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Urban Archaeology


Admission requirements

Admission to the Master Archaeology programme, or equivalent.


The 'urban revolution’ swept through Europe after 1,000 CE and the Low Countries became, together with Italy, the most urbanised area in pre-industrial Europe. Along with history and cartography, archaeology is essential to understand the transformation that villages underwent in becoming towns and cities.
However, it was only in the 1980s that archaeologists began to systematically record uncovered material remains in medieval towns; urban archaeology as an academic discipline only developed after that. An ambitious new generation of scholars will be welcome.

The focus of the course will be on the archaeology of public health, waste management, water management and ‘smellscape-management’. A ‘whole town approach’ will be advocated.

An ongoing, underlying theme will be that urban archaeology not only deals with archaeological data but also with information from historical sources. In order to assign meaning to uncovered archaeological remains, written records often have to be consulted.
Although interdisciplinary research is an asset, the risks of misinterpretation must be mitigated whenever possible.

A second course theme is that many stakeholders must be taken into account in urban archaeology.
Case studies from the Low Countries and north-western Europe will be used.

Course objectives


The student will be able to critically reflect on a case study and place it within a broader social context.

Specific knowledge

The student will gain:

  • Knowledge and understanding of current debates in urban archaeology in general, and the archaeology of public health in particular;

  • Knowledge of golden rules for historical archaeologists (the importance of a historical time line and the concept of ‘Getrennt Marschieren, zusammen schlagen’).

Skills and methods

  • Multidisciplinary skills: Placing a case study within and critically consider developments in a historical framework;

  • Ability to transform concepts into research/field strategies.

Academic skills

  • Oral presentation skills;

  • Ability to work in a team;

  • Secondary-source research;

  • Learning from feedback;

  • Writing skills (e.g., the importance of good headings, weekly essay title competition; becoming familiar with the CARS model);

  • Ability to properly formulate and present an argument and demonstrate a precise and academic approach to an archaeological issue.


Course schedule details can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • One-hour feedback prior to the group presentation;

  • Student presentations.

Course load

  • 7 × 2 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • 280 pages of readings (2 ec);

  • Assignments and presentation, including 1 hour feedback prior to the group presentation (2 ec).

Assessment method

  • Group presentation (10%);

  • 6 assignments: 1 assignment ‘urban archaeology in peer-reviewed papers’, 4 essays and 1 poster. References are required for all assignments (6 × 15% = 90%).

The essays and presentation must be submitted through Turnitin.
More detailed instructions for the essays and the presentation will be available in the course manual on Brightspace.

This course comprises 6 assignments and a group presentation. A retake of an assignment or the presentation is not possible, a fail for an assignment can be compensated by other assignments.

Assessment deadlines

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button. To view the assessment deadline(s), make sure to select the course with a code ending in T and/or R.

Each week there will be either an assignment (essay or poster) or a presentation due. The deadline for the assignments is 11 pm, the Sunday prior to the class. Please note that extensions on assignments will not be given.

Reading list

Readings will be announced throughout the course.


Registration in uSis is mandatory. You can register for this course until 5 days before the first class.

Registration in uSis automatically leads to enrollment in the corresponding Brightspace module. Therefore you do not need to enroll in Brightspace, but make sure to register for this course in uSis.

You are required to register for all lectures and tutorials well in time. The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, you are not required to do this in uSis.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.

All information (costs, registration, entry requirements, etc.) for those who are interested in taking this course as a Contractstudent is on the Contractonderwijs Archeologie webpage (in Dutch).


For more information about this course, please contact dr. R.M.R. (Roos) van Oosten.


Compulsory attendance.