Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)


Department: Archaeology


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2007/08


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide students with a broad theoretical knowledge of the key topics which form the basis of the research themes of the new University Research Centre for Past Peoples and Palaeoenvironments (CP3). These are associated with the complex interaction of human culture, behaviour and the environment
  • The approach taken will be based on critical problem-solving which stimulates students to challenge received wisdom.


  • An introductory lecture will outline the theory, method and practice in human palaeoecology and how it relates to the MSc in Human Palaeoecology.
  • The module will then consist of paired lectures and workshops, where the lecture will introduce the research theme and then stimulate the student-lead workshops the following week. The themes include:
  • Theme 1 Dispersals and diasporas
  • Theme 2 Environmental impact of human colonisation and settlement
  • Theme 3 Palaeoeconomy and dietary reconstruction
  • Theme 4 Human health and environment.
  • Theme 5 Human-environment interaction

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Familiarity and understanding of the four key research themes of CP3 namely:
  • 1. Environmental impact and change.
  • 2. Dispersals and diasporas
  • 3. Palaeoeconomy and diet
  • 4. Human health and environment
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to critically evaluate the palaeoecological evidence for 1) human impact upon the environment (and vice-versa), 2) human dispersal around the globe, 3) human diet and economy, human health and the environment.
  • Ability to integrate this evidence into theories of human land-use, reconstructing prehistoric hunter-gatherer, farmer and more complex urban context.
  • Ability to consider the future application and development of palaeoecological studies for testing environmental evidence for culture change and considering the relevance of these issues to current and future decision making processes.
Key Skills:
  • Students will learn critical approaches to data interpretation, should be able to express themselves clearly and concisely when presenting complex arguments and understand why particular issues are important or controversial within a research topic.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Modes of Teaching and Learning:
  • - Lectures introduce students to broad subject knowledge encapsulated in the key themes outlined previously. They will explore in some depth the complex and interdisciplinary nature of the field of human palaeoecology.
  • - Workshops will explore each of the key themes in turn. Students will explore and evaluate the disparate lines of evidence using of a series of pre-assigned case studies which will help to focus upon and develop in-depth critical issues of interpretation.
  • Modes of Assessment:
  • - Two Summative essays corresponding to the key themes outlined above. The student can choose which of the two themes they wish to pursue but will receive an introductory grounding in each of the themes.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 6 bi-weekly 2 12
Tutorials 4 bi-weekly 2 8
Preparation and Reading 280
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2500 words 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2500 words 100%

Formative Assessment:


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University