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Advanced Current Issues in Archaeological Science


Admission requirements

Please note: use the activity number (to be found in the timetable) to register for the correct Brightspace module!

Admission to the RMSc Archaeology programme.


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. Methodological developments have allowed us to re-examine long-held theories about the human past, and to create new interpretations about crucial aspects of human behavior, such as migration, dietary changes, and urbanisation. However, each method has limitations and interpretations must be made with care.

This capstone course will task you with critically assessing a current archaeological issue or research question from different perspectives. Guest lectures will be given by experts in new and developing methods, during which you will present your analysis. You will then discuss how these advances relate to recent archaeological debates. You will need to explore beyond your own specialisation, and adopt an interdisciplinary view on research questions.

Course set-up

Each class will comprise the following elements: a lecture, followed by discussions within smaller working groups.

Course objectives

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

  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of methods commonly used in the archaeological sciences;

  • Synthesise the results from a variety of methods as they relate to an archaeological research question;

  • Critically assess the application of these methods for the understanding of an archaeological research question.


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

Mode of instruction

Lectures that include an introductory content, followed by discussion in groups of the relation of this method to individual case studies, by both staff and students.

Course load

  • 6 x 2 hours of lectures;

  • Preparation for each class session: reading;

  • In-class/online discussion;

  • Final presentation;

  • Final essay.

Assessment method

  • In-class and online discussion within groups (20%);

  • Final in-class presentation (30%);

  • Final essay (50%).

The group discussion will be graded based on both content and communication style. RMsc students will be graded on the chairing of the discussion offline and online during at least 1 session.
The final in-class presentation will be given in coordination with group members, but each student will present (and be graded) individually.

The final essay (40% of final grade), by contrast, will represent and reflect each individual student’s own contribution. The final essay is expected to contain an in-depth comparison of the results of two scientific methods and what they can/cannot reveal about the history of migration(s) for the assigned case study region.
For the final essay, RMSc students are expected to synthesise and integrate all relevant sources of evidence concerning the entire debate for their specific case study.

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

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. J.E. (Jason) Laffoon.


Compulsory attendance.