Archaeological Survey and Geomatics

Module code: AR2028

Module co-ordinator: Dr Mark Gillings

  • Why is accurate surveying critical to archaeological fieldwork?
  • What is geomatics?
  • What are the key surveying techniques used by archaeologists and what types of data do they yield?
  • How do we apply these techniques in practice?
  • How do we select and apply the appropriate survey techniques, in a problem-oriented fashion, in the context of an on-going archaeological research project?

In this module we will look at the main surveying techniques in current use within archaeology. Through a combination of detailed lectures and regular practical sessions, we will explore the full range of techniques, from tapes and compasses, total-stations, GPS, through to 3D laser scanning and digital photogrammetry wi- together with their application in archaeology.

Practical work is an important part of this module, with regular practical sessions and a dedicated survey day when you can apply the techniques you have learnedto the primary recording of archaeological landscape features.  

Topics covered

  • Geomatics
  • Use of distance and angle measurements
  • Basic techniques for measuring, recording and plotting elevation
  • Total station survey
  • 3D laser scanning and structure-from-motion
  • Global positioning systems (GPS)


  • 12 hours of lecture/lab-based sessions
  • 9 hours of field-based practical work
  • 7 hours of original fieldwork


  • essay, 2,500 words (40%)
  • project, 2,000 words and survey drawings (60%)