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Study information

Experimental Archaeology in Practice 2

Module titleExperimental Archaeology in Practice 2
Module codeARCM102C
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Professor Linda Hurcombe (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

In this module you will acquire practical experience in various technologies that may be used in the development of archaeological experiments.

The module is compulsory for everyone taking a taught Masters in Experimental Archaeology. Students taking this module come from a wide range of backgrounds, from those continuing on from an Archaeology UG degree to crafts practitioners. By the end of the module you will have gained a level of knowledge and basic ability in a range of technologies appropriate to an application to the development of archaeological experiments, whether or not you have a first degree in the subject.

You will experience a range of technologies ranging from production of pottery to metallurgy There will also be opportunities to expand the normal range of subjects depending on what staff are teaching and the expertise brought to the modules by its participants. There are also likely to arise special opportunities based on outside activities in the area.

In experiments in practice, you will also learn how to apply your experiences and skills to the development of archaeological experiments, how the results of experiments may be used in interpretation and how experimental archaeology may be used as a tool in public outreach. Please note that this module is not available as an option on programmes other than the MSc in Experimental Archaeology.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to:

  • Apply the principles of experimental archaeology through reflective practice and to acquire basic competence in key areas and to reinforce experimental methodology and experiment design as a scientific method

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate originality in identifying opportunities for experimental methodology
  • 2. Demonstrate a practical understanding of pertinent technologies, functions and identification methods
  • 3. Demonstrate critical reflection on practical experience to a reasonable level in a variety of archaeological materials and processes
  • 4. Deal with complex issues systematically and creatively within acknowledged ethical, safety and conservation issues

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Evaluate critically and select and apply the methods of recording and analysis most appropriate for case studies
  • 6. Write clearly to a high level and succinctly using appropriate language and illustrative material completing work to a deadline

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Demonstrate the ability to work as an independent individual
  • 8. Demonstrate the ability to work as part of a team

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Ceramics
  • Lithics
  • Pyrotechnologies
  • Archaeometallurgy
  • Butchery
  • Functional Analysis
  • Organics
  • Introduction to Archaeometry
  • Individual Projects

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching8Introductory lecture material and discussion
Scheduled Learning and Teaching4Seminar discussion
Scheduled Learning and Teaching54Practicals, observation and participation in experiments; virtual, visual and physical self-study packs.
Guided Independent Study244Independent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Experiment design exercise500 words1-2,4-8Mark plus written feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Reflective journal 603500 words1-3, 4-8Mark plus written feedback
Individual experimental design assignment401500 words1-5, 8-9Mark plus written and oral feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Reflective journal Reflective journal (3500 words)1-3, 4-8Referral/Deferral period
Individual experimental design assignmentIndividual assignment (1500 words)1-5, 8-9Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

  • Bradley, B. Flintknapping with Bruce Bradley (DVD) Cortez, Colorado: INTERpark
  • Fullagar, R. (ed) 1998: A Closer Look: Recent Australian Studies of Stone Tools. Sydney: Sydney University.
  • Hurcombe, L. 1992: Obsidian Usewear Analysis: Theory, Experiments, Results. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.
  • Hurcombe, L. 2014: Perishable Material Culture in Prehistory, London: Routledge
  • Hurcombe, L. and Cunningham P. (ed.s) 2016: The Life Cycle of Structures in Experimental Archaeology, Leiden: Sidestone.
  • Juleff, G. 1998: Iron and Steel in Sri Lanka Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern.
  • Outram, A. 2008 Introduction to experimental archaeology, World Archaeology 40:1-6
  • Outram, A. and P. Rowley-Conwy 1998: Meat and marrow utility indices for horse (Equus) Journal of Archaeological Science 25, 839-849.
  • Rye, O. 1981: Pottery Technology Washington: Taraxatum.
  • Whittaker, J. 1994 Flintknapping: Making and Understanding Stone Tools Austin: University of Texas Press.

There will also be a video library associated with this course.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

ELE – 

Key words search

Archaeology, Experimental, Practical

Credit value30
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date