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Prospective Archaeology


Admission requirements

Admission to the Master Archaeology programme Applied Archaeology.


An archaeological research generally starts with a desk-based assessment of a research area (either a landscape or a site). Based on an expectation model and meaningful research questions, a prospective field research is carried out. Therefore, prospective research is a key element in most archaeological research all around the world.

Based on the results of prospective research, choices have to be made for either further research of sites, for sustainable preservation and conservation, or even for releasing sites.

In this course the methodological problems involved in the various prospective methods (and in predictive models) are discussed. You learn how to make a proper research outline for a prospective research.

The course also offers a focus on the societal aspect of prospective research, including why we have to make certain choices.
If possible, the design/ research outline will be applied to a practical situation during fieldwork, in general a survey and/or excursion.

You will be taught which research questions are vital, and how they should be formulated to generate new knowledge through non-destructive research. Furthermore, we will discuss how to translate research problems into prospective fieldwork strategies and their application.

Based on actual and different case studies around the world, project outlines are made, assessed and discussed in small teams.

Course set-up

Each week, we will discuss one specific theme related to prospective research during 2 hours of lectures by experts from Leiden University and Saxion. After that you will work on a weekly assignment which will be discussed in a 2-hour seminar. Themes include:

  • Methodological framework: what is prospective archaeology?

  • Reading the landscape: cartographic sources

  • Prospecting: intrusive methods

  • Prospecting: non-intrusive methods

  • Prospecting: ‘drowned’ landscapes

  • Prospecting: anthropogenic mounds

  • Prospecting: island/desert/urban landscapes

Course objectives

  • Ability to translate research problems into practical fieldwork;

  • Ability to place your own research within a theoretical framework, and ability to reflect upon this;

  • Ability to translate a predictive model for a specific region to policy and management recommendations;

  • Knowledge of predictive models and prospective field methods, ability to reflect on these and the choice for the best model/method for a given area and period, and ability to give recommendations for further research, policy and management;

  • Insight in archaeological formation and deformation processes;

  • Ability to critically reflect on the implications of these processes and to give recommendations for in-situ conservation, including site management and monitoring;

  • Insight in the societal aspects of archaeological research and the choices made;

  • Oral presentation skills;

  • Ability to work in a team.


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

Meetings take place 2 x 2 hours per week (with 2 days in between). Each week, the first class consists of a formal lecture. In the second class a weekly assignment will be discussed (e.g. by presentation, paper, discussion, mentimeter etc).

Assessment method

  • 6 weekly assignments (35%);

  • Final essay (65%).

All short weekly assignments must be completed. The essay assignment will be distributed in the first week and is written in small teams consisting of 2-3 persons (preferably in English, but Dutch is also allowed).

The essay consists of writing a research proposal for a prospective research. Translate your own research object and questions into a well-founded research strategy. Demonstrate that you are able to reflect on the choice of methodology, and frame the research within its context. A calculation of the financial consequences of project outlines is part of the assignment as well.

A retake is only possible for the final essay, in case of an essay grade below 5.5, provided that all other requirements have been met.

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.

The weekly assignments have strict deadlines and are made in small groups. Deadlines of weekly assignments and the final assignment will be communicated during the first lecture and are listed in the course outline (on Brightspace).

Reading list

To be announced in the course outline (on Brightspace).


Enrolment through MyStudymap is mandatory.

General information about registration can be found on the Course and Exam Enrolment page.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. M.S. (Maaike) de Waal.


Compulsory attendance.