Archaeology and Ancient History (VVC4): Selected Module Descriptions Year 1

First year

Compulsory modules 

Rethinking the Ancient World A (10 credits)  

This course provides a survey of the disciplinary specialisations, topics and methodologies practiced or exemplified in CAHA. It seeks to problematise, decentre or encourage the rethinking of the attitudes and assumptions of first-year students. The first semester focuses on mythology and questions of ethnicity and gender in antiquity.

Rethinking the Ancient World B (10 credits) 

This course provides a survey of the disciplinary specialisations, topics and methodologies practiced or exemplified in CAHA. It seeks to problematise, decentre or encourage the rethinking of the attitudes and assumptions of first-year students. The second semester focuses on archaeological approaches, examining in particular the lives and voices of non-elite or marginalised groups. 

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 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. 

Example optional modules may include: 

  • The Greek World (20 credits)
  • The Roman World (20 credits)
  • The Worlds of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia (20 credits)
  • Late Antiquity and the Byzantine World (20 credits)
  • Classics in the 20th and 21st centuries (20 credits)
  • Beginners' Greek, Latin, Akkadian or Egyptian A (20 credits)
  • Beginners' Greek, Latin, Akkadian or Egyptian B (20 credits)