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.
Alongside the dissertation, you take three taught modules to complement your research topic from the list below.
Archaeological Theory, Method and Interpretation
This module delivers a generic disciplinary introduction to how archaeologists investigate and interpret past cultural worlds and social life. It focuses on key areas of theory, method and interpretation, embracing a range of cultural archaeology, landscape archaeology, heritage and environmental archaeology themes. It is also designed to develop and enhance key practical and research skills, especially in oral presentation, teamwork and essay-writing.
This module surveys contemporary landscape archaeology and themes in the analysis and interpretation of past landscapes. It provides an introduction to theoretical approaches in landscape archaeology, and how different kinds of landscapes and extensive forms of landscape organisation, social practice and perception have been recognised, investigated and interpreted archaeologically. Methodologies of landscape-scale study will be reviewed and evaluated in the light of theoretical frameworks, research agendas, and the impacts of investigative techniques, including remote sensing and geophysical survey. The course is delivered in both class contexts and through a field study visit to explore the design and application of fieldwork methodologies in a specific landscape setting, interpretations of the past cultural landscapes revealed, and their modern representation and construction.
This module provides an introduction to material culture studies and artefact analysis in Archaeology, drawing on wider perspectives on materiality in related disciplines such as Anthropology. It serves to create a foundation in material culture theory, analysis and interpretation, focusing on current archaeological approaches to the study of artefacts and the materiality of cultural life. Key themes include classification and typology, technology, functionalism, symbolism, contextual analysis, agency theory and signification, aesthetics, and the material analysis and representation of artefacts in both research and popular media. The module comprises lectures, seminar classes, and analysis of material culture in class exercises and other contexts.
This module presents a critical review of theoretical approaches and interpretative themes in contemporary funerary archaeology, and examines the central significance of this field of study in current debates in world archaeology. The extraordinarily rich and diverse character of mortuary evidence is highlighted, with particular focus on how this kind of evidence is used to explore the relationships between cultural ideals, values, social agency and symbolic representation. Key interpretative themes that are considered from several perspectives include social interpretation, cultural identity and personhood, ritual practice, and past belief systems. The module draws widely on cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary case studies in archaeology and cognate disciplines such as anthropology and history.
Archaeology of Greece
This module provides an advanced overview of approaches to the archaeology of Greece from prehistory to the Roman period. Students will be introduced to contemporary developments in the theory and practice of archaeology, and will gain expertise in using and interpreting a variety of evidence including site reports, artefacts and iconography in addressing archaeological questions, and in relating archaeological evidence to textual evidence where available. The module will include a series of case studies of important archaeological sites across a range of periods.
Egyptian Culture 1100-200 BC
The first millennium BC is one of the most fascinating periods in Egyptian history, during which the country was invaded by Libyans, Persians and Greeks, among others. There was also intensified contact with the Mediterranean and Near Eastern worlds generally. The central themes of this module will be the resilience of Egyptian culture, its relationship to its own past and the new ways in which traditional forms of religious expression developed. Students will be introduced to contemporary developments in the theory and practice of Egyptology, and will gain expertise in using and interpreting a variety of evidence in addressing historical questions.
Creating Europe: complex societies 1000 BC – AD 1000
This module explores the nature of complex societies in Europe from the Iron Age to the early medieval period, and their interactions with the state-organised societies of the Mediterranean. It is organised thematically and chronologically, focusing on interpretations of complex societies, large-scale economic and political systems, ethnicity, elite culture, chiefdoms, state formation, empire, urbanism, coinage, and long-term change. Case studies are drawn from a wide range of cultural contexts in north-west and central Europe, using both archaeological and historical evidence. A key theme addressed throughout the module is the extent to which social forms and transformations in Europe can be explained in terms of indigenous cultural, economic and political processes or in terms of inter-regional Mediterranean/temperate European influences and dependencies.
Empire and Identity
This module considers the impact of the Roman Empire on peoples’ perceptions of themselves and how this was represented through their material culture. The lectures are arranged thematically, covering the period from c. 250 BCE to 300 CE. Based on primary archaeological evidence and on the critical evaluation of previous scholarship, the module aims at analyzing the specific quality of Rome’s rule over the Mediterranean and Central and North-western Europe and the various forms of cultural (and violent) interaction this hegemony entailed. Lectures will focus on a broad range of topics, such as the changing perceptions on the concept of ‘Romanisation’, the army as an incubator of Roman identity, religion and identity in the empire, bathing and Roman identity, urbanism and empire, violence and cultural transformation, Roman art and society, imperial modes of production, and the creation of Roman provincial landscapes.
Late Roman and Byzantine Archaeology and Material Culture
This module is based on the largest source of fresh evidence for the Late Roman to early medieval eastern Mediterranean world (including south-east Europe), namely archaeology. It is designed to accustom students to use archaeological materials to evaluate historians’ ideas about economic, social, cultural and political changes. The module will survey the history of archaeological practice as it concerns the post-Roman East, and will explore key aspects of the Late Roman and Transitional (‘Dark-Age’) archaeological record, different archaeological strategies, and how archaeological literature can be used to understand some of the major long-term changes that characterise the period AD 300-800. It will focus in particular on interpretative themes such as Christianisation, invasions, demographic changes, the transformation of urban culture, and changes in rural settlement, agriculture and artisanal production.
GIS and Spatial Analysis
This module aims to develop knowledge and understanding of the theory and practice of landscape analysis using Geographical Information Systems (GIS). The course introduces students to advanced concepts of GIS and spatial analysis and the application of GIS to landscape studies, covering concepts such as the development of data models for landscape archaeology, airborne/satellite remote sensing, GIS as a research tool, and issues relating to the deployment of GIS for both research and curatorial purposes.
This module introduces you to the theory and practice of recording the archaeological and environmental elements of ancient landscapes, from individual structures and monuments to integrated large-scale landscape surveys. The module includes an introduction to the fundamentals of geodetic survey, and practical training in basic measured survey using a variety of equipment and survey data processing in both conventional and digital formats. The module will also explore the potential of survey data for analysis through assessment by a group project using data through work generated through the course Field School. The Field School will take place at an appropriate site or landscape selected by staff.
Please note that the optional modules listed on the website for this programme are intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.