Short Course in Radiocarbon Dating and Bayesian Chronological Analysis


This course is aimed at researchers using radiocarbon and other techniques, including Quaternary geologists, palaeobiologists, archaeologists and marine geoscientists. The first two days of the course will cover key aspects of radiocarbon dating including sample selection, laboratory processes and Bayesian analyses of radiocarbon dates. Various aspects relating to the production and interpretation of radiocarbon dating will be taught by members of the NERC Radiocarbon Facility, based at both Oxford and East Kilbride. This course aims to become a core component of practical radiocarbon training in the UK.

The third day of the course will expand on this to look at the construction of Bayesian chronologies  more generally, including those that rely primarily on other dating techniques. In this third day there will be a focus on using chronologies for environmental records. This day of the course will be suitable for those participating in the INTIMATE (Integrating ice core, marine and terrestrial records) initiative.

The programme has been formulated to introduce radiocarbon dating and other chronometric techniques to participants by exploring – through lectures, tours and tutorials – the key issues essential to the construction of reliable chronologies. This course has been developed by the NERC Radiocarbon Facility, which is NERC and AHRC funded and consists of the science-based archaeology node at Oxford (Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit: ORAU) and the environment node at East Kilbride (Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre: SUERC), and as part of the University of Oxford NERC Doctoral Training Partnership.

For those attending in person, bed and breakfast accommodation, sandwich lunches and dinners are available to book as optional extras and are provided by Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA. Rewley House is approximately 15 minutes walk from the course location.

Programme details


Day One: Introduction to Radiocarbon Dating

8.30am Registration

9.00am Introduction      

Archaeological projects 

Environmental projects

---- tea/coffee ----

What can go wrong in radiocarbon dating

Sediment, soil, reduced carbon, carbonates & waters

Introduction to calibration

---- lunch ----

Hands on calibration workshop

Radiocarbon as a tracer

---- tea/coffee ----

AMS radiocarbon measurement

Case study: Using radiocarbon to study the Carbon Cycle

5.00pm Course ends for the day

7.00pm Dinner at Rewley House (optional)



Day Two: Radiocarbon applications, calibration and Bayesian analysis

9.00am Organic samples – wood, plants, bone

Compound specific dating           

Stable isotopes 

---- tea/coffee ----

Reservoirs and reservoir correction         

Dealing with reservoir offsets in humans

Hands on – reservoir effects/own data

---- lunch ----

Bayesian age modelling

Simple age models

Hands on – Bayesian model building

---- tea/coffee ----

Example case study

5.00pm Course ends for the day

7.00pm Dinner at Rewley House (optional)



Day Three: Bayesian analysis and the environment

9.00am Introduction to age-depth modelling

Calibrating sediment sequences

Hands on – age-depth modelling

Lab tour – sampling and pre-treatment

Lab tour – stable isotopes and graphitisation

Lab tour – AMS measurement

Please note: lab tour for in-person attendees only

---- lunch ----

Using different dating methods

Case study: Suigetsu


---- tea/coffee ----

Hands on – advanced techniques & own data

5.00pm Course ends


Description Costs
Tuition: in-person attendance (3 days) £520.00
Tuition: virtual attendance (3 days) £520.00
Accommodation: Single B&B (2 nights) £202.80
Dinner Monday night at Rewley House £26.00
Dinner Tuesday night at Rewley House £26.00
Packed Lunch Monday £9.00
Packed Lunch Tuesday £9.00
Packed Lunch Wednesday £9.00


Payment of fees must be made in full at the time of booking.

Please note that businesses and organisations can be invoiced on provision of a Purchase Order and completed application form. These can be emailed to the CWHE Programme Administrator, email:

If you would like to attend part of the course, but not all, please email: and we can arrange the booking for you (subject to availability).

Day 1 is a general introduction to radiocarbon dating

Days 1 and 2 will be relevant for archaeologists wishing to do Bayesian analysis

Days 2 and 3 are suitable for people interested in Bayesian analysis, who already have a working knowledge of radiocarbon dating

Day 3 is suitable for environmental scientists doing age-depth models and similar


Professor Christopher Ramsey

Course Director

School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, Author of Oxcal


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact to obtain an application form. Enrolments will close 2 weeks before course start date.


Accommodation for this three-day course is at Rewley House for Monday and Tuesday nights only. If you would like to book a double or twin room, please contact us via email (

Depending on availability it may also be possible to extend your stay; please enquire at the time of booking for availability and prices.

All bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.

IT requirements

You can opt to attend this hybrid teaching event either online (via a livestream) or in person at the Department of Earth Sciences. You will be given the option of how you wish to attend during the enrolment process. You can only pick one option. If your preferred attendance format is fully booked, you can email us to be put on the waiting list.

For those joining us online

If you wish to join the course online for the hybrid sessions only you will be offered the option to select this when you book. The hybrid sessions will be live streamed using Zoom and you will be sent a link to join the course. The course will be accessible online 15 minutes before the start time and we encourage all participants to join in good time.

Please note that this course will not be recorded.