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The University of Southampton

ARCH2042 Introduction to Scientific Diving

Module Overview

This fifteen credit module will introduce you to the theoretical, 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 - these techniques are relevant to any form of scientific diving. Case studies will be used to demonstrate the logistical aspects of excavation strategy, as well as the equipment and techniques necessary for search, survey, excavation, sampling and recording underwater. The course includes introductory practical sessions on diving. Non-divers can participate on an equal footing to divers through the main, assessed activities, related to planning of diving projects and an understanding of the theoretical application of diving skills and current HSE regulations as applied to maritime archaeology. This module is designed to underpin practical training and fieldwork, thereby complementing the more thematic approach explored in the first semester module Maritime Archaeology. Assessment involves designing a diving project, which will be presented as a group, and a two-part exam on the theoretical aspects of diving and underwater archaeology. Practical components will allow hands on development of skills act as supplementary and will take place in pool sessions for a total of approximately 18 hours as well as a weekend of sheltered open water dives to complete the BSAC Ocean Diver diving qualification for those who wish to do so. No pre-existing diving qualification is required for this module.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Good appreciation of the principles and concepts of diving for maritime archaeology
  • Understand the purpose and function of SCUBA kit
  • Ability to assess and mitigate diving related risks
  • Understand the legal, organisational, logistic and managerial processes necessary to ensure a successful underwater project
  • The application of HSE diving regulations and Approved Code of Practice to archaeological diving projects
  • Detailed knowledge of specific archaeological case studies
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate the impact of scientific diving on the discipline of archaeology
  • Design an appropriate project plan for a chosen archaeological site underwater
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Learn and apply new practical and theoretical skills
  • Undertake research in both individual and group settings
  • Knowledge of the application of Health and Safety procedures and legislation
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Learn and apply basic practical diving skills


Outline Syllabus Lectures: • A history of diving in maritime archaeology • The fundamentals of diving: gases, pressure changes and the effects of diving on the body • Basic diving skills and their application for maritime archaeology • Ethical and legal approaches to maritime archaeology underwater • Organisation and planning of diving projects including health and safety, risk assessments and risk mitigation • Archaeological investigation underwater: mapping, searching and sampling • Current sites and the development of methods in maritime archaeology Practicals (optional): • Pool sessions: diving techniques • Sheltered open water diving

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching and Learning Methods Teaching methods include: • An average of four hours of lectures per week • Student presentations • Practical demonstrations • Groupwork

Wider reading or practice40
Practical classes and workshops42
Completion of assessment task24
Preparation for scheduled sessions20
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Swimming things. You will need swimming things (costume, towel etc). If you choose to dive you may prefer to have your own dive mask (if you don't already own one).

J. N. Heine (2017). Scientific Diving Techniques . 

Approved Codes of Practice .

Amanda Bowens (2008). Archaeology Underwater: The NAS guide to Principles and Practice. 

Diving at Work Regulations .



Mock exam


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) 50%
Group project  (5000 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Project  ( words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules



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:

Field Equipment and Materials

Recreational dive qualification: If you choose to take the examinations for a recreational dive qualification at the end of the module you may incur an additional charge (depending on the level/qualifying agency) this will be discussed in class.

Residential Weeks - Food

If you choose to take part in off-site diving activities, you will need to provide food and drink.

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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