The principal element of the programme, and of assessment, is the 20,000-word research dissertation on a subject agreed by you and a member of staff with appropriate research interests. This research project also forms the core of your application to study, and we recommend that you discuss your proposed research project with a potential supervisor in advance of applying. The thesis can be regarded as an independent piece of research or a foundation for doctoral-level study.
The potential areas for research are very diverse and include British and European prehistory, the archaeology of the Roman World, Late Antiquity and Greece, and thematic areas such as environment, landscape, material culture, death and burial, age and gender, warfare, ritual and religion, and archaeological theory and method.
Alongside the dissertation, you take three taught modules to complement your research topic and your existing skills profile. The modules available include:
Theory, Method and Interpretation in Archaeology
Egyptian Culture 1100-1200 BC
Complex Societies in Europe, 1000 BC-AD 1000
Empire and Identity
Byzantine Archaeology and Material Culture
GIS and Spatial Analysis
This module will help you to develop the skills necessary for graduate level research, introduce you to the latest methods and techniques for interpreting primary sources, and demonstrate how to make critical use of scholarly works. You will learn how to define and approach interesting research questions, and develop an overview of the fields of scholarship most relevant to your pathway.
You may also have access to the following modules:
The Archaeology of Greece
This module uses a series of case studies, from prehistory to the Roman period, to explore the latest approaches in Greek Archaeology. You will gain expertise in interpreting evidence including site reports, artefacts and iconography and using them to answer archaeological questions, and in relating archaeology to texts.
Approaches to Images, Material Culture and Texts
This module invites you to experiment with interdisciplinary approaches. Linked to a series of research seminars by academic staff, the module is a forum in which staff and students work together to identify significant current directions in research, and to explore links, and differences, between academic disciplines.
Ancient Greek or Latin Language
Available at beginner or advanced levels.
The beginners' module provides an intensive introduction to either Greek or Latin. It aims to provide you with the basic linguistic skills needed to acquire a reading knowledge of Greek/Latin for the purposes of research.
The advanced module consolidates linguistic skills to enable you to work independently on Latin/Greek texts in the original language, building upon existing knowledge. It develops analytical and critical skills by means of advanced grammar and reading classes focusing in detail on a text or texts.
Creating Europe: Complex Societies 1000 BC – 1000 AD
This module explores the nature of complex societies in Europe from the late Bronze Age to the early medieval period, and their interactions with the state-organised and imperial societies of the Mediterranean. The module is organised thematically and chronologically, exploring the theorisation and interpretation of complex societies, large-scale economic and political systems, ethnicity and cultural identity, elite culture and chiefdom social structures, urbanism, coinage, social power and state formation, empire, and long-term social change. Case studies are drawn from a wide range of cultural contexts, focussing on rich and diverse kinds of archaeological evidence from temperate north-west and central Europe, and considering how these relate to historical sources. A key theme addressed throughout the module is the extent to which the social forms and transformations of temperate Europe can be explained in terms of Mediterranean influences and dependencies, and vice versa, or were driven primarily by indigenous cultural, economic and political rationales and processes in both regions.
Empire and Identity: The City in the Roman West
This module is in two parts, both linked by questions of how contact with the Roman empire changed peoples’ perceptions of themselves and how this was represented in particular through their material culture.
The first part considers the ‘Romanisation’ debate of the last hundred years, from the ‘top-down’ view of Haverfield and his successors, who brought to bear their own experiences of European colonialism and imperialism, through to more recent ‘bottom-up’ analyses employing post-colonial and related analyses, to the current position where the term can be seen as counter-productive.
The second part looks at the construction of ‘barbarian’ identities in the later Roman period (mainly the 4th and 5th centuries). It considers the construction of ‘ethnicity’ in the 20th century, from Kossinna on, and its relationship to material culture (if there is any). The recent discussions of the construction of ‘identity’ rather than just ‘ethnicity’ are considered. Particular use is made of the rich textual and archaeological evidence for the (Visi-)Goths.
Both part of the module seek to deconstruct traditional views and show how new thinking is necessitating profound review of previously accepted categories of ‘ethnicity’ in favour of considerations such as age, gender and status.
Individuals in History
This module explores the theory and practice of historiography, normally in the Roman world, with particular emphasis on the role of the individual. Typically, the module will be centred on a key text or texts which will enable students to develop strategies for reading and understanding the sources (biographic, literary, historical, material cultural) through which the role of the individual is accessed, and the relationship between individuals and their cultures is understood. This module will investigate issues such as: the significance of individuals in models of historical causation; the impact of biographical tropes and the importance of particular topoi for understanding characterisation; theories of the individual, character-development and biographical criticism; how individuals project themselves into history, versus the impact of historiographic/cultural imperatives on the representation of individuals within history.
Late Roman and Byzantine Archaeology and Material Culture I
This module is based on the largest source of fresh evidence for the Late Roman-to-early medieval Eastern Mediterranean world (including southeastern Europe), namely archaeology. It is designed to accustom interested students to using archaeological materials in the discussion of historians’ ideas about economic, social, cultural, and even political changes. A background in archaeology is not essential, but some general aspects of the aims and methods of different types of archaeological projects must be introduced. The module(s) will deal with this by exploring the history of archaeological practice as it concerns the post-Roman East. We will then focus on the new debates which archaeology stimulates about important aspects of history from ca. 300 to ca. 800 AD. These concern the multiple impacts of invaders and invasions, Christianisation, demographic changes, the transformation of urban culture, and changes in rural settlement, agriculture, and artisanal production. By the end of this module you should be able to recognise key aspects of the Late Roman and Transitional (‘Dark-Age’) archaeological record, understand the problems and value of different archaeological strategies, and use the burgeoning archaeological literature to discuss some of the major long-term changes that characterise the period ca. 300-800 beyond western and northern Europe.
Late Roman and Byzantine Archaeology and Material Culture II
This module is based on the burgeoning archaeology of the medieval eastern Mediterranean and SE Europe and has the same general aims and themes as Late Roman and Byzantine Archaeology I. However, taking account of the rise and spread of Islam, the Slavs, and eventually the Crusades, and the divisions which these brought to the geographical space concerned, the module concentrates on the Christian world in the Balkans, Greece, Cyprus and Anatolia. At the same time the survival of local archives from the 9th c. onwards creates new possibilities for an historical archaeology of regions and sub-regions. By the end of this module you should be able to recognise key aspects of the medieval Byzantine and Crusader (‘Frankish’) archaeological record, use the archaeological literature to question some of the grand narratives of historians, and see ‘dramatic’ short-term historical changes from new perspectives.
Egyptian Culture in Context
Herodotus and Ancient Worlds
Myth and Text in Antiquity
Research Project Development
Some of the optional modules may form the core of some pathways – but will be available as optional modules to other pathways.