projects. English Heritage. Also downloadable from:

Ferrari, B. & Adams, J. 1990. Biogenic modification of marine sediments and their influence on archaeological material. IJNA 19.2: 139-151.

Firth, A. 1993. The Management of Archaeology Underwater. In Hunter & Ralston (eds) Archaeological resource management in the UK: An Introduction. Bath.

Green, J. 2009. Maritime Archaeology, a Technical Handbook. London: Academic Press

Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee. 1989. Heritage at Sea: Proposals for the Better Protection of Archaeological Sites Underwater. London: JNAPC/National Maritime Museum.

Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee. 1993. Still at Sea.

Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee. Code of Practice for Seabed Developers. 1995 (Revised 1998). Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee/RCHME.

Muckelroy, K. 1978. Maritime Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Singh, H., Adams, J., Mindell, D. & Foley, B. 2000. Imaging Underwater for Archaeology. Journal of Field Archaeology 27.3: 319-328

Tomalin, D., Simpson, P. & Bingeman, J. M. 2000. Excavation versus sustainability in situ: a conclusion on 25 years of archaeological investigations at Goose Rock, a designated historic wreck-site at the Needles, Isle of Wight, England. IJNA 29.1: 3-42


Assessment methods

  • Group presentation: 15 - 20 minutes per group - Outlining site context, research/survey aims & objectives, proposed survey methodology, health & safety considerations - 25%
  • 3000 word Individual Survey Report: Individually written report presenting the main resluts and conslusions of the field survey. The report should adopt the standard format used for commercial fieldwork reports - 75%

The module assessment revolves around practical field survey and subsequent reporting. Students will be formed into small groups of c. four or five. They will select a maritime archaeological site (usually located in the inter-tidal zone), from a given list and will be provided with a written brief, outlining the survey work required on the site. Following this they will plan and carry out their field survey as a group. The two elements of assessment that result from this are detailed below.

Informal feedback will provided throughout the module via lectures, practicals, clinics and supervisions. Detailed and constructive written feedback will be given for all assignments submitted.


Programmes in which this module is compulsory

MA/MSc Maritime Archaeology

ProgrammeUCAS CodeProgramme length
MA/MSc Maritime ArchaeologyV4001 years
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