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The University of Southampton

ARCH6119 Applied Maritime Archaeology

Module Overview

This fifteen credit module will introduce you to the theoretical, ethical, 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 and/or in the coastal zone. Case studies will be used to demonstrate the logistic aspects of excavation strategy, as well as the equipment and techniques necessary for search, survey, excavation and recording underwater and/or in the inter-tidal/coastal zone. The course includes practical sessions on excavation and aspects of recording (see below). Non divers can participate on an equal footing to divers through alternative or associated activities related to recording and project supervision. This module is designed to underpin practical training and fieldwork, thereby complementing the more thematic approach explored in the first Semester Core Unit: Maritime Aspects of Culture. Assessment involves designing and carrying out a field survey project and producing a report in the manner in which you would have to do so in a professional context. The following practical components will act as supplementary elements of the module of between one half day and two days. They are designed to introduce key methodologies. They include pool sessions for those with appropriate diving qualifications as well as intertidal work.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • the strategies, procedures and techniques of excavation and recording in the intertidal zone and underwater
  • a good grasp of the organisational, logistic and managerial processes necessary to ensure successful fieldwork
  • finds recording and post-excavation data processing
  • the ethical frameworks within which responsible excavations are carried out
  • a detailed knowledge of specific case studies.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Learn and apply new practical and theoretical skills
  • Produce academic/commercial standard reports and presentations
  • Plan, design and implement data collection and presentation.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate a maritime site and design a survey strategy
  • Apply a variety of survey methods including data collection and processing
  • Produce plans and other forms of output with the data from the above techniques
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate different research strategies
  • Identify appropriate methodologies matched to site type, materials and condition
  • Undertake independent research in the above areas in the execution of a field survey


Lectures: Ethics of excavation and recovery Organisation and planning Health and Safety Risk Assessment Funding Site formation processes Excavation principles and strategies Survey equipment and techniques Recording underwater Preservation in-situ Photography and video Archaeological illustration Practicals: Terrestrial Survey methods: Total Station, GPS, Drone AAV, Photogrammetry Traditional hand survey Excavating underwater (Andark lake) Pool session: underwater recording 3D recording of structures (Avenue) Laser scanning and contact arm recording Pool session: underwater photography and video Video editing Archaeological illustration

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • An average of four hours of lectures or guided practical per week • Student presentations Learning methods include: • Directed learning through lectures/seminars • Guided practical instruction • Independent practical survey work • Completion of survey report • Use of online resources • Use of library resources • Oral presentation preparation and delivery on key topics.

Wider reading or practice20
Preparation for scheduled sessions20
Follow-up work10
Completion of assessment task50
Practical classes and workshops14
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Tomalin, D., Simpson, P. & Bingeman, J. M. (2000). Excavation versus sustainability in situ: a conclusion on 25 years of archaeological investigations at Goose Rock, a designated historic wreck-site at the Needles, Isle of Wight, England. IJNA. ,29 , pp. 3--42.

Bingham, B., Mindell, D., Wilcox, T & A. Bowen (2006). Integrating precision relative positioning into JASON/MEDEA ROV operations. Marine Technology Society (MTS) Journal. ,40 , pp. 87-96.

Firth, A (1993). The Management of Archaeology Underwater. Archaeological resource management in the UK: An Introduction. .

Ransley, J., Sturt, F., Dix, J.K., Adams, J. & Blue, L. (2013). People and the Sea. A Maritime Archaeological Research Agenda for England. 

Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee (1993). Still at Sea. 

Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee (1998). Code of Practice for Seabed Developers.. 

Foley, B., Adams, J., Piechota, D., Giangrande, C. (2000). The Discoveries of ancient history in the deep sea using advanced deep submergence technology. Deep-Sea Research. ,1 , pp. 1591-1620.

Bowens, A. (ed.) (2008). Underwater Archaeology: The NAS Guide to Principles and Practice. 

Green, J. (2009). Maritime Archaeology, a Technical Handbook. 

Ferrari, B. & Adams, J. (1990). Biogenic modification of marine sediments and their influence on archaeological material. IJNA. ,19 , pp. 139-151.

Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee (1989). Heritage at Sea: Proposals for the Better Protection of Archaeological Sites Underwater. 

Historic England. Management of Research Projects in the Historic Environment: The MoRPHE Project Managers' Guide..

Adams, J. (2002). Excavation methods under water. Encyclopaedia of Historical Archaeology. , pp. 192-196.

Singh, H., Adams, J., Mindell, D. & Foley, B. (2000). Imaging Underwater for Archaeology. Journal of Field Archaeology. ,27 , pp. 319-328.

Adams, J. (2013). A Maritime Archaeology of Ships. Innovation and Social Change in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. 

Muckelroy, K (1978). Maritime Archaeology. 


Assessment Strategy

Informal feedback will provided throughout the module via lectures, practicals, clinics and supervisions. Detailed and constructive written feedback will be given for all assignments submitted. The module assessment revolves around practical field survey and subsequent reporting. Students will be formed into small groups of c. four or five. They will select a maritime archaeological site (usually located in the inter-tidal zone), from a given list and will be provided with a written brief, outlining the survey work required on the site. Following this they will plan and carry out their field survey as a group, presenting this for assessment and peer review. They will then write up an individual Written Scheme of Investigation (WSI) that will underpin the subsequent survey. The field survey will then be written up in the form of a survey report. The three elements of assessment that result from this are detailed below. Group presentation - This assignment will encourage the development of collaborative working through the initial assessment and planning of the survey project. As a group, you should assess your site, including an initial supervised site visit, and present your approach for conducting further survey. Individual ‘Written Scheme of Investigation (WSI)’ (including Risk Assessment) - Building on your presentation, you will produce a more formal Written Scheme of Investigation (WSI). This should be done on an individual basis. It should include research questions, aims/objectives, health and safety, survey methodology, reporting outcomes. Individual Survey Project Report - This is a formal survey report as might be expected to be produced in a professional context.


MethodPercentage contribution
Group presentation  (15 minutes) 25%
Project report 50%
Written report 25%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 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:


Students will need to provide appropriate PPE for intertidal investigation (safety boots/wellingtons, waterproofs)

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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