• Class Number 2010
  • Term Code 3130
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 12 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Philip Piper
    • Dougald O'Reilly
    • Prof Philip Piper
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/02/2021
  • Class End Date 28/05/2021
  • Census Date 31/03/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/03/2021
SELT Survey Results

This core course introduces students to the range of archaeological science methods and techniques which one can expect to use in field- and laboratory-based archaeological research and heritage management projects, evaluated within an explicitly archaeological methodology. A background in the history of the field will first be given, and the theoretical debates concerning the role of archaeological science within the wider field of archaeology will be discussed. Various sub-disciplines within archaeological science will be introduced. Field trips and/or practical study will also be an integral aspect of this course.

Where field trips or practical study involves travel outside of Canberra (including to other parts of the ACT), students will only be permitted to undertake this travel upon completion of ANU required documentation and the approval of all documentation by the relevant delegate.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. explain and critique the relationships between environmental sciences, archaeology and historical and social disciplines ;
  2. apply basic principles derived from physical sciences in natural systems to archaeological research design and data interpretation ;
  3. understand the research context of key developments in archaeological science as a discipline ;
  4. plan and design materials from research investigations for public dissemination and/or for conference poster presentation ; and
  5. explain basic field contextual analysis and assessment of archaeological sites within holistic frameworks bridging biological, chemical and physical sciences, and archaeology.

Research-Led Teaching

The course focuses on independent learning and integrates contemporary archaeological science research into class learning. Students are expected to research contemporary research themes as the foundation of their presentations.

Field Trips

The ARCH8032 program has a practical component and assessment. The second part is based around the excavation of a trench in the on-campus training facility at the School of Archaeology and Anthropology. The fieldwork will be undertaken in semester 1 break, from Tuesday 5th April – Friday 16th April. Each group will participate for 5 days of practical experience in excavation and recording of archaeological deposits, features and material culture. The assessment will be based on the completion of context records, stratigraphic drawing and excavation and interpretation skills. A short report (1000 words) on the excavation strategy, results and outcomes.

Brothwell, D.R. and Pollard, A.M. (Eds.) 2008. Handbook of Archaeological Sciences: Chicester: Wiley and Sons Ltd.

Evans, J. and O’Connor, T. 1999. Environmental archaeology: Principles and Methods, Stroud: Sutton Publishing Ltd.

Lowe, J.J. and Walker, M.J.C. 1984. Reconstructing Quaternary environments, Edinburgh Gate: Longman Ltd.

Goldberg, P. and Macphail, R.I. 2006. Practical and theoretical geoarchaeology, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Matisoo-Smith, E. and Horsburgh, K.A. 2012. DNA for archaeologists, Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.

O’Connor, T. 2000. The archaeology of animal bones, Stroud: Sutton Publishing Ltd.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments and feedback will be provided for presentations and discussions through arranged ZOOM meetings. Verbal feedback can be provided for any other piece of course work on request.
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction to Archaeological Science
2 Archaeological Excavation and Sampling Student Presentation and Discussion
3 Introduction to Bioarchaeology Student Presentation and Discussion
4 Introduction to Zooarchaeology Student Presentation and Discussion
5 Introduction to Geoarchaeology Student Presentation and Discussion
6 Introduction to Chronometric Dating Student Presentation and Discussion
7 Human Evolution Student Presentation and Discussion
8 Introduction to Archaeomalacology Student Presentation and Discussion
9 Isotopes in Archaeology Student Presentation and Discussion
10 Archaeobotany (Plant macrofossils) Student Presentation and Discussion
11 Introduction to Invertebrates in Archaeology Student Presentation and Discussion

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Philip John Piper 20 % * * 1,2,3,4,5
Short Report and Analysis 20 % 31/03/2021 18/04/2021 3,5
Archaeochemistry Essay 30 % 11/06/2021 25/06/2021 1,2,3,4
Project proposal and practical fieldwork 30 % 04/06/2021 25/06/2021 1,2,5,6

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


All those students in Canberra and expected to complete the practical component at the archaeological training facility in the old greenhouse adjacent to Banks Bldg#44.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Philip John Piper

One or two students will provide presentations each week focusing on that week's archaeological science topic. The topics and research questions will be provided to those individuals that will present, the week before presentation date. You should aim to have a maximum of 15 slides (excluding title slide and reference slide at the end). I anticipate c. 20 references would be consulted for the talk - including the readings set for that week. Remember: you are expected to provide a number of questions at the end of your presentation related to the topic. This will lead the group discussion.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 31/03/2021
Return of Assessment: 18/04/2021
Learning Outcomes: 3,5

Short Report and Analysis

The outcomes of a considerable amount of zooarchaeological data is illustrated and presented in graphic form. It requires an understanding of the numerical data and how this is best presented and interpreted. The student will be provided with some background information on an archaeological site, and some zooarchaeological data. They will be expected to graphically present the data in an understandable format and provide a basic interpretation (within 500 words) of what the data might be informing about the zooarchaeological record.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 11/06/2021
Return of Assessment: 25/06/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Archaeochemistry Essay

An archaeological and evolutionary science topic that is not covered in detail in the course is archaeochemistry (with the exception of isotopes). Archaeochemistry covers a diverse range of topics, any of which you can choose to be the main theme of your essay. Expect c. 15 references, around 3000 words of text - use of figures and tables recommended to augment points.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 04/06/2021
Return of Assessment: 25/06/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,5,6

Project proposal and practical fieldwork

This task is split into two parts: it is in part based on the lecture Topic 1 ‘Archaeological Excavation and Sampling’, and the practical field work component of the course. This lecture and assessment is designed to provide you with an introductory background in methods of excavation, recording and sampling applied during archaeological fieldwork.The first part of the assessment you will be expected to produce a short project proposal to excavate, sample and analyse the recovered materials from a real archaeological site located in central Vietnam. The Project Design should be approximately 1500 words in length and consist of an Introduction, Aims and Objectives, (brief) Archaeological Background, Methodology and proposed likely Outcomes of the research project. The second part is based around the excavation of a trench in the on-campus training facility at the School of Archaeology and Anthropology. The fieldwork will be undertaken in semester 1 break, from Tuesday 5th April – Friday 16th April. The assessment will be based on the completion of context records, stratigraphic drawing and excavation and interpretation skills. A short report (1000 words) on the excavation strategy, results and outcomes.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin for all pieces of work, except the presentations and discussions in Assessment 1.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Every effort will be made to return assignments with comments and feedback as soon as possible after completion.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Prof Philip Piper

Research Interests

Southeast Asian Prehistory, Human economic behaviour, Palaeoecology, Zooarchaeology

Prof Philip Piper

By Appointment
Dougald O'Reilly

Research Interests

Dougald O'Reilly

Prof Philip Piper

Research Interests

Prof Philip Piper

By Appointment

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