Competence matrix performance criteria (MCIfA)

To be eligible for professional accreditation at Member (MCIfA) grade, you need to be able to demonstrate the appropriate level of competence in four areas:

  • knowledge
  • autonomy
  • coping with complexity
  • perception of professional context


1) Demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of your area of historic environment practice using appropriate professional and technical language.

For example

  • Give examples which demonstrate that you understand and apply the legislation, polices, frameworks, strategies, professional standards, industry best practices and compliance processes relevant to your area(s) of work.

  • For example, set out the legal, policy and professional context you work within. Make sure examples of work that you include refer to relevant legislation, policy, standards, etc.
    Be prepared to discuss, and critically evaluate, how they apply to your work in your professional review.

2) Show how you analyse and apply underpinning theory and/or current research to your work and how you evaluate established and new techniques and approaches. Where applicable, explain how you monitor others using these techniques.

For example

  • tell us about your approach to keeping up to date with theoretical and methodological developments in your area of practice and discuss relevant research and how it has informed your work.
  • give examples where you have taken an innovative approach or adapted an established methodology in response to a particular challenge.
  • tell us about how you review your own work, and that of others where applicable, in the light of theoretical and/or methodological developments.


1) Describe how you plan, manage and assure the quality of your work and, where appropriate, that of others and explain the approaches you have used to achieve successful outcomes in a leadership role.

For example

  • tell us about your approach to your work and how you ensure it meets professional and organisational quality standards
  • give an example where you led colleagues or stakeholders to deliver a piece or work, project or initiative and what the impact of that work was. Did the work achieve the outcome intended and can you show how your leadership contributed to that?

2) Demonstrate that you take responsibility for assessing gaps in your own knowledge and/or skills and, where applicable, that of others and that you address them through Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

For example

  • tell us about your approach to keeping your knowledge and skills up to date
  • give examples that demonstrate how you ensure that you, and your team where relevant, have the knowledge and skills to successfully deliver your work.

Coping with complexity

1) Explain how you manage your workload when there are multiple demands, interests or sources of data to be taken into account.  

2) Describe and critically evaluate how you have addressed complex areas within your work and the sources of information you use to support decision making.

3) Demonstrate that you are able to take responsibility for exercising professional judgement to solve problems.

For example

  • tell us about your approach to decision making and to managing your workload. How do you balance multiple and/or conflicting demands or data sources to achieve outcomes which are consistent with your obligations as a professional archaeologist (ie in accordance with the Code of conduct)?
  • tell us about particularly complex problems or issues you have encountered and describe how you approached them. These might be archaeological problems, or they might be complex competing interests or priorities. What are the frameworks and techniques you draw on to resolve complex issues? Reflect on whether the approach you took or the decisions you made were successful – were there any outstanding issues and what might you have done differently?
  • tell us about how you use the Code of conduct, CIfA Standards and guidance or the competence matrix as a guide to measure and evaluate your own competence and ability to make decisions and exercise professional judgement. How do you balance tried and tested methodologies with innovation and continuous improvement?

4) Demonstrate that you can anticipate, identify and resolve potential and actual conflicts of interest, collaborating with colleagues and/or stakeholders to achieve a resolution where relevant.

For example

  • Give examples of actual or potential conflicts of interest you’ve encountered and how you approached or resolved them, with reference to the ethical frameworks you used. Are there instances where your obligations to your organisation, client or employer appear to conflict with your professional obligations? What is your approach in these cases? Who was involved? Whose ‘buy-in’ did you need to reach a solution and who needed to be informed? How do you ensure that others learn from your experience?

Perception of professional context

1) Demonstrate understanding of the underpinning principles of the profession and familiarity with its ethical code and practice standards.

2) Demonstrate that you can apply and evaluate professional judgement, that you understand the importance of ethical behaviour and that you support and encourage others to do the same.

3) Describe the wider context of your work and its impact in relation to stakeholders.

For example

  • tell us how you ensure that you base your conclusions on a sound evidence base, that they are supported and defensible in relation to the Code of conduct, Standards and guidance and other relevant sector guidance or expectations. Are these strands of guidance mutually reinforcing or are there areas where they conflict?
  • explain how working to a professional standard helps to deliver greater benefit to your stakeholders, including the public, or why professional accreditation is important to public confidence in your work.

4) Demonstrate that you understand the roles of the key historic environment sector organisations and who the beneficiaries and stakeholders of your work are.

5) Explain how you have balanced competing interests and maximised opportunities for positive impacts.

For example

  • tell us who the clients/stakeholders/beneficiaries are of the work that you do. Who is affected by your work and is there potential for that to be negative?
  • explain how you ensure that you balance competing stakeholder interests, maximise the positive impact of your work and minimise any negative impacts.

6) Discuss the impact of your work on others, including how you create public benefit and deliver value to society, and describe the wider context of your work.

For example

  • give examples showing how you have created new knowledge and/or where sharing your knowledge has had a real impact on an individual, community or the public in general
  • tell us how you decide on a course of action which will deliver the greatest benefit within time and cost parameters. Is there an example of a case where you argued for a change of approach in order to maximise public benefit? Whom did you have to convince and how did you do it?
  • explain who benefits from your work – individuals, organisations, communities of interest?