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Past and Future


Admission requirements



Why does archaeology matter? You will likely have heard this question already, and you will certainly hear it many times more.
This course will help you to give a pertinent answer by presenting a kaleidoscopic overview of archaeology as a discipline, and its relevance.

During this course we introduce you to what archaeology was, what archaeology is, and – most importantly – what archaeology can be.
We will guide you through the history of archaeology, some of the very first excavations, and the reasons for the emergence of the field. We will meet some famous archaeologists and walk you through the main theoretical developments that the field has seen.

Mostly, we aim to demonstrate how archaeology is involved in politics, and how it is an important voice in tackling today’s societal challenges. We explicitly connect our modern existential challenges – such as inequality, climate change, cultural conflicts – with our long-term, dynamic human experience, known as the past.

All of this will take place in a series of lectures that start with the statement: Archaeology is …..
Over the course of seven lectures and tutorials we will discuss, among others, whether archaeology is science, humanities, politics, fun and games, money, or excavations.
Some of the questions we will encounter are: Is archaeology about preserving, or excavating and collecting? Should archaeologists take responsibility for the knowledge they produce? Is curiosity a valid reason to do research or should there always be a broader relevance to it? For whom are we excavating? And who owns the past?

By the end of this course, you will have an overview of the many faces of archaeology and archaeologists, and you will be better able to choose your own path within your studies and your professional career. Given that you are the new generation of archaeologists, the final part of this course what archaeology can be is up to you to decide on.

Course set-up

Lectures, tutorials, individual weekly reflection assignments, peer-review and professional supervision.

Course objectives

By the end of this course the student will:

  • Be able to formulate a pertinent answer to the question: why does archaeology matter?;

  • Have an overview of the many different aspects of the archaeological discipline;

  • Have learned to recognise the history, schools of thought, and basic organisation of the discipline of archaeology;

  • Be able to start developing a personal focus, aim and attitude with regards to the professional field of archaeology and its future directions;

  • Have practiced in a range of academic and professional communication skills, including writing, formulating research questions, and discussion;

  • Have demonstrated the ability to work independently;

  • Have written a first academic paper.


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

  • Recorded lectures, on-campus tutorials, meet & question time with key people in archaeology and heritage;

  • Tutorials on academic writing, and a writing assignment.

Assessment method

  • Individual essay of 1,000 words (75%);

  • Assignments (25%).

A retake for the individual essay is only allowed if the deadline for the initial paper has been met.
The retake is either a rewriting of the initial paper, including the feedback given by the supervisor, or an entirely new paper on a new topic. With the first option the highest grade possible is a 7.0.

An evaluation rubric for the essay can be found on Brightspace.

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 deadlines for assignments and the individual essay can be found on Brightspace.

Reading list

  • Fagan, B. M. & Durrani, N. (2020). Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters. London: Thames and Hudson;

  • Some of the assignments will have additional literature.


The Administration Office will register all Archaeology BA1 students in uSis for their lectures, tutorials and exams in semester 1 and semester 2.

However for exams, confirmation through MyStudymap is mandatory.
No confirmation = no participation!

If you are not a BA1 student, but want to take this course, please contact the Administration Office.

General information about registration can be found on the Course and Exam Enrolment page.

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. M.E. (Martin) Berger or prof. dr. J.C.A. (Jan) Kolen