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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 and citizen science

  • Procedural 3D modelling

  • Simulation modelling

  • Remote sensing

  • Machine learning

  • Archaeogaming

In this course, through a mix of lectures, practical exercises and reading/writing assignments, 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 acquired in other MSc courses, e.g. Quantitative Methods in Archaeology or elective courses.

Course set-up

Prior to or during each class, one of the topics listed above will be introduced through a lecture, followed by reading/writing or a practical assignment on the same topic. Then the students have 1 week to work on their assignments, sometimes in groups, until the next class during which the assignments will be presented and discussed.

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 MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Practical exercises, partly in groups;

  • Plenary presentations and discussion;

  • Essay writing.

Course load

  • 7 hours of lectures (0.5 ec);

  • 21 hours of practical exercises (1.5 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.

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.

The final essay is due ca. 3 days before the final class, so it can be discussed in that class.

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 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.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. K. (Karsten) Lambers.


  • Compulsory attendance;

  • Students are required to use their own laptops/computers for some of the weekly assignments that include practical exercises.