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Advanced Scientific Methodology in Archaeology


Admission requirements

Admission to the RMSc Archaeology programme.


Scientific methods, techniques and approaches are becoming increasingly important in modern archaeology in general, and it is at the heart of archaeological science in particular.
This course will cover some of the basic material about the biotic and abiotic world that forms the framework in which research in archaeological sciences are carried out.

We will present topics that are core for understanding the archaeological records, including: principles of evolution, ecological theory, dating methods, analytical techniques, stratigraphy, and taphonomy.

Course set-up

The course will be organised around lectures, quizzes, and a group presentation to test your understanding of these themes and their application in archaeology.

Course objectives

By the end of this course, student will be able to:

  • Identify which dating methods are appropriate in which archaeological contexts;

  • Explain how stratigraphy allows us to interpret archaeological sites;

  • Give an overview of taphonomic effects on the archaeological record;

  • Characterise the principles of evolution and drivers of natural selection and how they are relevant for archaeology;

  • Paraphrase how ecological theory is relevant for understanding human behavior in the past;

  • Determine which analytical protocols and methods are relevant for materials science analyses;

  • Critically review the significance of current research within the field as a whole;

  • Report such reviews in writing;

  • Formulate new and innovative directions of research.


Course schedule details can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures that present data, paired with essential readings on individual topics;

  • Quizzes are used to assess knowledge;

  • Group presentation project that will allow the students to explore a new topic.

Course load

  • 7 x 2 hours of lectures (1.5 ec);

  • Preparation for each class session: 280 pages of literature (2 ec);

  • 6 hours of weekly quizzes (0.5 ec);

  • 12 hours of group work and presentation (1 ec).

Assessment method

  • Presentation (30%);

  • Quizzes (30%);

  • Final exam (40%).

Only the final exam can be retaken.

Assessment deadlines

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button. To view the assessment deadline(s), make sure to select the course with a code ending in T and/or R.

Reading list

To be announced.


Registration in uSis is mandatory. You can register for this course until 5 days before the first class.

Registration in uSis automatically leads to enrollment in the corresponding Brightspace module. Therefore you do not need to enroll in Brightspace, but make sure to register for this course in uSis.

You are required to register for all lectures and tutorials well in time. The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, you are not required to do this in uSis.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. S.A. (Sarah) Schrader.


Compulsory attendance.