Archaeology and Anthropology (LV64): Selected Module Descriptions Year 1

First Year

Compulsory modules

First Year Projects A+B (20)

A series of in-depth studies of key types of evidence (e.g. texts or other historical sources, archaeological sites and material culture) associated with problems of source analysis and interrogation. These will familiarise students with the centrality within the discipline of primary evidence and the existence of multiple ways of looking at that evidence. Each student will be allocated to a small group led by a member of staff (also his/her personal tutor) who will offer a set of topics drawn from his/her speciality appropriate to the degree programme.

Practical Archaeology (20)

This module provides an introduction to the theoretical, methodological and practical constitution of Archaeology, focussing on the unique set of field data collection techniques and related analytical and interpretative methods at the heart of the discipline. The module includes: a brief overview of the history of archaeological thought and methodological development; lectures on key fieldwork methods, analytical techniques; dating methods and chronology, practical classes on the identification, analysis and interpretation of material and environmental evidence; and a field training course in which students gain core practical skills, first-hand knowledge of archaeological fieldwork methodology and an understanding of reflexive on-site interpretation.

World Archaeology (20)

This module provides an introduction to human physical evolution, society and cultural life from the Palaeolithic to the Middle Ages. It combines a developmental evolutionary narrative with comparative cross-cultural analyses of past social systems, material culture, transformative technologies and forms of symbolic communication. Key themes include: the emergence and nature of modern humans; the origins and spread of farming technologies, complex societies and urbanism; state formation; the nature of 'civilization' and complex symbolic and artistic representation; imperialism and hegemony; and large-scale systems of trade and political and cultural interaction. A major theme throughout the module is the unique character of archaeological enquiry as the primary source of knowledge for understanding humanity at a global scale over the last three million years. 

Anthropology of Africa (20)

Anthropology of Africa examines the social, economic, and political organisation of a number of African societies and their recent historical transformations. Although examples from all of Africa are considered, the module focuses on the West Africa region. Its main aim is to familiarise students with some of the main societies present in this region, their interactions, and the main dynamics of social, political, and economic change. Students are introduced to different systems of production (e.g. hunting-and-gathering; pastoralism; agriculture; industrial production); different modes of reckoning kinship and their consequences for social organisation (e.g. unilineal or cognatic systems); and different political formations, from less to more centralised systems. They are encouraged to think critically about the use of sociological models, ethnic labels, and kinship diagrams. Each session focuses on a particular area and the societies which have been living there. Students taking this module become acquainted with examples of African societies, their recent history, and the conceptual frameworks that have been developed to make sense of them. 

Focus on Studying Societies (20)

This module delivers core study skills for African Studies and  Anthropology  programmes: basic orientation to the field, note-taking, identifying and accessing a range of sources, planning writing and editing an essay, ‘news tracking’ on the internet, and oral presentation techniques.

It also introduces students to interdisciplinarity in African Studies, including: anthropology: the interactions of history, politics, geography, literature and anthropology in the study of Africa.  The exploration of these disciplinary perspectives will be focussed around a theme or a geographical area, which may change from year to year (e.g. the Atlantic slave trade, the end of Apartheid, Congo).   

Thinking Anthropologically (20)

The module is a broad introduction to anthropological approaches to society and culture. It asks questions about social life to which the answers appear obvious, and examines them in comparative perspective. Examples may include: What is a gift? What is dirt? What is in a name? How universal are experiences of emotions? In the process, students are shown the point of anthropology – to see life through the eyes of other people, and to question one’s own assumptions. It focuses on ethnography, the practice of 'doing anthropology' both in Africa and elsewhere. We use written texts and film to open up and discuss central ideas and debates in anthropology.