History MA/MA(SocSci)

Geographical Information Systems in Archaeology ARCH4026

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will introduce you to the creation of digital maps and the management and analysis of digital geospatial data within a Geographical Information System, using archaeological case studies. It also introduces python scripting for geospatial data management and analysis.


10x2hr lecture/practical sessions, as scheduled on MyCampus. This is one of the Honours options in Archaeology and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus

Excluded Courses





1-hour exam, 1000 words: 40%

800-word Project proposal: 15%

2200-word Project: 45%

Much of the Project proposal and Project will consist of GIS files, so the word counts given here are rough equivalents.

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

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:

■ provide an introduction to Geographical Information Systems software and its use within archaeology

■ provide an introduction to the use of python scripting to manipulate geospatial data for archaeological projects

■ develop an understanding of the underlying data, including recording methods and their limitations, within an archaeological context.

■ apply a range of geospatial analysis and visualisation techniques to archaeological problems, including site and landscape survey, modelling topographic and geophysical data, and 3-D archaeological modelling.

■ enable the acquisition of a range of advanced computer-based skills beyond the typical generic skills.

■ promote the use of appropriate computer-based techniques and technology within archaeology.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ critically evaluate the characteristics and quality of geospatial archaeological data

■ critically evaluate the relevance of specific analytical or visualisation methods to different archaeological problems

■ apply a range of software and scripting tools to address different archaeological problems in an appropriate manner

■ apply a range of software and scripting tools to manage, manipulate, and represent geospatial archaeological data

■ demonstrate comprehension of core geospatial concepts relevant to archaeological projects

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.