CAA Seminar: Contract archaeology and academic research

Start: Oct 17, 2014 05:30 PM

Location: Room 612, UCL Institute of Archaeology

CAA Seminar: Contract archaeology and academic research

The opening seminar in the new Centre for Applied Archaeology (CAA) Seminar Series on 'The value of commercial archaeology' will take place at the Institute on 17 October.

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is home to one of the UK’s largest commercial units - Archaeology South-East (ASE), the contracts division of the Centre for Applied Archaeology.

Academic and contract archaeologists have different visions of the nature and purpose of archaeological practice, arising from different value-systems and drivers that reflect on the varying needs of diverse customers and audiences. This represents an important challenge for the Institute in the way in which it develops the professional activities of ASE alongside the teaching and research activities of a University department.

This seminar series will explore ways in which contract archaeology works within an academic environment, whilst looking to find new and mutual benefits to the relationship. How do we foster better dialogue between the worlds of academia and professional practice, recognising the positive contribution that each can make to the work of the other? How can our involvement in commercial archaeology deliver better research, teaching and training? How can we exploit contract opportunities to develop innovative practice, expand on the social benefits of community and industry based fieldwork, and push forward the frontiers of our discipline? How can we find and demonstrate public benefit in our work?

Seminar 1: Contract archaeology and academic research



  • Dominic Perring: Crossing the academic/commercial divide
  • Sue Hamilton: Why the Institute of Archaeology has a field unit
  • Pip Stephenson & Jim Stevenson: Medmerry, a current case-study in making contract opportunities meet research objectives
  • Joe Flatman: State, market and academia – some different perspectives on the place of research in archaeological work

Discussion topics: 

  • What contribution is commercial archaeology making to creating knowledge?
  • How can we better use this work to advance understanding, and in turn drive practice into new areas?
  • What should be done to improve the research output of ASE staff, and how do we involve IoA staff and students in developing research proposals?
  • What scope is there to join forces in developing research initiatives that draw on, and ultimately enhance, both academic and contract work?
  • How do we make sure that the research results of contract archaeology are incorporated into what is taught, integrating real, up-to-date, and significant results into the syntheses and texts used for teaching?
  • How do we make our research relevant and valuable to diverse clients and communities?
  • What big questions should we be asking of the landscapes where we work?

A wine reception will be held at the conclusion of each seminar, encouraging further discussion.

Any enquiries about the seminar series may be directed to Dominic Perring.

CAA Seminar Series on The value of commercial archaeology

CAA Seminar Series Programme 2014-15

The value of commercial archaeology