ARCH07039 2019 Geophysical Surveying and Processing Practical

General Details

Full Title
Geophysical Surveying and Processing Practical
Transcript Title
Geophysical Surveying and Proc
70 %
Subject Area
ARCH - Archaeology
ESCI - Environmental Science
07 - NFQ Level 7
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2019 - Full Academic Year 2019-20
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
James Bonsall
Programme Membership
SG_SAPPL_H08 201900 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Applied Archaeology SG_SAPPL_B07 201900 Bachelor of Science in Applied Archaeology SG_SAPPL_J07 201900 Level 7 Add-on Award in Applied Archaeology

This module focuses exclusively on the students ability to plan, execute and report on an archaeological geophysical survey, in compliance with best practice guidelines and national legislation. Students are expected to work in groups to deliver all Coursework Assessments. Students will be given in-depth practical tuition and experience in the use of archaeological geophysical equipment and techniques in the field in addition to practice using various computer software packages in the processing of geophysical data and its integration with other forms of information. Students will be expected to carry out a geophysical survey in Ireland within their own peer-group.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Demonstrate the skills necessary to plan, execute and report a geophysical survey over an archaeological site.


Establish a geophysical survey grid. 


Operate a range of different geophysical field equipment safely and competently and comply with best practice in the field. 


Use dedicated software to download, edit and process simple geophysical data.


Construct simple maps of geophysical information and present geophysical results in a format that can be interpreted. 

Integrate knowledge and skills from various types of archaeological analysis in the evaluation and interpretation of geophysical data.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Students will be expected to plan a geophysical survey of an archaeological site, submit an Application for a Detection Licence to the Archaeological Licensing Section of the National Monuments Service, and, if granted, abide by the legal constraints imposed on them by that licence, including submission of a geophysical report.

Students will be taught how to write a report, collect data in the field and process that data, as well as interpret it and create maps using GIS software, using best practice guidance. Students will also learn how to archive their data.

Module Assessment Strategies

One large ongoing assessment. Students will be assessed on:

Detection Licence application and Method Statement (feedback given before submission to State authorities)

Group work for Practical Exercises

Organisation and implementation of Geophysical Survey

Written Report (feedback given before submission to State authorities)

Group Presentation, either as Powerpoint or Video

Data Archive

Repeat Assessments

Standard procedures apply.

Module Dependencies

ARCH06038 201900 Geophysical Surveying and Processing (Theory) ENVR06041 201900 Earth Science ARCH06028 201900 Archaeology of Ireland ARCH07033 201300 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Archaeologists ARCH06037 201900 Archaeological Surveying

Indicative Syllabus

  • Irish Legislation: Detection Licences, Trespass, Health and Safety
  • Integrated survey methodology - Establish a geophysical survey grid
  • Demonstration and Field Work: Magnetometry survey
  • Demonstration and Field Work: Earth resistance survey
  • Demonstration and Field Work: GPR Survey
  • Demonstration and Field Work: Magnetic Susceptibility
  • Writing a Geophysical Report
  • Data processing and image enhancement of geophysical results using appropriate software
  • Integrated geophysical surveys for archaeological assessment
  • Group Field work exercise at a suitable site
  • Introduction to Surfer
  • Integration of geophysical results with other archaeological/map data using Surfer
  • How to Archive Data

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
100 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Portfolio of exercises: Licence Application, Field work, field log books, group field project, Geophysical Report, Final Presentation or Video Continuous Assessment Group Project 100 % OnGoing 1,2,3,4,5,6

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Laboratory Practical Computer Laboratory Laboratory Practical 3 Weekly 3.00
Independent Learning UNKNOWN Self study 4 Weekly 4.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 3.00 Hours

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources

Aspinall, A., Gaffney, C. & Schmidt, A. 2008. Magnetometry for Archaeologists. Lanham: AltaMira Press 

Bonsall, J., Gaffney, C., Armit, I. 2015. ‘You know it’s summer in Ireland when the rain gets warmer: Analysing repetitive timelapse earth resistance data to determine ‘optimal’ survey climate conditions’. Archaeologia Polona, Volume 53, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, pp623-644. 

Bonsall, J., Gaffney, C. and Armit, I. 2014. A Decade of Ground Truthing: Reappraising Magnetometer Prospection Surveys on Linear Corridors in light of Excavation evidence 2001-2010. In H. Kamermans, M. Gojda and A.G. Posluschny (eds). A Sense of the Past: Studies in current archaeological applications of remote sensing and non-invasive prospection methods. BAR International Series 2588. Oxford, Archaeopress, pp3-17. 

Bonsall, J, Gaffney, C & Armit, I. 2014. Preparing for the Future: A reappraisal of archaeo-geophysical surveying on Irish National Road Schemes 2001-2010. Report for the National Roads Authority. 

Boschi, F. 2016. Looking to the Future, Caring for the Past: Preventive Archaeology in Theory and Practice. Bononia University Press. Bologna, pp41-58. 

Campana S. and Piro S. 2009.Seeing the unseen – Geophysics and landscape archaeology. CRC Press, London 

Clark, A. 1990. Seeing Beneath the Soil. Routledge 

Conyers, L. B. 2004. Ground-Penetrating Radar for Archaeology. AltaMira Press, Plymouth 

Conyers, L. B. 2012. Interpreting Ground-Penetrating Radar for Archaeology. AltaMira Press, Plymouth 

Gaffney, C. & Gater, J. 2003. Revealing the Buried Past: Geophysics for Archaeologists. Tempus. 

Marshall, A. (1998), Visualising burnt areas: patterns of magnetic susceptibility at Guiting Power 1 round barrow (Glos., UK). Archaeological Prospection, 5: 159–177.doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-0763(199809)5:3<159::AID-ARP104>3.0.CO;2-D 

Marshall, A. (1999), Magnetic prospection at high resolution: survey of large silo-pits in Iron Age enclosures. Archaeological Prospection, 6: 11–29. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-0763(199903)6:1<11::AID-ARP110>3.0.CO;2-V 

Marshall, A. (2001), Functional analysis of settlement areas: prospection over a defended enclosure of iron age date at The Bowsings, Guiting Power, Gloucestershire, UK. Archaeological Prospection, 8: 79–106. doi:10.1002/1099-0763(200106)8:2<79::AID-ARP150>3.0.CO;2-W 

Schmidt, A. & Ernenwein, E. 2013. Geophysical Data in Archaeology - A Guide to Good Practice. Oxbow Books. 

Schmidt, A., Linford, P., Linford, N. David, A., Gaffney, C., Sarris, A. and Fassbinder, J. 2016. Guidelines for the use of geophysics in archaeology. Questions to Ask and Points to Consider. EAC Guidelines 2. ‚Äč  

Schmidt, A. 2013. Earth Resistance for Archaeologists. AltaMira Press, Plymouth 

Surfer® V. 10 User's Guide, Golden Software

Journal Resources

Archaeological Prospection

Journal of Archaeological Science

URL Resources
Other Resources


Additional Information