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Discovering Archaeology: From Field to Finds Room


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The Discovering Archaeology: From Field to Finds Room short course provides you with a basic introduction to the practical and analytical skills of archaeology. Lectures and classes are designed to give you a comprehensive picture of the discipline and its practice in a contemporary context, with subjects ranging from preliminary site assessments to the excavation of a site and its interpretation.

Focusing on the archaeology of historical periods, you will gain a clearer understanding of the ways in which evidence is preserved in the archaeological record, and how data from fieldwork converges and contrasts with that derived from the written record. You will also be introduced to the different techniques of archaeological investigation, not only excavation but also non-invasive techniques.

We will evaluate current techniques of archaeology through case studies from a range of sites in northern Europe and the Mediterranean region, dating from the archaic to medieval periods. The case studies have been selected to demonstrate applications of different methods and encourage consideration of specialist debates in the field.

The course includes practical exercises in archaeological excavations, and lectures by Birkbeck and visiting specialists working in geoarchaeology, maritime archaeology, numismatics and other disciplines.

We plan to cover the following content:

  • Introduction: What is archaeology?
  • History of archaeology
  • Survey and prospection
  • Field trip - Avebury
  • Excavation
  • Survey and excavation
  • Maritime archaeology
  • GIS for archaeologists
  • Standing buildings
  • Archaeology and heritage
  • Dating techniques
  • Museum trip - Museum of London
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Palaeoenvironment
  • Animal bone
  • Human bone
  • Lithics
  • Pottery
  • Recording and conservation
  • Writing the past

Assessment of this course is via a 500-word review of an excavation report (20%), a 1500-word discussion of an exhibition (20%), a 2000-word essay (20%) and a three-hour examination (40%).

This can be taken as a standalone short course or as a part of:

30 credits at level 4

  • Entry requirements

    Entry requirements

    Most of our short courses have no formal entry requirements and are open to all students.

    This short course has no prerequisites.

    As part of the enrolment process, you may be required to submit a copy of a suitable form of ID.

    International students who wish to come to the UK to study a short course can apply for a Visitor visa. Please note that it is not possible to obtain a Student visa to study a short course.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You register directly onto the classes you would like to take. Classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis - so apply early. If you wish to take more than one short course, you can select each one separately and then register onto them together via our online application portal. There is usually no formal selection process, although some modules may have prerequisites and/or other requirements, which will be specified where relevant.