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

First Year

Compulsory modules 

Project A (10 credits)

Students taking this project meet weekly in small groups with their Personal Tutor to cover a topic of their tutor’s choice. This will typically be related to the overall goals of their degree programme. Group sizes will typically not exceed twelve; students will be expected to prepare material ahead of classes, either individually or in groups, and to take active part in discussion in class. Sessions are led by the tutor in the first instance, but may include student-led elements.

The module is particularly intended to ensure that all students gain a firm understanding of the workings of university life; what skills and qualities are expected of them, and what resources are available to help them develop these. In particular, time will be dedicated to the following areas:

  1. Identification and use of primary sources
  2. Secondary sources; importance of peer review;
  3. Library skills (ideally to include a library visit and bibliographical task);
  4. Standard reference and online resources; evaluating online material;
  5. Essay conventions, especially referencing; how to avoid plagiarism;
  6. Academic etiquette, including email conventions.

Project B (10 credits)

Students taking this project meet weekly in small groups to cover a topic prescribed by the instructor. This may be more or less closely related to the individual student’s degree programme; where options are oversubscribed, priority will be given to students on the most relevant programmes. Group sizes will typically not exceed twelve; students will be expected to prepare material ahead of classes, either individually or in groups, and to take active part in discussion in class. Sessions are led by the tutor in the first instance, but will include student-led elements.

The module is intended to reinforce and build on the skills and understanding of university life covered in Tutorial Project A. In addition, students will be required to give group presentations on prepared topics. Instructors are encouraged also to organize an out-of-classroom activity, such as a visit to the Barber Institute, Eton Myers collection, Rare Books, or similar.

Understanding Archaeology (20 credits)

The module will introduce students to the evidence, themes and interpretative issues pursued in archaeological study.  Themes include the history of the discipline, human origins and development, subsistence and agriculture, biological and environmental archaeology, the development of settlement, technology and exchange, and an understanding of how past lives and society can be reconstructed using a range of archaeological evidence.

This module will also normally include two field trips. One will introduce students to a range of archaeological sites and landscapes. The second will be to a number of museum collections. This introduces the students to the range and diversity of material culture and its interpretation.

Practice of Archaeology (20 credits)

This module provides an introduction to the 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 method; 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 an Archaeology Field School in which students gain core practical skills, first-hand knowledge of archaeological fieldwork methodology and an understanding of reflexive on-site interpretation.

Studying Societies (Anthropology) (10 credits)

This module delivers core study skills for students reading Anthropology as a means to help them transition from secondary to higher education. The module provides a basic orientation in the field of Anthropology and allows students to familiarise themselves with the key skills necessary for success at university, such as note-taking, essay writing, academic integrity, oral presentation, and the ability to use library resources.

Anthropology and its Regions (10 credits)

This module develops students’ knowledge of Anthropology by allowing them to explore the diversity of the discipline in terms of its geographical regions and the theoretical developments that each region has encouraged. Students will learn about key anthropological themes, and the different forms they have taken in the perspectives emerging from research in particular world regions. Guided by their personal tutor, students will work on an individual project-based assessment based on the skills and thematic knowledge they have gained through the course of the semester.

Anthropology of Africa (20 credits)

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. 

Thinking Anthropologically (20 credits)

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.