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The University of Southampton

ARCH2040 Professional and Academic Practice in Archaeology

Module Overview

Fieldwork is an integral part of the archaeological process and we want all our students to experience directly the generation of primary data by means of field and related practical activities. At the core of this module, therefore, is participation in at least three weeks of fieldwork and/or related activities, by means of a field school, research projects in the UK and/or overseas, and in certain cases post-excavation or similar activities. By these means, you will master the key skills of field and practical archaeology, and understand how new insights into past societies are generated 'at the trowel's edge'. You will be asked to consider the relationship between research designs for projects, and the methods they/you employ, and to put these skills to use in the design of a project of your own. It is a requirement of all Archaeology degrees at Southampton, both single and joint honours, that you participate in at least three weeks of archaeological fieldwork, normally on a project organised 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 transferable 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

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • the key principles of research design as it relates to the relationship between field-based or related data generation and research planning and outcomes;
  • the geographical, chronological and cultural contexts of the sites, landscapes and/or collections with which you are working.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • design appropriate strategies for planning and implementing a field-based or related practical archaeological project;
  • define appropriate methodologies for generating primary data relevant to a specific research question or questions.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • work in small dedicated teams with a diverse range of participants to complete a complex multi-tasking project;
  • resolve unexpected developments or solving problems when events divert from what was planned;
  • reflect on your own contribution and building your personal development as part of a collaborative whole.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • mastery of diverse professional archaeological skills related to survey, excavation and/or post-excavation.
  • take responsibility for good professional practice, including safeguarding the safety of all participants and acting appropriately towards the archaeological resource;


The majority of the teaching and learning on this module will take place in the field. Skills with which students will become familiar include a number of the following: archaeological excavation, test-pitting, topographic and/or geophysical survey and recording, surface survey and field-walking, environmental and geo-archaeological approaches and sampling, recording methods such as drawing, photography, feature survey and/or laser scanning, post-excavation processing and recording of artefacts, archival work, and related practical activities. These skills will vary depending on the aims and objectives, and planned activities, of each project, but in all cases will include important elements relating to the generation of primary data through archaeological field and related practice. In the classroom, sessions will be dedicated to practical organisation and planning, health and safety, and the relationship between planned project activities and research outcomes. After the completion of the fieldwork task(s), teaching and learning activities will develop your understanding of the generation and use of new data for research purposes by means of sessions initiating the development of a research project of your own, skills which will ultimately support you in the design of your dissertation, whether in Archaeology or a combining discipline.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Orientation meetings and project briefings will prepare you for the fieldwork, including a presentation of the research agenda of the project(s) to which you will be attached. Fieldwork and/or related practical activities comprise 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, with project leaders presenting and discussing results at the end of the season. The development of understanding of the relationship between data and research will take place by means of small-group discussion classes or supervisions. Note that the External Repeat option is only available where students have already completed the practical/fieldwork component of the module.

Assessment tasks40
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Renfrew, C. and Bahn, P. (2016). Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice. 

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

Carver, M. (2009). Archaeological Investigation. 

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

Drewett, P. (2000). Field Archaeology. 

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



MethodPercentage contribution
Fieldwork report  (2000 words) 50%
Research Design Proposal  (2000 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


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:

Fieldwork: logistical costs

It is our policy that students are not required to make any additional financial contribution in order to meet the fieldwork requirement of our programmes, and the Faculty of Humanities subsidises fieldwork project placements for students. We 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 around £300 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. Depending on the activities you will be participating in, you may also be asked to purchase some personal equipment and clothing suitable for your field activities. These may include relevant personal protective equipment (e.g., waterproof clothing, sunhat, boots, gloves).

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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