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Scientific Methodology in Archaeology


Admission requirements

Admission to the MSc Archaeology programme.


Scientific methods, techniques and approaches are becoming increasingly important in modern archaeology in general, and it is at the heart of archaeological science in particular.
This course will cover some of the basic material about the biotic and abiotic world that forms the framework in which research in archaeological sciences are carried out.

We will present topics that are core for understanding the archaeological records, including: principles of evolution, ecological theory, dating methods, analytical techniques, stratigraphy, and taphonomy.

Course set-up

The course will be organised around lectures, quizzes to test your understanding of these themes and their application in archaeology, and the preparation of an unessay / portfolio to more deeply explore a relevant question in archaeological sciences.

Course objectives

By the end of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Identify which dating methods are appropriate in which archaeological contexts;

  • Explain how stratigraphy allows us to interpret archaeological sites;

  • Give an overview of taphonomic effects on the archaeological record;

  • Characterise the principles of evolution and drivers of natural selection and how they are relevant for archaeology;

  • Paraphrase how ecological theory is relevant for understanding human behavior in the past;

  • Determine which analytical protocols and methods are relevant for materials science analyses.


Course schedule details can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures that present data, paired with essential readings on individual topics;

  • Quizzes are used to assess knowledge;

  • Unessay / Portfolio: Explore an archaeological science question in a non-essay format. Examples include creating an infographic, preparing a poster, designing an experiment, making an instructional video, preparing a demonstration for the public, gamifiying of archaeology.

Assessment method

  • Final exam (40%);

  • Unessay / Portfolio (30%);

  • Quizzes (30%).

Only the final exam can be retaken.

Assessment deadlines

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button. To view the assessment deadline(s), make sure to select the course with a code ending in T and/or R.

Reading list

To be announced.


Enrolment through MyStudymap is mandatory.

General information about registration can be found on the Course and Exam Enrolment page.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. A.G. (Amanda) Henry or dr. D.J.G. (Dennis) Braekmans.


Compulsory attendance.