Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)


Department: Archaeology


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap None.


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • 'Bones and Human Society' (ARCH3461)


  • To enable students to gain an intensive practically-based study of animal remains in archaeology, specifically covering the important mammalian taxa commonly recovered from archaeological sites (i.e. mammals, including humans.)
  • To explore the principal analytical approaches to the study of these datasets and furnish students with a firm grounding in their recording, analysis and interpretation.


  • Practicals will start with an introductory lecture followed by supervised group work within laboratories. The practical programme will cover the following subject areas:
  • 1. Introduction to comparative vertebrate anatomy
  • 2. Identifying mammal bones
  • 3. Distinguishing mammals from bird and fish remains
  • 4. Recognizing non-metrical traits and bone pathology
  • 5. Ageing vertebrate remains
  • 6. Biometry: why and how to measure animal remains
  • 7. Establishing sex from bones.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of this module students will be able to:
  • Understand contemporary professional principles and good practice relating to zoo-archaeology and its broader context within archaeology;
  • Understand the potential and limitations of bioarchaeological data;
  • Understand the role of zoo-archaeological material in reconstructing past human behaviour and adaptation;
  • Understand the debates relating to current major international themes and issues within the discipline of zoo-archaeology.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • At the end of this module students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the range of mammalian materials recovered from archaeological sites;
  • Recognise and identify the bones of carnivores, birds and fish recovered from zooarchaeological assemblages, though not to identify them to species;
  • Record and quantify zooarchaeological material;
  • Handle and analyse large computer datasets, and to interpret the results;
  • Use a comparative collection to identify the main skeletal elements in the skeletons of the large domestic and wild animals of NW Europe, principally cow, horse, pig, sheep/goat, red deer, and roe deer;
  • Integrate the different datasets into models of human behaviour.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate a range of communication skills including the ability to synthesize and evaluate information obtained from a variety of sources (e.g. primary datasets, written secondary sources, oral and web sources); communicate relevant information in different ways (e.g. written, oral, tables and graphs) and select the most appropriate method of communication for the presentation of interpretation and analyses.
  • Demonstrate a range of numerical skills including the ability to read graphs, tables, charts; to organise date; to make inferences from data; to reflect upon the potential and limitations of numerical skills.
  • Demonstrate competence in the use of IT resources (egg word processing, statistical software, web-based resources).
  • Demonstrate the ability to relate experience of a field of research to professional practice.
  • Demonstrate a capacity to improve one’s own learning and performance, including the ability to manage time effectively, to work to prescribed deadlines and within a laboratory environment, to engage in different ways of learning including independent and directed forms of learning, to gather the necessary information from primary data sets, bibliographic and electronic resources, to seek and use feedback from academic staff, to monitor and critically reflect upon the learning process.

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

  • Demonstrations introduce the subject and theme of each practical and highlight published case studies related to them.
  • Practicals introduce students to the range of zooarchaeological material and modes of data analysis.
  • Group practicals give students the opportunity to improve personal laboratory and analysis skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 1 Introductory 2 2
Practicals 19 Weekly 2 38
Id tests 2 Termly 1.5 3
Practical preparation and reading 257
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Identification and recording test Component Weighting: 33.4%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Identification and recording tests 3 Hours 100%
Component: Analytical Exercise and interpretative report Component Weighting: 33.3%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Analytical Exercise and interpretative report 2500 Words 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 33.3%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative essay 2500 Words 100%

Formative Assessment:

This will be the keeping of a laboratory notebook that will be checked regularly by the course convenor. A formative assessment will be made of the laboratory notebook at the end of Michaelmas term.

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