nl en

Urban archaeology


Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

BA degree (or equivalent) in Archaeology or other relevant discipline.


During this course, key developments in urban archaeology will be discussed. The main focus is on the archaeology of towns and cities in the period after 1,000 AD. Case studies will be derived from the Low Countries and North-Western Europe.


  • The urban revolution in North-Western Europe;

  • Topographical factors in towns and shaping the townscape;

  • Sanitation management;

  • (Hanseatic) trade and ceramics.

Themes at stake are research ethics and methodology. Urban archaeology often yields compelling results that appeal to a wide audience. Attracting media attention is part and parcel of excavating within a still occupied settlement. At the same time, archaeologist have to make sure that the results of excavations to the media comply with academic rules.
In close parallel to this is the fact that in order to assign meaning to the uncovered archaeological remains, written records will often be consulted. And although doing interdisciplinary research is an asset, the risks of misinterpretation must be mitigated wherever possible.

The course is open to RMA-students. However, although they will be participating in the same sessions, their assignments will be different. Each RMA-student will be asked to play a major role in the session discussion. In addition they will write an essay in which one theme/topic will be studied in more depth, reviewed, and new directions for research formulated.

Course objectives

For MA-students:

  • Knowledge of the process of urbanisation for the Low Countries in a European setting;

  • Ability to apply major topics and concepts to a case study;

  • Oral presentation skills;

  • Ability to work in a team;

  • Critical reading skills;

  • Ability to properly formulate and present an argument and demonstrate a precise and academic approach to an archaeological issue.

Extra for RMA-students:
Ability to

  • assess and evaluate different opinions;

  • review the significance of regional/local research in terms of broader issues or in other words;

  • quickly shift from a a micro scale view to a macro scale view and vice versa;

  • formulate new directions for research.

Ects distribution

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 7 × 2 hours of lectures (1 ects);

  • 280 pages of literature (2 ects);

  • Assignments and group-presentation (2 ects).


Course schedule details can be found in the MA time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Student presentations;

Assessment method

  • Entry-test (10%). The entry test will be held at the first meeting;

  • Assignments (70%);

  • Group-presentation in class (20%).

Assessment deadline

The assignments have weekly deadlines. Assignments must be handed in 2 days before the next class is scheduled. The last assignment is to be handed in 2 days before the last class.

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

The assignments and the reading list will be posted on Blackboard.

For the entry-test a selection will be made of chapters from J. Schofield & A. Vince, Medieval Towns in their European Setting (2005/1994).


Register for this course via uSis.
Instructions for registration can be found in the uSis manual.

Contact information

For more information about this course, please contact mw. dr. R.M.R. van Oosten.