BA Ancient History and Archaeology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Doing Archaeology 2

Course unit fact file
Unit code CAHE20501
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course is about both the practicalities and the politics of doing archaeology. We look at the different agendas at work in archaeological practice. Who produces knowledge about the past, and how?  And how does that influence the narratives that are told about the past, in both academic and public fora? By examining how archaeological practice produces knowledge of the past, both in the field and in the lab, how museums and the heritage industry consume this knowledge (and produce new knowledge), and how the past is presented to and consumed by the ‘general public’ this course will examine how doing archaeology is very much a social, cultural, political and interpretive act.

This is also a practical course; as well as these theoretical debates, you will also learn a suite of practical skills, including archaeological illustration, archaeological photography, digitisation of archaeological drawings, standing building survey, archival research and writing and presenting archaeology to a variety of audiences. Furthermore, you are given the opportunity to ‘specialise’, selecting assessment tasks that allow you follow your own interests, and build a portfolio of work that showcases and demonstrates your archaeological skills and experience to relevant employees in the future. 


  • To expand on students’ established knowledge and understanding of archaeological fieldwork practices from ‘Doing Archaeology I’, to develop a working knowledge and practical experience of a range of survey and post excavation processes
  • To ensure students understand how these techniques are used in the interpretation of archaeological finds and features
  • To introduce students to the wider social, cultural and moral debates surrounding the authorship and ownership of archaeological data and its uses and to contextualise students’ own fieldwork experiences within these debates.
  • To introduce students to a range of non-fieldwork career pathways in the heritage sector, and to develop a familiarity with key skills within these roles.
  • To allow students the opportunity to choose which further skills required by employers to equip themselves with,  as a means to enhance employability along a range of career pathways in the Professional Heritage Sector, as well as developing wider transferable skills to enhance general student employability.

Teaching and learning methods

  • Lectures
  • Seminars/lab sessions (delivered in person where possible or virtually, according to Government/University guidance)
  • Designated practical ‘troubleshooting’ sessions for advice on practical portfolio tasks.
  • Audio-visual materials on blackboard
  • Podcasts and lecture slides

Knowledge and understanding

  • An understanding of your role in the production and dissemination of archaeological data and narratives
  • An understanding of the finite nature of the archaeological resource, and the need for correct processes of excavation, recording and conservation
  • An understanding of the key debates and issues surrounding authorship and ownership in heritage, particularly in contexts of research, public outreach and community projects
  • An understanding of how your choices within this module are beneficial in enhancing your employability, within the heritage sector and beyond.

Intellectual skills

  • Critical consider and understand the significance of archaeology and heritage within the context of research, commercial work and public engagement
  • Critical reflect and evaluate your personal role in archaeological fieldwork
  • Express complex and developed arguments in a clear and appropriate manner, through critical written work and group debates
  • Consult and understand a range of opposing, conflicting or different arguments and engage in a process of decision making in order to draw reasoned conclusions.

Practical skills

  • Ability to undertake archaeological artefact illustration of a range of lithic and ceramic materials, following correct conventions.
  • Ability to digitise a range of archaeological drawings (excavation and post excavation) using appropriate software and following correct conventions.
  • Ability to undertake technical and non-technical photography in archaeology, tailoring outputs for specific audiences.
  • Ability to present archaeology to different audiences through technical and nontechnical writing.
  • Ability to understand and interpret written and drawn stratigraphy.
  • Ability to undertake a level 4 standing building survey through survey, technical drawing and archival research.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Information retrieval: ability to independently gather, select and synthesise material from a variety of sources, and to critically evaluate its significance.
  • Literacy: the ability to produce written work using appropriate language for a target audience, and to collect and integrate evidence to formulate points, descriptions and arguments.
  • Digital Literacy: ability to use word processing software, online resources and the use and manipulation of available material for use in formal assessment.
  • Teamworking: recognising and identifying views of others and working constructively with them to achieve team goals.
  • Time Management: ability to schedule tasks in order of importance.
  • Research: ability to plan and implement an effective research project
  • Improving own learning (through feedback): ability to improve one's own learning through planning, monitoring, critical reflection, evaluate and adapt strategies for one's learning, including a critical engagement with assessment feedback.

Employability skills

Personal Capabilities: independent learning and research, creativity, initiative, decisiveness, literacy, numeracy, computer literacy, team working, time management, reflexive learning (improving through feedback).
Oral communication
Generic Competencies: Communicating in seminar contexts, understanding, summarising and presenting arguments in written and oral situations.
Cognitive Skills: Critical understanding of wider socio-political aspects of archaeology and heritage sectors, critical reflection of your role within the archaeological process, understanding of the contingent nature of knowledge and data. Personal Capabilities: independent learning and research, creativity, initiative, decisiveness, literacy, numeracy, computer literacy, team working, time management, reflexive learning (improving through feedback).
Written communication
Generic Competencies: Communicating in seminar contexts, understanding, summarising and presenting arguments in written and oral situations.
Practical and Professional Skills: Archaeological illustration, illustration digitisation, technical and non-technical archaeological photography, archaeological writing, standing building survey. Furthermore, flexible portfolio assessment allows the tailoring to develop specific skills, according to your desired career pathway-the portfolio then exists as a material tool to evidence these skills, and boost your employability.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 40%
Portfolio 60%

Reflective Fieldwork Analysis

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative
Written feedback provided for all submitted workSummative
Opportunity to discuss and submit Portfolio elements for formative feedbackFormative

Recommended reading

  • Cobb, H., and Croucher, K. 2020. Assembling Archaeology: Teaching, Practice and Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Lucas, G., 2022. Archaeological Situations: Archaeological Theory from the Inside Out. London: Routledge.
  • Lucas, G. 2012 Understanding the Archaeological Record. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Lucas, G. 2001 Critical Approaches to Fieldwork: Contemporary and Historical Archaeological Practice. London: Routledge.
  • RCHAMS. 2011. A practical guide to recording archaeological sites. Edinburgh: The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland
  • Schofield, J. et al., 2011. Archaeological Practice in Great Britain: A Heritage Handbook. New York: Springer.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Fieldwork 3
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 164

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Hannah Cobb Unit coordinator

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