The University of Southampton

ARCH2037 Archaeological Fieldwork

Module Overview

Fieldwork is an integral part of the archaeological process and we want all our students to experience it directly. Each year we offer an exciting range of projects, some in the UK and some overseas, that our students can participate in, as part of our primary archaeological research. All projects will involve data gathering in the field (excavation, survey, geophysics etc.), but we also recognise that fieldwork is a ‘broad’ description, so there will often be opportunities to get involved with other aspects of the archaeological process e.g., finds work, environmental archaeology, museum work, community archaeology, public outreach etc. It is a requirement of all Archaeology degrees (B.A. (hons), B.Sc. (hons) and all combined honours) at Southampton that you participate in at least three weeks of archaeological fieldwork, on a project approved by the University of Southampton. The objective of the fieldwork requirement is to ensure that you gain direct experience of the primary archaeological record, how it is discovered and recorded. At the same time, we expect that you will gain a range of transferrable skills from your participation in a fieldwork project and will develop your personal skills in areas such as problem solving, decision making, teamwork and personal responsibility.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The goal of the fieldwork requirement is to ensure that you gain experience of a range of general field techniques (e.g., the various skills involved in excavation and field survey) and specific methods for the investigation and recording of archaeological remains in the field. We expect that you will become familiar with the wider archaeological context of the research project in which you participate; will learn about the formulation and delivery of a real research strategy and about the management of an active research project. At the end of the project, you will consider the preliminary results of the field season, their wider significance, and their impact upon future research directions

Learning Outcomes

Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Teamwork o Working in small, dedicated teams o With a diverse range of participants
  • Problem solving o Resolving things when they don’t go to plan
  • Responsibility o For safety and good practice o To the archaeological resource
  • Self-awareness o Reflect on your own contribution o Personal development


The module is delivered by placing you within an active archaeological field research project for a minimum of 3 weeks, during which you will participate in relevant aspects of archaeological field research. Fieldwork is defined broadly to include: • Excavation and test-pitting; • Topographic survey, surface survey and fieldwalking; • Environmental archaeology, geo-archaeology and sampling; • Geophysical prospection; • Any kind of ‘primary’ recording in the field such as drawing, feature survey, photography, laser scanning; • Finds processing and recording.

Special Features

By arrangement with the Head of Archaeology (or equivalent), students who have special requirements, or who are unable for good reasons to participate in the conventional field archaeology projects available, may be able to carry out their 3 weeks fieldwork by participating in a project that does not directly involve conventional fieldwork activities e.g., museum work, finds work, laboratory work, public archaeology etc

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

• Initial orientation meeting(s) prepare you for fieldwork; • In the field teaching is through supervised practice in small-group lessons, and impromptu "show and tell" sessions during work time; • You should learn about your project and its broader context through tours, discussions, site visits or lectures during the field season; • At the end of the season, project leaders should present results to crews and discuss them in the field.

Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Drewett, P. (2000). Field Archaeology. 

Greene, K. (1995). Archaeology: An Introduction. 

Hester, T., Shafer, H.J. and Feder, K.L. (1997). Field Methods in Archaeology. 

Barker, P. (1993). Techniques of Archaeological Excavation. 

Carver, M (2009). Archaeological Investigation. 

Renfrew, C. and Bahn, P. (1996). Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Fieldwork %


MethodPercentage contribution
Fieldwork %

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Travel Costs for placements

It is our policy that students are not required to make any additional financial contribution in order to meet this fieldwork requirement, and the Faculty of Humanities subsidises fieldwork project placements for students. We also ensure that the fieldwork placements available each year include an appropriate number of UK-based and non-residential projects that students should be able to attend at no cost. However, if you choose to complete this module by participating in an overseas project, or in a project for which your participation generates significant additional cost, then you may be asked to make a financial contribution to those extra costs. Typically, these contributions cover the cost of e.g. travel and accommodation or additional vehicle hire. The cost to students of participation in overseas projects is typically between about £250-£500 for three weeks, but in exceptional cases (such as a project that involves long-haul air travel) the cost of participation may be significantly higher.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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