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Archaeological theory (BA3)



In this course, we discuss the development and use of archaeological theory. Rather than presenting the development of archaeological thought as linear (and implicitly progressive), we will delve into the pros and cons of different ways of approaching archaeological evidence by reading first-hand literature, and practice in different case studies.
Through weekly writing assignments critical reflections are practiced, which culminate in a final essay.

Course objectives

  • Create critical awareness of different theoretical paradigms and their intellectual backgrounds;

  • Develop nuanced views on the validity of different approaches old and new;

  • Ability to express this view in a clearly written (short) essay;

  • Establish first-hand acquaintance with a variety of influential archaeological thinkers.


Course schedule details can be found in the bachelor 3 time schedule.

Mode of instruction


Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 7×2 hours of lectures (1 ects);

  • ca. 280 pages of literature (2 ects);

  • Weekly discussion in 7 short essays of 350 words and 1 final essay of 1,200 words (2 ects).

Assessment method

  • 7 short essays (maximum 350 words) during the course (50%);

  • Final essay of 1,200 words (50%).

The deadline of the weekly essays is the next week after each lecture. The deadline for the final essay can be found in the examination schedule, the final essay will only be accepted after the submission of all 7 short essays. All essays must be submitted through Turnitin.

If you fail the exam, there is an opportunity for a resit. This is only allowed after submission of all essays during the course. The resit has the form of a single longer essay (4,000 words) on a topic from the course, to be chosen by the course coordinator, which needs to be written in 2 weeks’ time.

All exam dates (exams, re-sits, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

  • B.G. Trigger, A History of Archaeological Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2006) [2nd ed.];

  • Selection of essays and chapters by various influential archaeologists.

The full reading list will be made available prior to the first meeting on Blackboard.


Registration for the course is not necessary, registration for the exam is mandatory. For instructions, see the Registration in uSis page.

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

Registration Contractonderwijs

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 his course, please contact dr. T.D. Stek.


Compulsory attendance.