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Past and future



This first-year introductory course will provide an overview of the emergence of archaeology as a discipline, and will relate to different aspects of the archaeological practice. Starting with lessons on the human curiosity about the past, we will move through the ages of history of ideas and archaeological thought, ending with the present developments of modern archaeology. Through excursions, individual and group projects you will explore and investigate wide-ranging aspects of archaeology from a professional and academic perspective. You will meet and interact with professionals ranging from commercial ventures to museums.
An important aspect is learning to articulate relevant inquiry questions. You will experience what it is like to plan projects, communicate your ideas to different audiences and value archaeological objects.

You will start with a group project, in which you make a first start in the development of a research question and discussion with peers. Next you will practice academic writing and presenting and show your writing skills in a paper on the theories used in archaeology.
The course will finish by a final essay on an archaeological object, through which you reflect on the value of material culture for understanding deep history.

Course objectives

By the end of this course the student will

  • have learned to recognise the history, schools of thought and basic organisation of the discipline of archaeology;

  • be able to articulate meaningful research questions;

  • be able to propose a basic archaeological project whilst considering legislation, local cultures and practical constraints;

  • have gained proficiency in a range of academic and professional communication skills, including writing, discussion and presentation;

  • have demonstrated ability to work independently and in groups.


Course schedule details can be found in the BA1 time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Group instructions during the lectures, followed by guided seminars in which students work on assignments, finished by a wrap-up meeting at the end of the day.

  • The assignments involve a group project and individual assignments on academic writing and presenting and three different excursions in which students work on assignments.

  • The first two writing assignments that will be graded will be written during these (supervised) seminars.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 12 lectures of 1 hour (1 ec);

  • 12 seminars of 4 hours and three excursion days, including assignments (2 ec);

  • 12 concluding sessions of 1 hour (1 ec);

  • Final paper (1 ec).

Assessment method

  • Group (5 students) project report of 2,000 words (25%);

  • Theoretical paper of 1,000 words (25%);

  • Final paper of 1,500 words (50%).

The individual grades can be compensated.

A retake is only allowed for the written papers, provided that the compulsory attendance requirements and the deadlines for the individual papers have been met.

The deadlines for the individual assignments can be found on BlackBoard, the deadline for the final essay can be found in the BA1 time schedule.

Reading list

  • C. Renfrew & P. Bahn, Archaeology: Methods, Theories and Practice. 6th edition (2012);

  • Several articles, will be handed out during the course.


Registration for the course or the exam is not required.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. ir. M.J. Driessen.


Compulsory attendance.