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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 executed. Therefore, prospective research is a key element in most archaeological researches all around the world.

Based on the results, choices have to be made for further research of a site, sustainable preservation and conservation of a site, or even releasing a site. There is also a focus on the societal aspect of prospective research including why we have to make certain choices.

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.
If possible, the design 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.

Set-up of the course

Week 1
Theme: Methodological framework: what is prospective archaeology?

Week 2
Theme: Reading the landscape

Week 3
Theme: Prospecting ‘drowned’ landscapes

Week 4
Theme: Prospecting a landscape 1

Week 5
Theme: Prospecting a landscape 2

Week 6
Theme: Prospecting anthropogenic mounds

Week 7
Theme: Prospective archaeology in an urban context

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 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, 5 x 2 hours of tutorials, one day fieldwork (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%).

All assignments should be completed. The assignment will be distributed in the first week and is written individually (preferably in English, but Dutch is possible.). Weekly assignments will be given a passed/not passed, all of them need to be passed in order to receive a grade for the final essay.

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, provided that all other requirements have been met.

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.


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 dr. R. (Richard) Jansen.


  • Compulsory attendance.

  • Final examination is also possible in Dutch.