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Advanced topics in archaeological theory and methods PHD801

The course will introduce the students to different current theories and methods used in archaeological research, with a particular focus on the implementation of methods in archaeological research. Archaeological research is frequently interdisciplinary and consequently draws upon a wide range of methods, sometimes from other academic fields. Choice of methodological approaches is frequently bound up with a topic and notably the theoretical framework, and the course addresses which methods are suitable in given theoretical frameworks. Particular focus will be given to theories and methods that deal with the material turn, the ontological turn, the science turn, and general epistemological considerations.

Course description for study year 2021-2022. Please note that changes may occur.





Vekting (SP)


Semester undervisningsstart

Spring, Autumn

Antall semestre





English, Norwegian

Tilbys av

Faculty of Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences

Learning outcome


After completing the course the students should:

  • Have an advanced understanding of the current theories used in archaeological research


After completing the course the students should:

  • Have an advanced understanding of the implementation of appropriate methods considering the theoretical approach
  • Evaluate which theories and methods that are applicable on different archaeological datasets
  • Be able to formulate new research questions that integrate a theoretical understanding with a methodological implementation
  • Be able to formulate a theoretical platform that integrates methods and datasets in an appropriate way and to an international standard
  • Be able to create an operational theoretical framework that encompasses appropriate methodology

General competence

After completing the course the students should:

  • Understand how research is situated within a research field in archaeology and the ramification that the different fields operate within.
  • Be able to identify the underpinnings and scientific traditions of theories and methods.
  • Be able to engage in academic discourse on advanced theory and methodology within archaeology, both orally and in writing.

The course is designed to provide an overview of current theories and methods in archaeological research and will give the students an advanced understanding of how theoretical frameworks and methodology are implemented in research projects.

Although the course will focus on current theory, the overall aim is to give them a practical understanding of how theory and methodology together play into theoretical research design.

The underpinnings of the theoretical approach and methodologies will be examined to give the students knowledge of the traditions that theories and methods stem from, as well as their epistemological anchoring in either the humanities, natural science or social sciences.

The teachers will present research literature that covers the main topics and

The course covers topics such as:

  • The material turn
  • The ontological turn
  • Actor-network theory and châine operatoire
  • Personhood
  • The biographical perspective
  • Feminist critique
  • Sensory archaeology
Required prerequisite knowledge
Participants must be enrolled in a PhD programme.
Eksamen / vurdering
Vurderingsform Vekting Varighet Karakter Hjelpemiddel
Term paper 1/1 Pass - Fail

Course teacher(s)
Course coordinator: Astrid Johanne Nyland
Method of work

A combination of lectures, articles presented by teachers and students and classroom discussions.

Coursework requirements

Students need to attend a one-week on-campus study programme. Presence is mandatory (MP). Mandatory requirements: 75% presence. If students do not fulfil the MP requirement, students will have to pass an assignment given by the course coordinators in order to take the course exam.

Open for
The course is open to interested PhD candidates at the University of Stavanger and other universities. Single Course Admission to PhD-Courses.
Course assessment
Student evaluation will be conducted according to the regulations set forth by the Faculty of Social Sciences.
The syllabus can be found in Leganto