ARCH20600 Archaeological Science

Academic Year 2024/2025

Archaeology is a subject that makes use of techniques and approaches from many other disciplines. In recent years, developments in Science have opened up exciting possibilities and allowed us to approach questions that even a few years ago would have seemed impossible. As an archaeologist, understanding and applying these approaches is an increasingly important part of the discipline. Archaeological Science is a wide topic that would be impossible to cover in all of its details in a single 5-credit module. Consequently, the module provides a broad overview of approaches and a more detailed look at how some of these are applied through targeted case studies and themes. These are chosen to show the way in which scientific methods and thinking can add to our understanding of the past. Even if you have no scientific background, you will learn how to appreciate a scientific way of thinking and how it applies to archaeology. The module will also help you to confidently read and critique publications and media that rely on scientific research.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

- Develop a critical understanding of the role of archaeological science
- Appreciate what it means to think scientifically
- Gain a critical understanding of the application of scientific techniques within the context of archaeology and heritage
- Gain a practical understanding of how some scientific methods are applied to archaeological problems
- Be able to confidently read archaeological science publications and understand the implications of the research

Indicative Module Content:

What is archaeological science?
Anatomy of a scientific paper
Human remains
Dental calculus
Geoarchaeology & Soil science
Organic residue analysis

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Teaching and Learning:
This module uses a combination of online materials, case studies and class-based sessions.

You may choose to use generative AI (Artificial Intelligence) to find, learn about and understand suitable resources (i.e. for background research). You must avoid AI for writing of assessments.
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Individual Project: Project: Illustrated review of the application of a scientific analysis in archaeology (1000 words) Week 7 Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Assignment(Including Essay): Essay: Critical review of the application of a scientific technique to an archaeological problem (2500 words) Week 15 Standard conversion grade scale 40% No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

UCD School of Archaeology use standard feedback sheets for all modules. Your feedback is provided on this form. The form also contains feed-forward details, which will help you think about how you would improve your approach in future assignments.

Name Role
Dr Jess Beck Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Helen Lewis Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Meriel McClatchie Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Robert Power Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Jessica Smyth Lecturer / Co-Lecturer