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Last modified: 28 Jun 2018 10:27

Course Overview

This course is compulsory for the BSc Archaeology and all of the joint BSc archaeology programmes (BSc in Archaeology with Chemistry, the BSc in Archaeology-Geoscience and the BSc in Archaeology-Geography). This course is appropriate for Geography, Geology and soil science students as well as more humanities-based students taking the single or joint honours Archaeology programmes.

Please note that students will be asked to make a nominal contribution towards the cost of the field trip.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Old Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Karen Milek

Qualification Prerequisites


What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • Either Programme Level 3 or Programme Level 4

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • AY3018 Geoarchaeology: Approaches to Past Human-Environmental Interactions Dl (Studied)
  • AY4006 Geoarchaeology: Approaches to Past Human-Environment Interactions (Studied)
  • KL305M Geoarchaeology: Approaches to Past Human-Environmental Interactions (Studied)
  • KL4056 Geoarchaeology: Approaches to Past Human Environmental Interactions (Studied)

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the field of geoarchaeology, giving an overview of how the earth sciences are making contributions to archaeological research around the world and in all time periods, from the beginnings of human history to the present day. The course will give you: an overview of the emergence of geoarchaeology as a scientific discipline and the current role of geoarchaeology in professional archaeological practice; a critical appreciation of how mainstream archaeological field work and the interpretation of archaeological sites can be enhanced through a better understanding of natural and cultural sedimentary and soil formation processes; foundational knowledge about the composition and formation processes of natural and human-made soils and sediments; a detailed knowledge of how soil and sediment characteristics affect the preservation of artefacts and organic remains on archaeological sites, and the field and laboratory methods that can be used to determine the preservation conditions on sites; an appreciation for how earth science techniques contribute to the reconstruction of past human environments and how past land use has impacted these environments; an understanding of how earth science techniques can contribute to the understanding of the spatial organisation of activity areas on archaeological sites, including the use of space in buildings; practical skills in how to describe, test, and sample archaeological soils and sediment in the field in such a way as to provide as much useful information as is possible for the interpretation of the content, origin, and post-depositional alteration of archaeological deposits; an overview of a wide range of laboratory techniques that can be applied to the analysis of archaeological soils and sediments in order to enhance the interpretation of the materials they are composed of, how they formed, the rate at which they formed, and how their physical characteristics might have changed over time; a springboard for further specialisation or a dissertation in geoarchaeology, if this is of interest to you.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: One 2-hour written examination (50%) and fieldwork & lab work portfolio (50%).

Resit: Marks from continuous assessment to be carried forward (50%); re-sit exam (50%).

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment of essay/project proposals and outlines.


Detailed essay feedback forms; oral feedback during labs and field trips.

Course Learning Outcomes


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