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The University of Southampton

ARCH3044 GIS for Archaeology

Module Overview

This module aims to acquaint you with Geographic Information Systems including their use for mapping and analysing archaeological sites and landscapes, and to explain the broader context of their application to a range of archaeological research and management problems. You will gain practical experience of how to design, implement and document spatial databases for archaeology. You will also be introduced to the acquisition and processing of spatial data from both traditional (maps and surveys) sources and also from new sources including remote-sensing, LiDAR and differential GPS.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • How Archaeology has used GIS in the past.
  • How the use of GIS has contributed to theoretical and methodological developments of landscape archaeology.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate archaeological knowledge claims based on GIS analysis.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • You will be able to work with Geographic Information Systems in many disciplines.
  • You will be able to design and implement spatial databases using industry-standard GIS software, and will have a sound grasp of the principles of a range of spatial technologies.
  • You will develop skills that will enable you to solve problems by referring to documentation and online sources.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • You will be able to represent, map and analyse archaeological data with GIS.
  • Grasp the archaeological implications of new sources of spatial data, such as LiDAR and GPS.


Typically the syllabus will cover the following topics: - Introduction to GIS - Understanding and making maps - Spatial databases and metadata - Elevation models and their products - Remote sensing and aerial survey (LiDAR etc.) - Sites, territories and distance - GPS survey data and geodetics - Visibility and intervisibility - Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) and GIS

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will be a combination of: - Lectures on the theory and practice of spatial technology, and on the ways in which these have been applied to archaeological research and management; - Practical classes in which you will be encouraged to develop practical ability to design and implement spatial databases, and to analyse archaeological spatial information.

Follow-up work10
Wider reading or practice10
Completion of assessment task82
Practical classes and workshops24
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Lock G.R (2000). Beyond the map: archaeology and spatial technologies. 

Aldenderfer, M. and Maschner, H.D.G (1996). Anthropology, space and geographic information systems, Spatial information series. 

Lock, G.R. and Stancic, Z (1995). Archaeology and geographical information systems: a European perspective. 

Lock, G.R. and Molyneaux B.L (2006). Confronting scale in archaeology. 

Burrough, P. A. and R. A. McDonnell (1998). Principles of geographic information systems. 

Allen, K.M.S., Green, S. and Zubrow, E.B.W (1990). Interpreting space: GIS and archaeology, Applications of Geographic Information Systems. 

Wheatley D & Gillings M (2002). Spatial technology and archaeology. 

Westcott, K.L. and Brandon, R.J. (2000). Practical applications of GIS for archaeologists: a predictive modelling kit. 

Maschner, H.D.G (1996). New methods, old problems: geographical information systems in modern archaeological research. 

Bodenhamer DJ, Corrigan J and Harris TM (2010). The spatial humanities: GIS and the future of humanities scholarship.. 

DeMers, M. N (1997). Fundamentals of geographic information systems. 

Conolly J and Lake M (2006). Geographic Information Systems in Archaeology. 

Chapman H (2006). Landscape Archaeology and GIS. 



Practical exercise


MethodPercentage contribution
Digital project 65%
GIS Map Package 35%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%


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:


There are no specific student costs associated with this module. Students may choose to purchase copies of one or more of the core textbooks, but they are not required to do so. The software used on this module, ArcGIS, can be freely downloaded and installed under the terms of the University's license, or can be run via the SVE.

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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