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Field Techniques


Admission requirements



This course forms the start of the learning trajectory 'professional skills'. This learning line runs through all years of study and consists of Field Techniques (BA 1), Field School 1 (BA1), Field School 2 (BA2), Internship BA3 and an optional Internship MA Applied Archaeology.
All skills acquired are registered in a portfolio.

The Field Techniques course itself is an introduction into the methods and techniques employed in archaeological field research and the subsequent processing of excavation data. The course consists out of three main parts: (1) a series of lectures and assignments on archaeological field techniques (2) building a database in Microsoft Access (3) a field recording practical.
The course runs throughout the second semester.

The series of lectures forms the theoretical basis of the course and is completed with a written exam. Lectures will be taught in both English and Dutch. During the field recording practical you practise different field recording techniques, both analogue and digital. The access course is aimed at acquiring basic knowledge of databases and statistics.

The Field Techniques course is followed by Field School 1, where all of the acquired skills are brought into practice in a real archaeological environment. The Field Techniques course helps you to gain basic knowledge and skills in archaeological field techniques. At the end of the course, you should have (practical) knowledge of how the archaeological record is formed and how we can begin to recover it (prospecting methods, excavation techniques, databases and various archaeological field recording techniques). You should also be able to report on different field registration techniques on a basic level.

Course set-up

Block 3:

  • 7 days of lectures (morning: 2 hours) + assignments (afternoon: 4 hours);

  • 4 half-day increments (4 hours each) of Access course.

Blocks 3+4:

Field recording practical: half-day increments (4 hours) as well as entire days (8 hours) in groups.

Due to COVID-19 measures in place, blocks and set-up of the course may change.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of the different types of archaeological data;

  • Knowledge of the way in which these archaeological data are collected and how they can be analysed;

  • Knowledge of the various excavation techniques and how they are applied in archaeology;

  • General knowledge of the basic concepts of a relational database system and the application of structured data collections in archaeology;

  • Ability to design, fill and query a database with archaeological data using the MS Access programme;

  • Ability to apply this to excavations as well as to research in the context of one’s own thesis;

  • Know how to prepare and perform a basic archaeological measurement project;

  • Ability to select and apply the applicable field recording techniques;

  • Ability to process the archaeological field data in a report explaining the methods used, and to describe them in accordance with applicable standards and guidelines;

  • Ability to work in a team.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Practicals.

Due to COVID-19 measures in place, the mode of instruction may change.

Course load

  • 14 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • 98 hours of practicals/assignments (7 ec);

  • +/- 280 pages of literature (2 ec).

Assessment method

  • Final essay (50%);

  • Assignments (25%);

  • Field recording practical (25%);

  • Compulsory attendance.

For the field recording practical a pass is required, without a pass you can not finish the course. Also for another practical (Access course) the requirements (attendance and submitting all practical assignments) need to be met, you receive a pass (DLN) for this practical part of the course.

Please note that all parts of this course have a compulsory attendance and that a retake for the practicals is not possible.

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

Reading list

  • C. Renfrew & P. Bahn, Archaeology: Methods, Theories and Practice. 7th edition (2018);

  • Several articles, to be announced during the course.


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. ir. M.J. (Mark) Driessen.


Compulsory attendance for the practical. You can miss no more than 1 out of 7 lectures (14 hours).