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.
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 on 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.
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 affected 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.
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 Science
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.
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.
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 focus on the question of the Romano-British survival and the impact of Romano-British culture on the Anglo-Saxon incomers, on the archaeology of the early state in England, on the development of town and rural settlement patterns, on the role of the church in society and on the Danish impact on England. For this module you will have a combination of lectures, seminars and field trips over the course of 11 weeks.
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.