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Advanced Current Issues in Archaeological Science


Admission requirements

Admission to the RMSc Archaeology programme Archaeological Science.


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. Methodological developments have allowed us to re-examine long-held theories about the human past, and to create new interpretations about crucial aspects of human behavior, such as migration, dietary changes, and urbanisation. However, each method has limitations and interpretations must be made with care.

This capstone course will task you with critically assessing a current archaeological issue or research question from different perspectives. Guest lectures will be given by experts in new and developing methods, during which you will present your analysis. You will then discuss how these advances relate to recent archaeological debates. You will need to explore beyond your own specialisation, and adopt an interdisciplinary view on research questions.

Course objectives

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

  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of methods commonly used in the archaeological sciences;

  • Synthesise the results from a variety of methods as they relate to an archaeological research question;

  • Critically assess the application of these methods for the understanding of an archaeological research question;

  • Argue how a variety of methods contribute to the state-of-the-art understanding of an archaeological research question.


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 include an introductory content, followed by discussion in groups of the relation of this method to individual case studies, by both staff and students.

Course load

  • 6 x 2 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • Preparation for each class session: reading (1 ec);

  • In-class discussion, including preparation (1 ec);

  • Final presentation (1 ec);

  • Final essay of 1,800-2,000 words (1 ec).

Assessment method

  • In-class and online discussion within groups (20%);

  • Final in-class presentation (30%);

  • Final essay (50%).

The group discussion will be graded based on both content and communication style. RMsc students will be graded on the chairing of the discussion on campus and online during at least 1 session.

The final in-class presentation will be given in coordination with group members, but each student will present (and be graded) individually.
The final essay (40% of final grade), by contrast, will represent and reflect each individual student’s own contribution.

For the final essay, RMSc students are excepted to synthesise and integrate all relevant sources of evidence concerning the entire debate for their specific case study.

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. J.E. (Jason) Laffoon or dr. A.G. (Amanda) Henry.


Compulsory attendance.