nl en

Introducing Applied Archaeology


Admission requirements

Admission to the Master Archaeology programme Applied Archaeology.


Contemporary archaeology is multidisciplinary. Present-day archaeologists are able to execute project-based fieldwork within a professional context. They are aware of the goal of protecting heritage, are communicators, have a keen eye for the public and are able to make the public part of a research. They understand and are able to explain the relevance and impact of archaeological research. An archaeologist can be a scientist, a project manager, a communicator, heritage specialist and/or a policy maker.

In this course you are introduced to the broadness of applied archaeology and the interrelatedness of the different disciplines therein. Through lectures and related assignments and proposals discussed in tutorials you are confronted with the various scientific and societal frameworks for present-day archaeological practice.

The course introduces:

  • Ethical issues of archaeology and heritage management;

  • Archaeology within spatial planning;

  • Public and community archaeology and societal challenges;

  • The multi-, inter- and transdisciplinary character of applied archaeology;

  • The setting up and operationalisation of a research proposal in a professional setting including questions and strategies.

Course set-up

Week 1
Theme: Applying Archaeology – An Introduction
Subjects: 1) The historical and global framework and the multi, inter- and transdisciplinary character of applied archaeology; introduction of the final assignment.
2) Tutorial.

Week 2
Theme: Archaeology = Fieldwork
Subjects: 1) Research strategies in excavations; why do we excavate? Excavation is not a goal in itself; setting up a research proposal and operationalisation of the proposal (field strategies, sampling).
2) Tutorial.

Week 3
Theme: The context of fieldwork
Subjects: 1) Fieldwork is executed in a professional context in many countries as part of spatial planning and/or landscape design; the ‘context’ of an excavation; excavating in a commercial context; project management.
2) Tutorial.

Week 4
Theme: Archaeology = Public
Subjects: 1) Citizen science (amateur archaeologists); community archaeology; the cultural diversity of society; democratisation of the past; ’how do we reconstruct the past’? Why excavate?
2) Tutorial.

Week 5
Theme: Archaeology = Heritage
Subjects: 1) Approaches of heritage management; site management, protection and monitoring; sustainable preservation and its long-term consequences.
2) Tutorial.

Week 6
Theme: Ethics in Archaeology
Subjects: 1) Uniqueness: ‘who owns the past’? and rights of local and indigenous peoples (appropriation of heritage; the archaeology of sites of memory.
2) Tutorial.

Week 7
Theme: Societal challenges – The Past Matters
Subjects: 1) Knowledge utilisation; Sustainable Development Goals; contribution to societal discussions about e.g. climate change, nature development; social return on investment: the role of heritage and archaeology.
2) Tutorial.

Course objectives

  • Ability to define the field of applied archaeology in a global perspective;

  • Ability to apply the methods and techniques of the Leiden/Saxion-school of field and heritage archaeology;

  • Ability to formulate a research proposal, to translate this into a workable research approach and the ability to execute this (in a professional context);

  • Awareness of the different discussions and innovations within archaeology and heritage (including technological developments and innovations) and the ability to apply them;

  • Awareness of ethical issues of archaeological research and heritage management (in present-day societies);

  • Insight in the possibilities and opportunities of public archaeology;

  • Insight in the societal context of (applied) archaeology (legislation, spatial planning, spatial integration of archaeological sites, (project) management, policy, conservation monitoring of sites) and the ability to reflect on the long-term consequences;

  • Ability to formulate a properly argumented opinion on 1) the social value/benefit of archaeology in general, 2) why we excavate and 3) current societal issues;

  • Ability to relate the different disciplines and aspects of contemporary archaeology.


Course schedule details can be found in the MA and MSc time schedule.

Mode of instruction

Format: 2 x 2 hours per week (with 2 days in between). The first class of the week consists of a formal lecture. In the second class of the week an assignment will be discussed (e.g. by presentation, paper, discussion, etc.).

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

  • 7 x 2 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • 7 x 2 hours tutorials (1 ec);

  • 7 assignments presented during tutorial (1.5 ec);

  • 210 pages of literature (1.5 ec).

Assessment method

A pass for the first assignment. The grade is based on the next 6 group assignments (6×16,6% = 100%).

The assignments must be submitted through Turnitin; the weekly deadline is 2 hrs. before the start of each tutorial.
A retake of an assignment is not possible, a fail for an assignment can be compensated by other assignments.

All exam dates (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the MA and MSc examination schedule.
The weekly assignments have strict deadlines and are made in small groups.

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

To be announced on Brightspace, in the study manual.


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 drs. R. (Richard) Jansen.


  • Compulsory attendance;

  • Final examination is also possible in Dutch.