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The University of Southampton

ARCH3025 Archaeology Dissertation

Module Overview

The dissertation is a key component of your degree, and the culmination of your programme of study. It provides an opportunity to demonstrate the skills of planning, research, data collation, analysis, and communication that you have learned during your prior studies, and allows you to take ownership of an individual, original piece of research. The scope for individual choice of topic is very wide (limited only by what staff are willing to supervise), and you are thus able to use the dissertation as a way to develop an area of Archaeology (cultural, chronological, methodological, theoretical, etc) that has particularly interested you during your programme of study. You will work closely with your supervisor to implement your project plan, producing research that, at its best, has the potential to represent a genuine and original contribution to archaeological knowledge.

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 archaeological research;
  • the contribution of original research projects to wider debates;
  • the current state of archaeological knowledge, theories, insights and available evidence relating to your chosen area of research.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • assess appropriate theories and methodologies to address archaeological questions;
  • identify appropriate sources of data to address archaeological questions;
  • understand archaeological ethics as they relate to your chosen area of research.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • design and manage a self-contained research project, including meeting goals relating to quality, time and outputs;
  • assemble and critique material from heterogeneous sources, which may include fieldwork, museums, laboratory work, documentary research, published outputs and more as relevant;
  • communicate your research effectively, by means of clarity of style, structure and presentation, and thoroughness and consistency of approach;
  • produce and deliver an effective oral presentation to a non-specialist audience, to answer related questions, and to chair presentations;
  • work closely with an individual expert as part of a professional partnership.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • demonstrate mastery of any technical archaeological skills that underpin your research project.
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • develop a specific research question and identify related aims and objectives;
  • apply methods, theories and sources to address specific research aims;
  • accept constructive criticism and utilise it to improve your research methods and outcomes;
  • structure, explain and develop your own arguments carefully and clearly;
  • demonstrate originality of thought.


The specific topic to be analysed will be different for each dissertation, but some elements will be common to all projects. These will include: - project planning, including risk assessments, ethics assessments, logistics, assessment of likely costs, time management and milestones; - identification and formulation of research questions, aims and objectives; - identification of appropriate data sets, methodologies and/or theoretical approaches; - collation of data, insights and/or scholarly views from primary or secondary sources, and their analysis; - critique of the material gathered and formulation of novel insights and conclusions; - communication of the principal project outcomes in both written and verbal forms.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Preliminary briefing and orientation meetings will be held in the second half of Semester 2 of Year 2, in order to engage you at an early stage with the choices available to you. If you are a joint honours student, these meetings will explain the differences between the Archaeology dissertation and those in your combining subjects, both in terms of intellectual expectations and logistical requirements (timings, prerequisites, etc). For all single honours students and those joint honours considering the Archaeology dissertation module, subsequent sessions will examine the nature of the research to be undertaken and introduce the diversity of possible approaches to it, as well as outlining the requirements for health-and-safety and ethical oversight. These sessions will also present useful available resources and provide opportunities to ask questions. Before the end of Year 2, you should speak to individual staff members who might supervise your choice of topic in order to refine your ideas. Your dissertation research will be supervised by a specified member of staff, with whom you will arrange a series of one-to-one supervisions to guide your research. These should start before the summer break at the end of your Year 2, since many students choose to conduct some of their research activities in the summer between Year 2 and the start of Year 3. During Year 3, you should meet regularly with your supervisor to discuss your progress, to address any problems encountered and to set and meet agreed milestones of research and writing. The module coordinator will also hold informal small-group meetings to provide a friendly forum in which you can compare progress and discuss issues encountered. Midway through Year 3, you will be required to present your project plan and its initial results to an audience of staff and students, which will allow you to receive formative feedback from a diverse group of interested and supportive listeners. The majority of the project hours will comprise independent research, as you take ownership of your project and its implementation.

Completion of assessment task200
Wider reading or practice38
Preparation for scheduled sessions14
Project supervision14
Follow-up work28
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Creme, P. and Lea, M.R. (1997). Writing at University: A Guide for Students. 

Blaxter, L., Hughes, C. and Tight, M. (2001). How to Research. 

Denscombe, M. (2003). The Good Research Guide. 

Fisher, A . (2001). Critical Thinking: An Introduction. 


Assessment Strategy

Your dissertation should include a maximum of 10,000 words of text, in addition to charts, tables, figures and other illustrations as required. You should also include the Research Design approved by your supervisor, including risk assessment and ethics checklist, as an appendix. Your dissertation may be accompanied by supporting materials (including experimental data, images, databases, spreadsheets, etc). The supporting materials, where provided, do not contribute directly to your final mark but provide context to the dissertation research. It is your responsibility to provide any supporting materials in a way that makes them accessible to the markers, including documenting them appropriately. Formative assessment includes verbal feedback from your supervisor during one-to-one meetings and/or practical sessions, and written feedback on submitted documents and drafts, as well as your individual presentation.




MethodPercentage contribution
Diligence and Initiative  (10000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Diligence and Initiative  (10000 words) 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:


Research costs: Archaeology dissertations are highly diverse in terms of the subjects they address and the programmes of work that they comprise. The costs that may arise during the course of your research project can thus likewise vary considerably. These may include: travel to sites, museums or other institutions perhaps including accommodation; fieldwork costs; materials and/or laboratory equipment (although Archaeology provides basic laboratory consumables in-house); books, DVDs or similar resources; printing, copying and binding; protective clothing; and other relevant resources. The module coordinator and/or supervisor will request modification of any project where they consider the likely costs incurred to be prohibitive or unrealistic.

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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