This module focuses on the acquisition of fundamental skills needed in archaeological practice. Students will develop core practical, computing and digital data skills used in archaeological assessments, survey, excavation and reporting. While these are essential for those going on to practice as archaeologists, many of the skills acquired will be useful in careers outside the archaeological and heritage sectors and for final-year dissertations. Learning is through weekly lectures, practicals, directed and independent weekly reading and digital-portfolio tasks. Students are introduced to the legislative framework for UK commercial archaeology, the basic principles of site and soil formation and sampling, landscape survey, artefact analysis and curation, illustration, photography and data management. They undertake weekly practical sessions to develop skills in a wide array of techniques from flotation to the use of differential GPS equipment and fieldwalking. The overarching aim is for students to achieve a basic understanding and competence in core techniques which will provide them with a solid basis for professional accreditation with e.g. the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland (IAI) or the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA), and the ability to plan their continued professional development independently.
You will gain familiarity with the the diverse sources of evidence used by archaeologists, with the principles of the archaeological process in professional practice, and with relevant legal, policy, and ethical frameworks in the UK. In addition, you will develop an appreciation of what causes variation in different evidence classes (e.g. taphonomy; recovery procedures) and the effect of these on our interpretations. You will also develop an ability to find and interrogate relevant digital datasets and an understanding of where to find jobs in the archaeology and heritage sectors as well as a sound knowledge of the skills and experience required for professional accreditation.