The Higher Education Academy, History, Classics and Archaeology

Subject Centre for History,
Classics and Archaeology


    Better The Devil You Know: Role Play as a Tool in Teaching Site Management in Maritime Archaeology


    Status: complete

    Funding Initiative: Development Projects



    Round 5 Teaching Development Grant

    The project, run across the academic year 2006-07, developed a package of role-play materials on site management in maritime archaeology. A set of 'trading cards' describing the character attributes of stakeholders involved in the management of eight fictionalised case-studies of maritime archaeological sites in Britain were produced, together with supporting handbooks for students and staff. These materials were used to assist the teaching of postgraduate maritime archaeology students studying towards the one-year UCL Institute of Archaeology MA in Maritime Archaeology. The role-play was designed to help familiarise students with the types of sites and stakeholders in maritime archaeology, the peculiar legislative circumstances of British maritime archaeology, and the various options that exist for the management of such sites.

    Aims and Objectives
    The immediate project aims were:

    * To create a series of case-studies, inspired by real-world examples, of the possible management options on maritime archaeological sites, particularly those discovered, managed or investigated as a result of commercial activities such as fishing, dredging, aggregates or hydrocarbon extraction.

    * To package these case-studies in the form of user-friendly 'trading cards' (plus supporting documentation) describing the various stakeholders involved in these archaeological sites, allowing a role-play exploration of the different management strategies that exist for the exploration, interpretation and development of these sites.

    * To develop guidelines and templates for the use of such role-play scenarios and material suitable for public dissemination and modification by other types of archaeology.

    The wider objectives were:

    * To highlight the types of maritime archaeological sites currently being discovered in Britain, above, across and below water, the threats to such sites, the communities and individuals involved, the different futures of such sites and the need to reach compromise solutions to their management.

    * To highlight the different management (including legislative) strategies that can be deployed on archaeological sites, and also the current discrepancies in management between 'terrestrial' and 'maritime' archaeological sites.

    * To demonstrate the use and benefits of 'active learning' strategies such as role-play in postgraduate, vocationally-led archaeology programmes.

    Areas of teaching and learning developed included curriculum development (creating a range of materials suitable for teaching 'commercial' aspects of maritime archaeology, a type of material not currently available), transferable skills (developing student familiarity with preparing a case for public presentation, debate and conflict resolution), employability (introducing students to the types of sites, stakeholders and management issues that they will be confronted with if employed as commercial maritime archaeologists), group-work, and reflection (encourage students to empathise with the different roles they play, and thus the different stakeholders involved in managing the archaeological resource).

    The project also provided a venue for the project leader to explore alternative approaches to assessment: the project developed teaching materials that could be used as part of the formal assessment criteria of a course through assessment of written reports on the findings of each scenario and the outcome and broader implications of each case-study. Due to various logistical constraints (discussed below), this assessment did not take place during the course of the project.



    Joseph Flatman

    Organisations / Institutions

    University College London


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    The Subject Centre for History, Classics and Archaeology, School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, Hartley Building, Brownlow Street, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 3GS, telephone +44 (0) 151 795 0343, Email: