ARA2100 : Fieldwork Methods and Artefact Analysis

  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jan Harding
  • Owning School:
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This course will allow the student to spend two weeks on a field project of their choice. It will be followed up with classroom based teaching to drive forward the understanding of archaeological field methods and theory and the post excavation processes, particularly in regard to artefact identification and analysis.

The aims of this module are:
•To provide experience of working on a fieldwork project and develop field-based skills
•To provide an understanding of the practices, methods and skills used in fieldwork
•To familiarise students with a range of artefacts and materials
•To introduce students to the skills needed to describe and process archaeological finds
•To introduce students to the role of artefacts in aiding archaeological understanding

Outline Of Syllabus

Outline syllabus, intended as a guide only; week-by-week topics may be slightly different to the following,

14 days' placement on an archaeological or museum field project
Fieldwork debriefing
Fieldwalking, geophysics and records
The variability of the archaeological record
Geographical Information Systems and archaeology
Policy Planning Guidance 16, its predecessors and its impact
Treasure and the Portable Antiquities Scheme
Stratigraphy and matrices
Excavation strategy and sampling
Presenting archaeology to the public
Community archaeology
Career advice

There will also be 11 double sessions learning about post-excavation analysis of artefact types by material.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion641:0064:0040% of guided independent studies
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical112:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading641:0064:0040% of guided independent studies
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00Tutorial
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study321:0032:0020% of guided independent studies
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

• Placement on a fieldwork project reinforces subject-specific knowledge acquired during the
previous year's study. Fieldwork provides an opportunity for students to develop subject-specific
field archaeology skills and provide a greater understanding of theories and methods in
archaeology. Fieldwork training also develops key skills including teamwork and self-awareness.
• Lectures build on these experiences placing students' practical archaeological experience within
the wider context of professional archaeological practice. Debates over the subjectivity of
fieldwork and issues in archaeological practice and archaeological resource management are
covered, providing students with a greater depth of awareness and understanding of professional
archaeological practice and the post excavation process.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M20Artefact recognition test
Report1M40Assemblage report
Reflective log1M40Fieldwork diary
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The fieldwork diary allows students to demonstrate their awareness and understanding of the context and research aims behind their fieldwork placement. In addition, students are required to reflect on the methods and techniques they are using, demonstrating their understanding of these techniques and their overall place within the wider context of the project and archaeological field practices. The reflexive nature of the diary encourages students to process their experiences and demonstrate their development as archaeologists. Students are encouraged to explain how their understanding of techniques and skills has developed and to critique the methods and practices of the placement project.
Students will be expected to identify and comment on 15 artefacts. This will test their identification skills. The assemblage report tests their observation and recording skills and their understanding of the post excavation process

ERASMUS students at Newcastle One 3,000 word essay to be handed in by 12.00 p.m. of the Friday of the first week of the assessment period. This will replace all work required of domestic students. It remains the case that, if an ERASMUS student specifically requests that s/he be permitted to do the same assessments as the domestic students, that option remains open to them. No variation of the deadlines will be allowed except on production of medical or equivalent evidence.

Reading Lists


Disclaimer: The University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver modules in accordance with the descriptions set out in this catalogue. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, however, the University reserves the right to introduce changes to the information given including the addition, withdrawal or restructuring of modules if it considers such action to be necessary.