Module Catalogue 2023/24

ARA2012 : Fieldwork and Archaeological Practice (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Duncan Wright
  • Demonstrator: Miss Laura Messenger
  • Lecturer: Dr Louise Rayne, Dr Francesco Carrer
  • Teaching Assistant: Mr Alex Turner
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Code Title
ARA1027Introduction to Archaeology
Pre Requisite Comment

ARA1027 introduces the student to key concepts and techniques in fieldwork and archaeological practice, providing knowledge and understanding essential to successfully completing this module.

Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module will explore the range, diversity, and complexity of archaeological practice, focussing in particular on its application in commercial heritage contexts. Building upon the introduction of the basic concepts, methods, and skills developed during Stage 1, a more thorough understanding of archaeological practice will be gained, and the great diversity of skills and approaches used by professionals will be emphasised. A key goal of this module is to demonstrate the character and function of commercial archaeology in the UK, and show students the prospects and pathways for careers within this industry.

More specifically, the module aims to:
1. To provide an understanding of the practices, methods and skills used in fieldwork
2. To describe project management in fieldwork and archaeological practice
3. To develop an understanding of the skills needed to describe and process archaeological finds
4. To explore the relationship between theory and practice in fieldwork and recording
5. To develop an understanding of the organisation of British archaeology and its role in the planning
6. To outline key issues with the publication of archaeological fieldwork
7. To provide an understanding of the relationship between archaeologists, stakeholders and the

Outline Of Syllabus

This module will follow the process of archaeological fieldwork, replicating the order in which they are usually applied (i.e. beginning with desk-based approaches and survey, moving through excavation and recording, and finishing with post-excavation and archiving). The following list of themes to be covered is intended as a guide, and week-by-week delivery may differ slightly.

Introduction to Desk-based assessment
Commercial archaeology in the UK
Using maps and images
Archives and Historic Environment Records
Metal detecting and the Portable Antiquities Scheme
Remote sensing
Stratigraphy and matrices
Survey and excavation
Recording, photography, and illustration
Archaeology in the field: a case study
Post-excavation and archiving
Preservation, conservation, and presentation

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

1. A knowledge and understanding of the context, management and publication of field projects
2. A knowledge and understanding of the strategies and methodologies used in field projects and
post-excavation analysis
3. An awareness of the varied application of field skills
4. A knowledge and understanding of the nature and practice of archaeological resource
5. An awareness and understanding of the ethical and legal issues relating to professional
archaeological practice and archaeological resource management

Intended Skill Outcomes

1. Development of archaeological field-based skills
2. Ability to assess and analyse current practices in professional archaeological practice
3. Ability to relate own field archaeology experience to wider professional archaeological practice
4. Ability to develop and implement strategies for recording data
Students will also develop the following key skills:
5. Time management
6. Bibliographic and library skills
7. Writing and revising analytical prose
8. Oral communication

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00Live lectures on campus if possible
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:0011:00Contact hours: pre-recorded lectures or engagement with other learning resources
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion621:0062:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading621:0062:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical111:0011:00Live practical instruction, workshops, and seminars, on campus if possible
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities221:0022:00Directed weekly reading associated with lectures and seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study211:0021:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

1.Lectures build on the student’s previous experience of fieldwork by placing it within the broader context of professional archaeological practice.

2.Lectures and practicals provide students with a greater depth of awareness and understanding of professional archaeological practice.

3.Practicals, taught in small groups, will develop a knowledge and understanding of key field skills and analytical skills

4. Summative assessment comprises an archaeological desk-based assessment of a site/landscape of the students' choice. A formative assessment will take place mid-way through the module, ensuring the principles, approaches and construction of a desk-based assessment is understood.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A1003000 words desk based assessment
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Report1M500 word report of methodology and process of desk-based assessment
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students draw on the knowledge and skills gained through the module to complete a Desk-Based Assessment (DBA), determining the known and potential heritage assets of a selected landscape. DBAs are a crucial tool in the professional heritage sector, often representing the first quantification of archaeological potential and significance in areas of future development. While important documents in their own right, DBAs are also key in shaping further stages of archaeological evaluation and play a large part in ensuring the efficacy and success of future mitigation strategies. Students will generate a hypothetical development at a location of their choice, replicating the research and analysis expected of the commercial heritage sector. This assessment is therefore designed to provide students with a real-world experience of professional practice in British commercial archaeology, while assessing ability to analyse data critically. Submitted work will test intended knowledge and skills outcomes, and develop key skills in research, reading and writing.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. Where an exam is present, an alternative form of assessment will be set and where coursework is present, an alternative deadline will be set. Details of the alternative assessment will be provided by the module leader.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2023/24 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2024/25 entry will be published here in early-April 2024. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.