ARMEPP-In at the Deep End: Professional Practice

Module Provider: Archaeology
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Dr Mary Lewis


Type of module:

Summary module description:

This unique module prepares you for the reality of working on a modern archaeological site as a professional osteoarchaeologists. You will learn about burial legislation, ethics and health and safety aspects of working as a professional. It takes a ‘forensic’ style approach to the understanding how to excavate human skeletal remains, supervise cemetery excavations and make quick decisions about excavation and sampling strategies. You will be introduced to the roles of other professionals that work on-site, how to work with clients, tender and to make well-reasoned recommendations to those in the commercial and academic heritage sectors. You will be introduced to the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), Management of Projects in the Historic Environment (MoRPHE) and associated professional standards (by CIfA, and BABAO). It also explores other job roles including working for museums as educators and curators of human remains. You will meet a variety of specialists working in Museums, Units, and Government agencies through guest lectures and site visits.


This module prepares you for the reality of working on a modern archaeological site as a professional osteoarchaeologists. It explores the skills required to manage large excavations, watching briefs and working with ‘clients’. It also explores other job roles including working for museums as educators and curators of human remains.

Assessable learning outcomes:

At the end of the module you should:

  • Understand the importance and difference between a desk-based assessment, project design, excavation and watching brief including the different types of sites and clients involved, their different requirements, logistics.

  • Demonstrate critical understanding of the role and needs of various stakeholders (architects, engineers, planning archaeologists, religious organisations, other specialists in related fields, the public and academics) consultants and exhumation companies are important ones to include.

  • Be able to produce a detailed proposal and project design for the excavation of a burial site

  • Have a critical understanding of the ethical, legal, health and safety and logistic requirements of such an excavation

  • Be able to provide a timetable and cost-effective budget for a burial excavation or other forms of assessment

  • Be able to effectively communicate such a proposal in front of an audience

Additional outcomes:

Through site visits and guest lectures you will gain insight into the variety of roles and demands placed upon osteoarchaeologists working in a modern commercial environment and develop an appreciation of the make quick decisions about excavation and sampling strategies; and how to cope with complex stratigraphy.  You will also have the opportunity to develop your team working and leadership skills.

Outline content:

Lectures will cover the law related to burials and exhumations, ethics, museum governance, tendering for jobs, watching briefs, large commercial excavations and the role of Government agencies (Historic England) and professional organisations (e.g. BABAO, CiFA). Through site visits you will experience what it is like to work in a museum of commercial unit on both small- and large-scale projects and explore the potential impact of HS2 on current working practices.  The module ends with a mock excavation of a burial.

Global context:

Where necessary, differences in the legal system, organisations or practices elsewhere in the world will be highlighted.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 12
Seminars 6
External visits 5 5
Guided independent study: 77
Total hours by term 100 5
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 80
Oral assessment and presentation 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will be asked to prepare a project design to represent a grant application / tender document (80%; 3000 words) and oral presentation (20%; 15-minute presentation), that demonstrates an understanding of: (1) the project; (2) justification of the analytical techniques that might be applied, and (3) the time and cost management of the project.

Formative assessment methods:

Students will be invited to submit a draft CV outlining their skills and experiences. This will be non-assessed. Levels of understanding will be continually reviewed through seminar participation.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Assessment requirements for a pass:


Reassessment arrangements:

Resubmission of coursework in September.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 10 April 2019


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