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Past and Future


Admission requirements



Why archaeology? 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 the field has seen. And we will show how archaeology plays its part in politics, economics, and is an important voice in tackling today’s societal challenges.

All of this will take place in a series of lectures that start with the statement: Archaeology is .....
Over the course of 7 lectures and tutorials we will discuss, among others, whether archaeology is science, humanities, politics, fun and games, money, or just 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 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, group problem-based learning projects, 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 archaeology?;

  • 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, discussion, and presentation;

  • Have demonstrated the ability to work independently and in groups.


Course schedule details can be found in the BA1 time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Recorded lectures;

  • Online supervision;

  • On-campus tutorials;

  • Meet & question time with key people in archaeology and heritage;

  • Tutorials on academic writing, and a writing assignment.

Due to COVID-19 measures in place, and depending on developments in the situation, the mode of instruction may change before or during the course.

Course load

  • Recorded lectures (1 ec);

  • 14 hours of tutorials (1 ec);

  • Reading, preparation and small assignments (2 ec);

  • Academic essay (1 ec).

Assessment method

  • Individual essay of 2,000 words (75%);

  • Assignment (25%).

A retake for the individual essay is only allowed if the compulsory attendance requirements and the deadline for the initial paper have been met. An evaluation rubric for essay can be found on Brightspace.

All exam dates (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the BA1 time schedule.

Due to COVID-19 measures in place, and depending on developments in the situation, the assessment method may change before or during the course.

Reading list

Literature for the reading list (max. 140 pages) is presented in the course outline, which can be found on Brightspace.


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. M.H.G. (Maikel) Kuijpers.


Compulsory attendance.