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Scientific Methodology in Archaeology


Admission requirements

Admission to the MSc programme in Archaeology.


Scientific methods, techniques and approaches are becoming increasingly important in modern archaeology in general, and it is at the heart of archaeological science in particular.
This course will cover some of the basic material about the biotic and abiotic world that forms the framework in which research in archaeological sciences are carried out.

We will present topics that are core for understanding the archaeological records, including: principles of evolution, ecological theory, dating methods, stratigraphy and taphonomy.
The course will be organised around lectures, quizzes, and a group presentation to test your understanding of these themes and their application in archaeology.

Course objectives

By the end of this course, student will be able to

  • Identify which dating methods are appropriate in which archaeological contexts;

  • Explain how stratigraphy allows us to interpret archaeological sites;

  • Give an overview of taphonomic effects on the archaeological record;

  • Characterise the principles of evolution and drivers of natural selection and how they are relevant for archaeology;

  • Paraphrase how ecological theory is relevant for understanding human behavior in the past.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures that present data, paired with essential readings on individual topics;

  • Quizzes are used to assess knowledge;

  • Group presentation project that will allow the students to explore a new topic.

Due to COVID-19 measures in place, and depending on developments in the situation, the mode of instruction may change before or during the course.

Course load

  • 6 x 2 hours of lectures;

  • Preparation for each class session: reading;

  • Weekly quizzes;

  • Group work and presentation;

  • Final exam.

Assessment method

  • Presentation (25%);

  • Quizzes (25%);

  • Final exam (50%).

Only the final exam can be retaken.

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

Due to COVID-19 measures in place, and depending on developments in the situation, the assessment method may change before or during the course.

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. S.A. (Sarah) Schrader.


Compulsory attendance.