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The University of Southampton
ArchaeologyPart of HumanitiesUndergraduate study

Fieldwork

Fieldwork is an integral part of all archaeology, although archaeological fieldwork does not just mean ‘digging’. Excavating archaeological sites is just one way archaeologists gain information about the past. Other fieldwork may involve recording a standing building or an intact ship, geophysical surveys, recording rock art or systematically collecting archaeological material from ploughed fields.

Practical experience in the field

Digging and other fieldwork are a central part of our courses. All students have to complete at least three weeks' fieldwork, usually in the summer break at the end of the first year. Many of the fieldwork projects, which are a required element of the degree course, are overseas.

Southampton has a distinctive policy of training our students through research-led projects, practical field experience and field trips. Research-led digs offer students more of a chance to see how field projects develop in response to theoretical and regional research agendas, they offer close student-staff interaction, and they offer more possibility of exciting archaeological developments during the field season.

As well as this you can gain practical experience through some modules throughout the three years. You can gain lab-based experience through modules studying ceramics, lithics and bones. You can also gain further field experience through our survey and geophysics modules. You can opt to do a practical-based dissertation such as analysing and interpreting a group of pottery or conducting a survey of a local monument. Understanding fieldwork as a research process has strong conceptual ties to less obvious parts of our syllabus such as Archaeological Theory, Archaeology and Society, and Heritage Management.

There are ongoing projects in Hungary, Croatia, Greece, Italy and Jersey. In Britain, we are currently working in Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, the Cotswolds, East Sussex and Kent.  Fieldwork is heavily subsidised.  You may be asked to contribute to travel expenses if you are going abroad, but we always aim to have at least one UK project for which no contribution is required (and is non-residential).

For further information about fieldwork please contact Dr Andrew Jones.

Alex Glenn, undergraduate student
Scotney fieldtrip

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