Understanding the Past - Introduction to Archaeology
What is archaeology? How do we decide where to excavate and what happens after that? How do we date our sites and finds? This module will answer these questions and many more! In this module we look at the history of the discipline and how the evidence uncovered during excavation is discovered, recorded, and analysed, and how we use this to provide evidence for human societies from prehistory to the present day. You also go ‘into the field’ with integrated fieldwork at nearby Wollaton Park where you can learn and practise new skills such as mapping and surveying earthworks and buildings.
Introduction to Archaeological Science
The use of methods from biological and earth sciences has transformed the practice of archaeology from the discovery of radiocarbon dating to the use of stable isotope analysis to trace the movements and diet of past populations. This module will introduce you to some of the key developments in archaeological science over the last 50 years and will show you how scientific methods have dramatically changed our understanding of the past, ranging from the study of archaeological materials and artefacts to environmental archaeology. The teaching is delivered in a mix of lectures, seminars and practical classes.
This module consists of small group tutorials in both the autumn and spring semesters in which emphasis will be placed on discussion, essay writing and seminar presentations. These will be based on topics in the qualifying-year geography modules and from broader intellectual, cultural and political fields. You will have a one-hour tutorial each week.
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
The module provides you with the theoretical background and practical training to undertake basic spatial analysis within a contemporary Geographic Information System (GIS).
It is built upon a structured set of paired theory lectures and practical sessions, supported by detailed theory topics delivered via Moodle, which contain linkages to associated textbook resources. It aims to ensure competency in the use of a contemporary GIS software package whilst developing transferable ICT skills.
It also encourages you to develop the analytical skills necessary for the creation of workflows that utilise the built-in analytical functionality of a GIS to solve a spatial problem.
The Archaeology of Britain
This module provides you with an overview of the archaeology of the British Isles from the earliest humans up to the industrial revolution. By focusing in Britain as a ‘time core’ we will provide you with a clear understanding of the dynamics of cultural change as well as introducing you to all the important sites and discoveries that are on your doorstep. Teaching is delivered in a mix of lectures, seminars and fieldtrips. The module covers the entire story of Britain, beginning in the Palaeolithic period, ranging across Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age societies, to consider the Roman occupation, Anglo-Saxon and Viking incursions, and medieval, Tudor and modern Britain. It will reveal that, as today, the British Isles have always been cosmopolitan – a rich mix of cultures and identities that have resulted from millennia of colonisations, migrations and invasions.
Archaeology: The Living and the Dead
This module deals with the archaeology of life and death in all its complexity and diversity. You will learn about the major archaeological discoveries that have fundamentally changed our interpretations of past peoples. We also look at the personalities and ideologies that have shaped our discipline, noting how changing perspectives on gender, ethnicity and class have in turn shaped our ideas about the past. The module then turns to the archaeology of death – since, paradoxically, this can tell us a huge amount about the living. The cultural and scientific study of human remains will give you insights into past diets, social status, health and attitudes towards different members of society, while the study of burial practices and rituals cast light on the structure of human societies and their beliefs, from prehistory to the modern era.
Interpreting Geographical Data
This module provides the basic statistical concepts and techniques required for the study of geography. Topics include:
- spreadsheets and statistical packages
- introduction to statistical conepts
- descriptive statistics and distributions
- exploratory data analysis
- parametric and non-parametric tests
- correlation and regression
Exploring Human Geography
The module provides you with introductory knowledge about current issues in human geography. It critically examines the complex relations between people and places through key themes and concepts in current human geography.
Attention is given to innovative work in cultural, historical, medical, environmental, economic and development geography and to the traditionally broad perspective of human geography as a whole. The module will examine a variety of key themes that may vary from year to year. This module provides a foundation for more specialised human geography modules at levels 2 and 3.
Geographical Field Course
A four day, intensive period of residential field study. Teaching will concentrate on the rationale and techniques of field study in both human and physical aspects of geography. Particular emphasis is placed on the design, practice and analysis of small research projects based on geographical issues.
Small-group teaching is central to this module; you will work in a small group throughout, and much of the teaching involves direct interaction between staff (and postgraduate demonstrators) and the small groups of students.
Physical Landscapes of Britain
This module provides an understanding of the history and origins of the Earth and its life and landforms through consideration of the following topics:
- Development of life over geological time
- Environmental changes over geological time
- Field trip to the Peak District (full costs will be suppliednearer the time of the trip)
Earth and Environmental Dynamics
This module integrates knowledge taken from the hydrosphere, oceans and continents to inform an understanding of global physical systems as they affect people and the environment. The module considers:
- hydrological cycles
- principles of Earth and geomorphological systems
- fluvial geomorphology and biogeomorphology
On Earth and Life
On Earth and Life explores the deep historical co-evolution of Earth and Life and emphasises uniqueness of place and historical contingency. The module leads on from and complements Physical Landscapes of Britain in exploring geological, plate tectonic and palaeoenvironmental ideas and research, but at the global scale.
It emphasises the role of life in creating past and present planetary environments, and conversely the role of environment and environmental change in the evolution and geography of life. The module also serves to prepare the ground for and contextualise several second and third year geography modules, especially Environmental Change and Patterns of Life.
The module introduces you to geographical research on place, conveying current research in the field, including that carried out within the School of Geography. You will gain knowledge of key concepts and methodological approaches, with understanding developed through the examination of place-based case studies.
Lectures will outline developments in the geographical study of place in recent decades, and explore key themes such as place and memory, place and knowledge, and place and identity. The challenges and opportunities offered by the digital exploration of place will be outlined, using case studies of digital mapping and the public display of geographical information. Regional case studies will show how the research themes presented in the module can be brought together around the study of specific places and landscapes.
Throughout the module, staff will draw upon their own research as well as the wider academic literature, giving students a sense of the possibilities of geographical research exploring place.
Tracing Economic Globalisation
The module introduces you to contemporary and historical approaches to understanding economic globalisation and its spatial unevenness. You will develop knowledge relating to globalisation as a set of discourses and practices using case studies relating to key themes of relevance.
Lectures will outline the key debates relating to globalisation as a phenomenon and will interrogate the relevance of the concept through an examination of commodities, labour and work, governance and money and finance.
You will also explore the spatial unevenness of globalisation, and develop understandings of the ways in which globalisation has contributed to an increasingly unequal and differentiated society at a variety of scales. Alternatives to globalisation will also be discussed, focusing upon various counter-globalisation strategies in the forms of localism, activism and protest.
Throughout the module, staff will draw upon their own research as well as the wider academic literature, giving you a sense of the complexity, and importance, of globalisation as a set of theories and a set of sited realities.
Archaeological Research: Theory and Practice
The excitement of discovery and research is the foundation of everything we do as archaeologists. This module is aimed at helping you to develop more advanced research skills and to discover how we interpret archaeological evidence from multiple different perspectives. Here we explore how changes in the wider social and theoretical landscape have changed archaeological understanding through time. You will be introduced to the concepts and methods that you will put into practice in your third year dissertation or independent project, and learn how to develop a research proposal. The teaching is delivered in a mix of lectures, class workshops and research skills sessions.
This module considers the mechanisms for, and evidence of, global environmental change during the timescale of the Quaternary period. The nature, causes and impacts of change are evaluated in the context of the available evidence within a range of natural and human environments.
Techniques in Human Geography
In this module you’ll understand and experience human geography research methods through participation in three practical projects. This will aid you in exploring methods for students undertaking primary research in human geography including for their dissertation. For this module you’ll have lectures, practicals and independent learning.
This module explores aspects of medical geography, with special reference to the geography of infectious diseases. Topics include:
- the nature of medical geography and the geography of health
- the history of medical geography
- epidemiological concepts
- the disease record
- the epidemiological transition
- spatial diffusion of infectious diseases
- the geography of disease emergence and re-emergence
- islands as epidemiological laboratories
- geography of war and disease
- disease forecasting and control
Digital Explorers: Finding geospatial patterns in a changing world
This module provides a consideration of the following:
- Introduction to GI science/systems/studies/services
- Spatial data types and sources
- Vector processing algorithms
- Raster processing algorithms
- Spatial analysis and decision making
- Professional training in ArcGIS
This module will cover the following topics:
- Economic globalisation
- Changing geographies of the world economy during the 20th century
- Economic geographies of advanced producer services
- Global cities, financial geographies
- Alternative economies and criminality
Cultural and Historical Geography
This module introduces you to cultural and historical geography including the:
- development of cultural and historical geography as sub-disciplines
- key thematic areas of contemporary cultural and historical geography, including landscape, identity, culture, power and knowledge
- theoretical underpinnings of cultural and historical geography
- links between cultural and historical geography and other fields of enquiry in the humanities and social sciences
- methods and sources used in cultural and historical geographical research, including archives, texts and images, and field study
- work of key figures from the sub-disciplines past and present
This module introduces you to urban geography, including the:
- historical development of urban geography as a sub-discipline
- key thematic areas of contemporary urban geography, including research in the social, economic and cultural and historical geographies of cities
- theoretical underpinnings of approaches to urban geography
- importance of cities in understanding social difference, cultural landscapes and economic development in the Global North and South
- work of key figures from the sub-disciplines past and present
The aim of this module is to prepare you for the undertaking of your dissertation, which is a significant piece of supervised research that includes working in the field, collecting primary and/or secondary data, conducting a literature review, undertaking independent research and writing up your research to produce a significant piece of original scholarship. This module is taught by formal lectures, scheduled preliminary fieldwork, and supervision meetings with your dissertation tutor.
Archaeology and Society: Heritage and Professional Skills
This module will introduce the structure and context of the professional archaeological sector in the UK, and issues and debates in cultural heritage. It will outline the process of working in archaeology and the type of work carried out by commercial units, museums, and local and national government heritage originations, with careers advice from professional archaeologists across the sector. Students will learn how archaeologists plan excavation projects, study the archaeology of standing buildings, and manage the historic environment. In the spring term, you will apply this knowledge and develop your research, presentation and team-working skills through a group multi-media heritage project focused on a local historic or archaeological site.
Exploring Archaeological Evidence
This module is designed to provide you with a solid understanding of the theory and practice of scientific archaeology, building on what you have learnt in the first year, and covers a series of exciting topics, ranging from bioarchaeology (zooarchaeology and archaeobotany) to ancient technologies. You will learn how to identify, analyse and interpret plant remains and animal bones, and how these can be employed to study diet, economic practices and cultural identities in the past. You will explore how glass, pottery and metal objects were made, used and traded, using a range of different approaches and techniques combining theory, ethnography and scientific analysis. The module includes a combination of lectures and practical sessions which will enhance your understanding and equip you with real skills to increase your employability should you seek a career in archaeology.
Doing archaeology underwater is one of the most challenging but exciting contexts in which we work! This module will provide you with a broad introduction to current methods and practice of Underwater Archaeology. The module explores themes such as shipwrecks, submerged cities and sunken harbours, lake dwelling and freshwater archaeology, using case studies ranging in space from Scandinavia to Australia and in time from 1500 BC to the last century. It tackles the varied techniques of underwater excavation, finds processing and conservation, and the issue of cultural resource management vs. treasure hunting.
This module will examine the archaeology of empire, hegemony and identity in three different historical periods, exploring how archaeological material can shed light on ways in which empires were experienced by both colonisers and colonised. We will start with Rome, arguably the model for many later imperial projects, and assess the evidence for the expansion of the empire and the ways in which Roman and other identities are manifested. We will then consider the medieval empires of northern Europe, the Mediterranean, and the relationship between the Islamic world and the Crusader kingdoms of the Latin east. Finally, we will consider the Age of Discovery and the growth of European trans-Atlantic empires in the early modern era, exploring archaeological evidence for early colonial settlements, the growth of slavery, and the impact on native peoples.
Human Osteology and Evolution
What can we learn from the human skeleton and how can we tell the stories of past people from their bones? In this module you will handle real archaeological skeletons and learn how to identify their age, sex, stature and pathologies, and how we can reconstruct past populations from burial evidence. We also consider the skeleton in terms of human evolution, examining the anatomical differences between human and non-human primates, as well as the archaeology and life ways of our earliest ancestors.
The Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England
This module considers the archaeology of England from the end of the Roman occupation until the Norman conquest. You will explore the question of the Romano-British survival and the formation of new Anglo-Saxon societies, evidence of pagan beliefs and the conversion to Christianity; on the development of town and rural settlement patterns, on the role of the church in society and on the Viking incursions and Danish impact on England.
This is a 10,000 word individual project based on a geographical topic involving fieldwork and/or secondary data, and agreed by the candidate with their tutor and a specialist supervisor.
Dissertation in Archaeology
This module will introduce you to original archaeological research by providing you with an opportunity to undertake and write up your own substantial piece of work of 12,000 words, on an approved topic, under the supervision of an academic member of staff. For this project you will work in a way similar to an academic archaeologist, from identifying a suitable research topic to critically evaluating the issues relating to the subject area and sustaining a coherent and cogent argument. This undertaking will involve the culmination of the range of core practical and interpretative skills acquired during the first two years of the course.
Independent Research Project
Students not undertaking a dissertation in archaeology will carry out an independent research project (6,000 words) in the autumn or spring semester, using skills they have acquired in earlier modules to research a subject of their choice under the guidance of an appropriate supervisor. For this module you will meet with you supervisor in individual tutorials.
The Landscape History of Liguria
An interdisciplinary module which introduces the principles of historical ecology and landscape history, drawing on a wide range of sources including historical maps and documents, field survey of vegetation and landscape features and oral history using Liguria as a case study. This includes a field trip to Liguria, full costs will be supplied nearer the time of the trip.
This module considers the quaternary evolution, environmental and settlement history of the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, building explicitly on material covered in Environmental Change. The focus of the course will be evolution of the present climate and environment of the lowland tropics and the interaction between the natural environment and human societies.
The module is based on a 10 day residential field trip to the Yucatan and project work associated with this. Full costs of the field trip will be advised nearer the time of the visit. The main elements are:
- an overview of climate dynamics in the tropics, with particular emphasis on changes in the monsoon, the impact of sea level change and drivers of change from mid-latitudes
- critical review of methods of environmental reconstruction, dating techniques and sampling methods (waters, soils, sediments)
- archives of change relevant to the study area, primarily lakes and cave systems
- quaternary history of the Yucatan
- mesoamerican archaeology and cultural change in the Yucatan
- exploration of the possible role of climate in driving societal change
The Cultural Geography of English Landscape
The module addresses issues of landscape and culture in England from the 18th century to the present day. Key themes throughout include landscape and national identity and relations of city and country.
The module utilises sources including archives, literature, paintings, prints, poetry, maps, film and photography.
The first semester focuses on issues of landscape and Englishness since 1880. Topics covered include tradition and modernism, competing notions of heritage, the cultural politics of land, and questions of citizenship and the body. The second semester focuses on landscapes of Georgian England. Topics covered include parks and gardens; colonial landscapes; agriculture; industry and science; towns; and transport and travel.
Throughout the module the focus on landscape allows the exploration of key areas of cultural history. A one-day field trip to Derwent Valley is arranged, full costs will be provided nearer the time of the trip.
Geographies of Money and Finance
This module explores the economic geographies of money and of contemporary processes of financialisation. Competing theories of money, and the changing landscapes of finance and the financial services industry are explored at a variety of spatial scales.
Spaces examined include the global financial system, the UK retail financial market, the City of London and the emergence of local currency systems. More specifically, the following core topics are covered:
- Financial crisis
- The history and theory of money
- Financial services and financial intermediation
- Globalisation and the international financial system
- The City of London as international financial centre
- Landscapes of retail financial services
- Alternative and imagined landscapes of money
The module covers the following:
- A review of modern climate systems and forcings
- Climate modelling, projections of future climate change and their uncertainty
- Controversies around climate change, the argument between believers and sceptics and the ways in which climate change is communicated to and perceived by the public
- The impact of climate change on the world's physical and built environments, water and food resources, and human health
- Mitigation and adaptation to future climate change including the role played by policy markers and NGOs
The Geographical Imagination
This module will review the history of geography over the past three centuries to provide a deeper understanding of contemporary debates, and provide a cultural and historical analysis of the nature of geography as an academic subject and field of knowledge.
The first semester considers the emergence of geography as a self-consciously 'enlightened' 18th century science and reviews some of the factors that influenced its subsequent development, including cartography and mapping, exploration and field observation, evolutionary and early social scientific theories, the rise of civic education, national and imperial politics, radical and revolutionary ideas, and warfare and geopolitics.
The second semester focuses on the 20th century to consider connections between field cultures and geographical knowledge, the visual cultures of geography, links between geography and Cold War politics, and ideas of geography as spatial science. Attention is given throughout to the biographies of key figures exercising the geographical imagination.
The Archaeology of the Medieval City
The aim of this module is to provide you with a broad knowledge of the archaeological evidence for the development of cities and urban life in the later medieval period AD 1000-1500, with a focus on English towns and cities in their wider Europe context. The module will explore the integration of varied sources of archaeological evidence including urban landscapes, buildings and material culture, covering key themes such as urban growth, trade and industry, households and daily life, guilds and the Church.
Rome and the Mediterranean
In this module you will examine the archaeological evidence for the Roman period in Italy and the Mediterranean from 300 BC to AD 550. The major social, cultural and economic changes of the region in this period will be discussed as well as in the context of wider historical and archaeological approaches to the Mediterranean. Through a combination of lectures and seminars you will learn about Rome’s expansion into Italy and the Mediterranean, and the changes that occurred in towns, domestic building, rural settlement, religion, economy and society across the period from the Republic until Late Antiquity.
The Archaeology of Mycenaean Greece
This module will introduce you to the archaeology of the Mycenaean world and will give you familiarity with the achievements and the material culture of one of the greatest European Bronze Age civilizations of the second millennium BC, by discussing the historical, social, cultural and economic context of the period. You will explore the world of the Mycenaean palaces and citadels, their towns and trading ports, warfare, religion and cult activities, mortuary practices and ancestor worship, and their wider connections across the Mediterranean world.
Dead Important: archaeological answers to modern-day issues
Archaeology may be focused on the study of the past, but we believe that it is vitally important to help us understand the present and make a contribution to the future. This really exciting module breaks new ground by using archaeology to inform present-day concerns caused by increasing human population, intensification of food production, urbanisation, globalisation, climate change and inter-cultural conflict. None of these issues are purely modern phenomena, and this module brings an archaeological perspective covering 10,000 years of global culture change, using the innovative research being undertaken in our Department, to model bio-cultural dynamics and make a contribution to understanding and meeting the challenges facing the modern world.
Food and Culture: An exploration of tastes
Food is not just about nutrition and environment but it has also a strong socio-cultural dimension. This module takes an innovative approach to understanding the social role of food and plants, linking the past to current issues of food security, sustainability, trade and social in/stability. The module tackles issues such as the development of tastes, identity, social status, ethnicity, health and medicine, and feasting and commensality. It will explore the creation of ‘foodscapes’ and the investigation of diet and plants that cross boundaries in space and time from prehistory to the modern era, bringing together perspectives from archaeology, anthropology, sociology and geography.
Ancient glass is a unique and beautiful translucent material. Since it was invented some 5000 years ago it has been used for a wide range of functions, from luxurious and decorative objects, to vessels and containers for traded liquids, to the coloured windows used in medieval churches and cathedrals. This module covers how glass is made from raw materials, how it was coloured and decorated, and how it was used in a variety of functional and ritual contexts from the Bronze Age to the medieval period. The module brings together socio-cultural and scientific perspectives to show how scientific analysis sheds light on glass technology, trade and provenance, and during practical sessions students will handle ancient glass and try out some of the techniques for themselves.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.