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What is Applied Archaeology?


Admission requirements

Admission to the Master Archaeology programme Applied Archaeology.


At the start of the course, you will be introduced to the methodological framework of applied archaeology, and its different disciplines. Subsequently, you will be confronted with the various scientific and societal frameworks for present-day archaeology.

The course gives an introduction to:

  • The ethical issues of archaeology and heritage management;

  • Archaeology within spatial planning;

  • Public and community archaeology and societal challenges;

  • The multi-, inter- and transdisciplinary character of applied archaeology;

  • The set-up and operationalisation of a research proposal in a professional setting, including questions and strategies.

Set-up of the course

Week 1
Theme: An introduction: What is Applied Archaeology? (2 x 2 hours of class)

Week 2
Theme: Archaeology = Heritage

Week 3
Theme: Research strategies in excavations

Week 4
Theme: Ethics in Applied Archaeology

Week 5
Theme: Archaeology within spatial planning

Week 6
Theme: Public archaeology

Week 7
Theme: Societal challenges – Archaeology within society

Course objectives

  • Ability to define the field of Applied Archaeology in a global perspective;

  • Ability to apply the methods and techniques of the Leiden/Saxion school of field and heritage archaeology;

  • Ability to formulate a research proposal, to translate this into a feasible research approach, and ability to execute this (in a professional context);

  • Awareness of the different discussions and innovations within archaeology and heritage (including technological developments and innovations), and ability to apply them;

  • Awareness of ethical issues of archaeological research and heritage management (in present-day societies);

  • Ability to sketch the opportunities of community archaeology and citizen science;

  • Insight in the societal context of (applied) archaeology (law, spatial planning, spatial integration of archaeological sites, (project) management, policy, conservation monitoring of sites), and ability to reflect on the long-term consequences;

  • Ability to formulate a properly argumented opinion on 1) the social value/benefit of archaeology in general, 2) why we excavate and 3) current societal issues.


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

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).

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 8 x 2 hours of lectures, 6 x 2 hours of tutorials (2 ec);

  • 6 short assignments linked to classes 2-7 (300 words each), presented during tutorial (1 ec);

  • 140 pages of literature (1 ec);

  • Final essay (1,800 words) (1 ec).

Assessment method

Final essay (100%).

The grade is formed by the final essay (counts for 100%, ca. 4500 wrds). The assignment will be distributed in the first week and is written in a group-context.
Besides the final essay, there will also be weekly assignments. Each assignment will be given a passed/not passed. Please note that all of them need to be passed in order to receive a grade for the final essay.

The final essay consists of writing a research proposal, based on one of the case studies available. You will have to formulate your own research question, select a fitting research strategy and methodology and take into account themes such as ethics, spatial planning and public awareness, such as discussed during the lectures. Please note that you have to keep to the maximum word-count mentioned in the assignment. If you surpass the maximum word-count, points will be subtracted.

Please note that a retake is only possible for the final essay, provided that all other requirements have been met. The retake consists of rewriting the original research proposal for which a maximum grade of 6.0 will be given.

All exam dates (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the MA and MSc examination schedule.
The weekly assignments have strict deadlines and are made in small groups.

Reading list

To be announced on BlackBoard, in the study manual.


Registration via uSis is mandatory.

  • The Administration Office will register all BA1 students for their tutorials (not lectures; register via uSis!).

  • BA2, BA3, MA/MSc and RMA/RMSc students are required to register for all lectures and tutorials well in time.

  • The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, students are not required to do this in uSis.


For more information about this course, please contact drs. F.C.M. (Femke) Tomas.


  • Compulsory attendance;

  • Final examination is also possible in Dutch.