Trainee Supervisor Course 2017

Trainee supervisor course for archaeology students experienced in field work. Selected on merit, students will gain hands-on experience of managing an excavation.

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We are now accepting applications for our Trainee Supervisor Course 2017. This is an advanced course designed for those with past Field School experience.


If you have been accepted onto one of our Trainee Supervisor courses and need to make payment, please proceed to the relevant payment option in our Online Shop.


For the eleventh year the Achill Field School is once again offering the very popular Trainee Supervisor Course which provides a second tier of training for former students of the Field School and for students who have completed at least one field school elsewhere. This is an exciting course open to students who plan to make a career in archaeology. In 2017 we are offering two eight week Trainee Supervisor Courses running from 8 May to 30 June (Session 1), and 3 July to 25 August (Session 2). Each course costs €3,995 all inclusive, with the option of a deferred payment plan.

The procedure for being accepted on the Trainee Supervisor Course is different from the application procedures for our other courses. Typically we tend to recruit our Trainee Supervisors from students that have previously attended the field school here. This means that we will have an extensive knowledge of their skill capabilities on-site, how good they are at following instructions, how committed to the work they are, and how well they get along with other students. On occasion we accept Trainee Supervisors that have been trained elsewhere and have not previously been to the AFS. Generally this has worked out well, although once or twice we have ended up accepting students that weren’t really suitable, and that is something we are keen to avoid happening again. External applicants therefore will need to follow the application procedure listed below, at the end of which we can make a joint decision about whether accepting them would be appropriate.

So as a first stage we would like to receive a CV from you that covers the following points:

  • Previous Experience. A Trainee Supervisor really needs to have a decent grasp of the basic excavation procedures. The basic archaeological skills are adaptable and we can get you up to speed very quickly if you have a good background in excavation techniques. What we are looking for is a good understanding of the universal excavation techniques, perhaps most importantly a firm grasp of planning, section and profile drawing and preparing context sheets.
  • Work Ethic. This position involves a lot of hard work. Whilst the students work an 8 hour day, during different parts of the excavation the Trainee Supervisors, the Senior Supervisor and myself will be working late into the night and even during the weekends. This out of hours work will be undertaken in a really friendly atmosphere and we will have a lot of fun doing it, but when the time comes to start putting in some long hours we will really need you to be there. Similarly on site, you will be expected to lead by example. The students need to be kept energised and happy, even when the weather is poor or the work is hard going. If you are some one who suffers from low energy levels or can’t fake a cheery disposition when you’re not really feeling up to it then it will be hard for you to do this role. The students will take a lot of their lead from you, and we will be relying on you to always be in good form.
  • Amiability. To supervise any group of people you need to have a personality that binds people to you, or you need to develop a persona that allows you to do so. The Trainee Supervisors are at the very heart of the student groups so we need someone who is confident and likeable. A big part of the course is learning how to manage team dynamics, and we can help you learn different ways of doing that, but we can only work with what is there to begin with. If you are shy, or uncommunicative, or nervous, this may not be the right course for you.

For returning students, this course is designed to offer a deeper level of training for those who excelled when they attended Achill Field School’s 4-6 week modules. Therefore this course is offered to those students who demonstrated a combination of skills including intuitive understanding of archaeological procedures, good work ethic, the ability to listen to and understand instruction, and with the right temperament to become Site Supervisors. Are you one of those students?

The Trainee Supervisor Course is a unique learning experience which builds on the skills gained in the previous year. Candidates are therefore selected on merit and/or when they have demonstrated a good understanding of the basic principals of excavation. The field school programme has been re-organised and the schedule for 2017 reflects an even more structured approach to all aspects of Fieldwork.

Responsibilities and Training:

The Trainee Supervisors will be responsible for a particular area of the excavation and work with the director to ensure that the area is correctly excavated and recorded. The Trainee Supervisor will lead a team of students through the process of excavation, and be responsible for maintaining discipline, providing training to the students in the basic skills of excavation, and compiling the site archive for their area of the site. Each area will be a new excavation, and so the Trainee Supervisor will oversee the entire process of the excavation from laying out the trench and removing the sod, through to the completion of the excavation. The Trainee Supervisor will then be instructed in the basic post excavation procedures, learning how to prepare the written and drawn records to be placed into a permanent archive, how to write a stratigraphic report and digitise plans in AutoCAD, ArcGIS and convert some into Photoshop.

At the end of the course the Trainee Supervisor will have compiled a complete report of their on-site area to full publication standard. When the report is published each Trainee Supervisor will be named as the co-author of the section of the report covering their particular area. This level of training leading to a full, peer reviewed, publication credit is simply unavailable elsewhere, and would provide a major advantage to the Trainee Supervisor during future job applications or applications for post-graduate study.

Applications for the 2017 Trainee Archaeological Supervisor Course are open. 

To apply please email our Director of Fieldwork eve@achill-fieldschool.com