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Archaeological Science Specialisation Course: Digital Archaeology


Admission requirements

  • BA or BSc degree in Archaeology or a closely related discipline;

  • Admission to the MSc Archaeology programme Archaeological Science;

  • Knowledge about and skills in Field Techniques and Geographic Information Systems on a level corresponding to the Leiden BA courses on these topics.


Digital data and tools have become an indispensable element of current archaeological practice. Used correctly, they help to make the archaeological workflow more efficient, versatile, safe, and transparent.

But digital archaeology is more than that. Recent developments in computational methods and techniques open up new ways of investigating the human past that have a transforming impact on how we gain and share archaeological knowledge. Examples of these new approaches include:

  • Open science

  • Procedural modelling

  • Simulation

  • Remote sensing

  • Machine learning

  • Archaeogaming

Through a mix of lectures, practical exercises and reading/writing assignments, in this course we will get acquainted with the theory and practice of some of these approaches. The focus will be on current trends and challenges.

We will furthermore discuss the nature and future of digital archaeology within the wider discipline. You will be required to write an essay on this topic during the course. The essays will serve as a starting point for a group discussion during the final class.

This course is intended to give an overview of important sub-fields of digital archaeology. More in-depth, practical skills in selected methods and techniques can be gained through an internship in digital archaeology, which is available as an elective course for MSc students.

Course set-up

During each class, one of the topics listed above will be introduced through a lecture, followed by reading/writing or a practical assignment. Then the students have one week to work on their assignments until the next class, sometimes in groups. In the subsequent week the assignments will be presented and discussed in class.

Course objectives

To provide students with a thorough knowledge of current issues in digital archaeology, and the role of digital data and computational tools within archaeology. At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • give an overview of current trends in digital archaeology;

  • identify relevant data and tools for selected sub-fields of digital archaeology;

  • conduct practical exercises in selected sub-fields of digital archaeology and present them to their peers;

  • form an informed opinion on the nature and future of digital archaeology on a theoretical level, and present and substantiate it in writing as well as in a group discussion.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Practical exercises, partly in groups;

  • Plenary presentations and discussion;

  • Essay writing.

Course load

  • 14 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • 14 hours of practical exercises (1 ec);

  • 280 pages of literature (2 ec);

  • Essay of 1,500-1,800 words (1 ec).

Assessment method

  • Presentations in class (50%);

  • Final essay (50%).

The final grade will be the average of the partial grades of the presentations and the final essay. Only the final essay can be retaken.

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

Reading list

  • Evans, T.L. & P. Daly (eds), 2005. Digital Archaeology: Bridging Method and Theory. London: Routledge;

  • Lock, G., 2003. Using Computers in Archaeology: Towards Virtual Pasts. London, Routledge.


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. K. (Karsten) Lambers.


  • Compulsory attendance;

  • Although the course will be taught in the computer lab, students will be required to use their own laptops/computers for some of the weekly assignments that include practical exercises.