Archaeology postgraduate modules

Indicative module descriptions

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.}

Assessment: Written assignment and presentation

Byzantine Archaeology and Material Culture

The module surveys the history of archaeological practice as it concerns the post-Roman East, and explores 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 focuses 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.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

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 analysing 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.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Towns, Tombs and Temples: archaeology of Ancient Egypt

This module offers an introduction to ancient Egyptian history from Predynastic times to the periods of Ptolemaic and Roman rule through the archaeological record. While popular visions of ancient Egypt have traditionally been dominated by elite culture, in this module we will diversify our approach by paying attention to other non-monumental aspects of material culture as well. Each weekly seminar session will focus on one key archaeological site, where we will explore the deep history of the site, the main landmarks and artefacts associated with it, and its wider implications, including an overview of past and current fieldwork. These sites will serve as case studies to illustrate a number of current debates in Egyptian archaeology, such as the alleged existence of a middle class, the recurring description of Egypt as a ‘civilisation without cities’, or to what extent non-royal tombs may be seen as a reflection of personal identity.

Assessment: Book review (1,000 words); 10-minute oral presentation accompanied by PowerPoint slideshow; Portfolio of written work for mock excavation proposal for an Egyptian site (2,500 words)

Funerary Archaeology

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.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Please note that the optional module information listed here is intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year and depending on your programme of study. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.