An archaeological field evaluation will determine, as far as is reasonably possible, the nature of the archaeological resource within a specified area using appropriate methods and practices. These will satisfy the stated aims of the project, and comply with the Code of conduct, Code of approved practice for the regulation of contractual arrangements in field archaeology, and other relevant by-laws of the IFA. 

The definition of archaeological field evaluation is a limited programme of non-intrusive and/or intrusive fieldwork which determines of the presence or absence of archaeological features, structures, deposits, artefacts or ecofacts within a specified area or site on land, inter-tidal zone or underwater. If such archaeological remains are present field evaluation defines their character, extent, quality and preservation, and enables an assessment of their worth in a local, regional, national or international context as appropriate. 

The purpose of field evaluation is to gain information about the archaeological resource within a given area or site (including presence or absence, character, extent, date, integrity, state of preservation and quality), in order to make an assessment of its merit in the appropriate context, leading to one or more of the following:
* the formulation of a strategy to ensure the recording, preservation or management of the resource; 
* the formulation of a strategy to initiate a threat to the archaeological resource
* the formulation of a proposal for further archaeological investigation within a programme of research.

A field evaluation may arise:
* in response to a proposed development which threatens the archaeological resource
    ·as part of the planning process (within the framework of appropriate national planning policy guidance notes and/or development plan policy)
    ·as part of an Environmental Assessment (EA) (see 3.1.7 below)

* outside the planning process (eg ecclesiastical development, coastal erosion, agriculture, forestry and countryside management, works by public utilities and statutory undertakers)
* within a programme of research not generated by a specific threat to the archaeological resource
* in connection with the preparation of management plans by private, local or national bodies.

An archaeological field evaluation may therefore be instigated or commissioned by a number of different individuals or organisations, including local planning authorities, national advisory bodies, government agencies, private landowners, developers or their agents, archaeological researchers, etc.