Module Catalogue 2019/20

ARA1026 : Introduction to Archaeological Science

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Andrea Dolfini
  • Demonstrator: Dr Chloe Duckworth
  • Lecturer: Dr Alasdair Charles, Dr Stephanie Piper, Dr Ashley Coutu, Dr Eric Tourigny
  • Teaching Assistant: Dr Francesco Carrer, Dr John Blong
  • Technician: Dr Eline Van Asperen
  • Other Staff: Miss Alicia Sawyer
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment

ARA1026 is a pre-requisite to ARA2004.

Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



Archaeological Science is the application of scientific methods to the study of the human past. In the last few decades, a wide range of scientific techniques have been employed by archaeologists to address an array of questions concerning past societies, including chronology, human evolution, climate, the environment, health, diet, technology, mobility, and the exchange of goods. This module will introduce some of the problems that archaeologists can address using scientific methods of enquiry. It will also show how science can be employed to enhance our understanding of the past. Case studies ranging from prehistory to historical times, hands-on laboratory sessions and group seminars will help students familiarise with this fascinating, ever-growing field of archaeology. Given its introductory nature, the module does not require students to have a background in science.
The aims of the module are:
• To introduce the principal scientific methods used today in archaeology
• To enable students to place archaeological science within the wider field of archaeology
• To foster an understanding of science as an essential tool for addressing social problems in archaeology
• To encourage students to develop an area of interest in specific aspects of archaeological science

Outline Of Syllabus

Lecture topics may include:
- Chronology and dating techniques
- Environmental archaeology and the landscape
- Geoarchaeology and sedimentology
- Zooarchaeology
- Bioarchaeology
- Diet and nutrition
- Mobility and exchange
- Ancient technologies and materials
- Statistics in archaeology
- DNA Research in Archaeology

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

In successfully completing the course students will be able to:
- Identify the principal archaeological questions that can be addressed through scientific methods.
- Identify the principal scientific methods employed today in archaeology and appraise their most common applications.
- Evaluate the main strengths and limitations of the scientific methods examined during the course.

Intended Skill Outcomes

- Comprehending and appropriately using scientific terminology in archaeology
- Assessing scientific publications in archaeology
- Enhancing students’ critical thinking and team working

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Present
    • Data Synthesis : Assessed
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Numeracy : Present
    • Literacy : Assessed
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Assessed
      • Synthesise And Present Materials : Assessed
  • Self Management
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Present
      • Decision Making : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Initiative : Present
      • Independence : Present
      • Problem Solving : Present
      • Adaptability : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Present
      • Interpersonal : Present
      • Written Other : Assessed
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present
      • Relationship Building : Present
      • Negotiation : Present
  • Application
    • Social Cultural Global Awareness : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture211:0021:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion731:0073:0045% of guided independent studies
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading731:0073:0045% of guided independent studies
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical151:0015:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching21:002:00Assignment preparation tutorial
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study161:0016:0010% of guided independent studies
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures provide an introduction to the archaeological questions and techniques discussed through the module.
Seminars provide students with an opportunity to discuss subjects in more depth and test their understanding of topics introduced in the class.
Laboratory practicals provide hands-on approaches to methods and their archaeological applications.
Tutorials and recaps provide support for assignment and exam preparation.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination902A50Multiple-choice quiz and open-answer test
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M50Article review (1,500-2,000 words)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The written exam evaluates students’ knowledge of the topics introduced in the module

The written assignment evaluates the ability to understand a scientific article and to discuss it by using scientific language

Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, develops key skills in research, reading and writing.

All Erasmus students at Newcastle University are expected to do the same assessment as students registered for a degree.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will take the form of an alternative assessment, as outlined in the formats below:

Modules assessed by Coursework and Exam:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be one essay in addition to the other coursework assessment (the length of the essay should be adjusted in order to comply with the assessment tariff); to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Exam only:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be two 2,000 word written exercises; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Coursework only:
All semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be expected to complete the standard assessment for the module; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.
Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 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 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.