In year three you will choose to take a dissertation project in either archaeology or history of art under the supervision of a member of staff. This is an opportunity for you to develop an original project based around a subject which you are passionate about, and it represents the culmination of the range of core practical and interpretative skills acquired during the first two years of the course.
For the rest of the year you select modules from the wide range of topics and periods offered within the departments, allowing you to develop advanced knowledge and skills across both disciplines.
The Origins and Rise of Aegean Civilisation
In the early 20th century, British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans’s excavations at the site of Knossos on the island of Crete uncovered the remains of the earliest palatial civilisation in Europe. Knossos, the home of the mythical king Minos and the monstrous Minotaur, became the landmark of a new culture termed as ‘Minoan’.
Based on a combination of lectures and workshops, this module introduces students to the origins of the Aegean complex societies from the late 4th millennium BC and to the rise, apogee and fall of the Minoan palatial, state-level societies of the 3rd and early 2nd millennia BC.
From Petra to Palmyra: Art and Culture in the Roman Near East
This module focuses on the variety of local cults and cultures in the Near East (modern Syria, Lebanon, Israel/Palestine, Jordan) under Roman rule. We will zoom in on a number of localities in order to look at social, cultural and religious interactions between Greeks, Romans, Jews, Arabs and various other local cultures through literary, epigraphic, visual and archaeological evidence. In the great urban centres such as Palmyra, Tyre, Damascus, we will observe the adoption of the trappings of Graeco-Roman urbanism and public life (from peristyle temples to honorific statues) and their significance within the Second Sophistic.
On the other hand, we will explore alternative “pockets” of non-Hellenisation such as the lava lands of southern Syria with their distinct style of art and architecture in black basalt. ‘Oriental’ gods feature prominently in this module: We will explore their great sanctuaries (Temple of Jupiter at Heliopolis-Baalbek, Temple of Bel at Palmyra, Temple of Zeus at Damascus) in terms of architecture and ritual, and investigate their iconographies (Jupiter Heliopolitanus, Bel, Baalshamin, Atargatis of Hierapolis and myriads of other local gods). In contrast to Judaism and Christianity, there is a colossal lack of literary sources for these gods, and as a consequence, our understanding of their function and character hinges on how their worshippers depicted them in reliefs, statues, figurines and paintings.
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.
The World of the Etruscans
When Rome was still a small town, and before Athens became a city of international significance, the Etruscan civilisation flourished in Italy and rapidly gained control of the Mediterranean.
But who were the Etruscans? The Greeks and the Romans regarded them as wealthy pirates, renowned for their luxurious and extravagant lifestyle and for the freedom of their women. Archaeology, however, tells us much more about their daily life and funerary customs, their religious beliefs, their economy, their language, and their technical abilities and artistic tastes.
In this module, you will examine visual and material culture, as well as epigraphic and literary sources, in order to lift the shroud of mystery that often surrounds the Etruscans. You will also place them in the context of the wider Mediterranean world in the 1st millennium BC, examining their exchanges with the Near Eastern kingdoms, their cultural interactions with Greece and the Greek colonial world, and their role in the early history of Rome.
By exploring Etruscan cities and cemeteries from the 9th to the 3rd centuries BC, with their complex infrastructures and technologies, lavish paintings, sculptures and metalwork, you will discover a most advanced civilisation that shared much with the classical cultures and yet was very different from them.
This module is worth 20 credits.
Themes in Near Eastern Prehistory
You will critically examine themes in Near Eastern Prehistory. The themes take you from the development of agriculture, pastoralism and sedentism to the appearance of the first cities, states and writing. Drawing directly from current research, you will use case studies to examine these themes. You will use archaeological evidence to understand how these developments are reflected in social, religious, economic and political organisations of the prehistoric Near East. You will attend weekly lectures and seminars. After appropriate guidance, you will take part in learning activities includes:
- setting readings
- running classroom discussions.
You will receive feedback on these participatory activities. You will write an essay for your formal assessment.
Britain in the Later Roman Empire (c. 250-450)
This module examines Britain in the later-Roman Empire. It is a fascinating period of prosperity, integration, and sophistication. Yet it is also marked by rebellion, civil war, and the sundering of the links that had bound Britain to the continent so deeply for so long.
We will cover from the crisis that marked the middle years of the 3rd century, to the disappearance of Roman power in the early 5th, and the rapid economic collapse and social transformation that followed.
You will take an interdisciplinary approach, combining archaeological and historical evidence, and will be expected to familiarise yourself with a wide range of evidence.
We will examine:
- the political framework of the later-Roman Empire
- the textual and archaeological evidence for Britain’s society and economy
- the barbarian peoples who threatened and interacted with it
- the question of how it ended up leaving the Roman Empire
You will also consider the integration of different types of source material, thinking about Britain’s place in the wider world in a broader context.
This module is worth 20 credits.
The Silk Road: Cultural Interactions and Perceptions
This is a discipline-bridging cross-campus module, involving colleagues from across the School of Humanities.
The Silk Road will be presented as a range of archaeological, historical and scientific themes. Broad cultural themes will be balanced with the presentation of specific case studies, such as:
- The definitions of the Silk Roads
- Byzantine, Islamic and later medieval Silk Roads
- Luxury production
- Trade and exchange from the Roman and later periods
- Ming Dynasty links with the West
Scientific techniques for the analysis of materials, and their role in the interpretation of trade and exchange along the Silk Roads, will also be considered. This could be between, for example, China, central Asia, Scandinavia and the Middle East.
This module is worth 20 credits.
Self, Sign and Society
This module equips students you with the theoretical tools needed to explore how social identity is both asserted and challenged through the deployment of signs broadly conceived. 'Sign' is understood here primarily with reference to Saussurean linguistics, and the impact of the structuralist and then poststructuralist movements on disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, semiotics, postcolonial theory, cultural studies and visual culture.
- How does our accent function as a sign of our class origins or cultural sympathies?
- Does skin colour always function as a social sign?
- How do the clothes we wear align us with particular lifestyles and ideological positions and how is this transgressed?
- How has the phenomenon of self-branding colonised our everyday lives?
- What does our Facebook profile say about how we would like to be read by the wider world? Does the logic of the sign itself exceed what we intend to do with it?
- How do the signs that construct a social 'self' circulate in the context of new media?
- Are there psychological costs associated with living in this society of the sign?
This module will address these and other related questions by introducing students to the approaches of thinkers such as Freud and Lacan, Saussure and Greimas, Barthes and Baudrillard, Levi-Strauss and Geertz, Derrida and Bhabha, and Mirzoeff and Mitchell among others.
Mobility and the Making of Modern Art
New technologies of mobility have long been a defining condition of modernity. It is from this perspective that we will examine modern art while highlighting the interrelated components of movement and speed – mechanized motion, temporality and their political connotations (e.g., social, ideological, artistic trends). This module includes a range of works, mainly paintings, from the mid nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. We will also consider photography and other pre-cinematic forms of moving images such as optical devices, peepshows, and panoramas that added different motion and time to representation. A key question is the role of artists in naturalizing the equation between mobility, modernity, and the West. To this end, our consideration will involve non-Western representations to explore the ideological and economic implications of mobility.
Film and Television Genres
You'll be introduced to the key concepts and theoretical work on specific film genres. Each year, the module investigates a particular genre or cycle such as action cinema, television drama, low-budget film productions and TV movies, and more. Combined with what you have learnt on previous modules, you will look at genre in the context of production and consumption, spending around five hours a week in workshops and seminars.
Auditory Cultures: Sound, Listening and Everyday Life in the Modern World
This module introduces students to the cultural and social role of sound and listening in everyday life. Scholars have argued that, since the Enlightenment, modern societies have privileged sight over the other senses in their desire to know and control the world. But what of hearing? Until recently, the role of sound in everyday life was a neglected field of study. Yet Jonathan Sterne argues that the emergence of new sound media technologies in the nineteenth century - from the stethoscope to the phonograph - amounted to an 'ensoniment' in modern culture in which listening took centre stage.
Beginning with an examination of the relationship between visual and auditory culture in everyday life, this module introduces a variety of cultural contexts in which sound played an important role, including:
- how people interact with the sounds of their cities
- how new sound technologies allowed people to intervene in everyday experience
- why some sounds (such as music) have been valued over others (such as noise)
- the role of sound in making and breaking communities
- the role of sounds in conflict and warfare
- the importance of sound in film and television from the silent era onwards.
We use a variety of sound sources, such as music and archival sound recordings, in order to understand the significance of sound in everyday life from the late eighteenth century to the present.
Gender, Sexuality and Media
Examine how issues of gender and sexuality relate to media and popular culture.
Using the intersectional fields of feminism, queer theory, and media and cultural studies we'll ask some crucial questions such as:
- How are gender and sexuality represented in media and popular culture?
- How do media and cultural industries structure gender and sexual inequalities?
- How are identities and practices of media audiences and users gendered and sexualised?
- How can gender and sexual norms be challenged in creative and radical ways?
This module is worth 20 credits.
Public Cultures: Protest, Participation and Power
Explore the relationship between public space, politics and technology using overlapping and interdisciplinary fields, including:
- cultural studies
- cultural geography
- digital studies
- urban sociology
- cultural politics
You will engage in debates about the changing nature and uses of public space, with an emphasis on urban environments and digital space.
A range of protest movements will also provide case-study material and offer a central focus for your theoretical and practical explorations of the role of new technologies in:
- controlling space
- resisting control
- enabling new forms of civic participation.
This module is worth 20 credits.
Fascism, Spectacle and Display
This module will examine cultural production during Italy’s fascist regime. There will be an emphasis on the experience of visual culture in public settings such as the exhibition space, the cinema, and the built environment. A wide range of cultural artefacts will be examined, paying attention to material as well as visual aspects. Visual material will be situated in the social, cultural and political circumstances of the period. Topics will include: Fascism’s use of spectacle, fascist conceptions of utopia, the regime’s use of the past, the relationship between Fascism and modernism, Fascism as a political religion, the cult of Mussolini, urban-rural relations, and empire building. The module will also consider the afterlife of fascist visual culture and the question of ‘difficult’ heritage.
Art and Science: 1900 to the present
This module explores the influence of scientific disciplines on art production and theory from the early twentieth century to the present day. It will examine how artists have interrogated ideas surrounding objectivity, optics, knowledge, and humanity itself by deploying traditionally scientific methodologies, processes, and epistemologies in the making of visual art. We will consider how the work of artists including the Surrealists, Marcel Duchamp, Marcel Broodthaers, Mark Dion, Joseph Beuys, Susan Hiller, and Marc Quinn has been influenced by the ideas and objects associated with diverse approaches to the material (and immaterial) world, such as astronomy, geology, ethnography, physics, and anthropology.