Archaeology BSc/MA/MA(SocSci)

Reflexive Archaeological Practice ARCH4065

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 40
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

This course covers a series of core practical aspects of archaeology, taking students through the processes of project design, discovery, survey, excavation, post-excavation and dissemination of results, with an emphasis on developing skills related to employability, and promoting critical thinking and reflexive practice.


Typically one two-hour session per week, to include lectures, workshops and fieldwork, plus one six-hour training day in the summer field school taken by all incoming Honours students, or similar.




Survey Design Report (2000 words) & plus a measured sketch which would be counted as the equivalent of 500 words - 25%

Publication Critique Essay (2500 words) - 25%

Artefact/ Material Report (2000 words) & plus tables/image - which would be counted as the equivalent of 500 words - 25%

Reflexive Portfolio (2500 words) - 25%

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Develop skills in and knowledge of a range of archaeological practices and methods, from survey work to artefact and ecofact analyses;

■ Reflect on aspects of archaeological practice through engagement with various specialists, professionals and experienced practitioners;

■ Consider the important of objective recording ideals, while gaining a greater appreciation of the role of interpretation and subjectivity in archaeological fieldwork;

■ Obtain an overarching view of the archaeological process, learning how different elements are linked together and inform one another, from project design and finding sites, through to final publication of fieldwork results, and stages in between;

■ Acquire knowledge of the structure of archaeology in Scotland, and where appropriate, beyond, and the ethical and social responsibilities of archaeologists within and beyond the profession;

■ Allow students to develop possible dissertation topics and future research interests, in particular related to material culture, and enhance employability.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Explain how an archaeological project is designed, showing knowledge of the basic elements and appreciation of how they are linked together, from conception to writing-up the final report;

■ Describe and evaluate techniques and methods employed by archaeologists;

■ Appraise the relationship between site morphology, stratigraphy, chronology and interpretation;

■ Design basic critically informed strategies for the survey, excavation, post-excavation and publication of an archaeological site or group of sites;

■ Question their own practice in a reflexive manner;

■ Contextualise archaeological practice within the current profession, in terms of policy and legislation;

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.