Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)


Department: Anthropology


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2012/13 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Two modules from the following: Political and Economic Organisation (ANTH2051) OR Kinship and Belief Systems (ANTH2041) OR Archaeology of Britain (ARCH) AND Scientific Methods in Archaeology (ARCH1041) OR Archaeology of Britain (ARCH) AND Principles of Archaeological Science (ARCH). Prerequisite for Human Sciences students: completion of Level 2 BSc Human Sciences OR BSc Health and Human Sciences OR Level 2 BA.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide students with an advanced understanding of the significance of hunter-gatherer communities in human social evolution and in the contemporary world.
  • To integrate archaeological and anthropological study, with particular reference to issues and methods that are common to both disciplines.


  • Lectures: Is hunting and gathering as distinctive mode of subsistence? The intellectual history of hunter-gatherer studies. Resource ecology. Reciprocity and co-operation in modern hunter-gatherers and the evidence for social behaviour in the Palaeolithic. The evolution of culture. Hunter-gatherer politics and the concepts of immediate and delayed return. The transition between hunting and gathering, and farming. Hunter-gatherer/farmer interaction. Hunter-gatherers in the modern world.
  • Debates: '"Hunting and gathering" is an artifical category', 'Archaeology is nothing more than the anthropology of the past', 'Hunters and gatherers are naturally egaliterian/agricultural was an inevitable result of human progress', 'Hunters and gatherers are doomed to extinction'.
  • Student-led open discussion sessions.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Factual material: Understanding the evolution of hunting and gathering as a way of life.
  • A comprehensive knowledge of current theories concerning hunter-gatherer society and economy.
  • A critical appreciation of the contexts and methods by which hunter-gatherers survive in the modern world.
  • An understanding of how archaeological and anthropological theory and method can be integrated to gain a fuller appreciation of hunter-gatherer society.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will have: the ability to synthesise archaeological and anthropological approaches and insights.
  • Advanced knowledge of current debates in anthropology and archaeology.
  • Applied transferable skills (detailed below) to archaeologically specific tasks and situations.
Key Skills:
  • Independent study and research.
  • Sampling, collection and analysis of complext secondary data.
  • The preparation and effective communication of data, methods, interpretations and arguments.

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

  • The formal components of the module use a range of teaching modes and methods, within an integrated framework to contribute to the intended learning outcomes as listed above.
  • The module benefits from a balance between lectures and debates, geared to the specific needs of the material.
  • The lectures and debates are carefully integrated.
  • Audio-visual aids (video, sound, slides, powerpoint etc.) are used where appropriate.
  • The informal components of the module utilise a variety of methods, including e-mail discussion groups, debates and associated oral discussions.
  • Lectures will cover topics relevant for providing students with an understanding of theories currently available for the study of hunters and gatherers.
  • Lectures provide a traditional method of communicating not only fact but clear understandings of process and the relationship between issues.
  • They are used for the primary delivery of material on hunters and gatherers because they allow clear transmission of information in an active learning environment where students can question and seek clarification.
  • Lectures introduce students to issues, structure the subject matter and provide a grounding in principal issues so they can progress to further learning and study.
  • Lectures provide the framework for analysis and relevant background, theoretical and/or historical information, and are used to assist in the assimilation of technically demanding or conceptually difficult material.
  • Students are expected to attend the weekly lectures.
  • They are required to attend the the debates.
  • They are also required to make presentations in debates.
  • Debates provide an opportunity for students to discuss a series of topics and to make oral presentations.
  • Difficult, sensitive and unresolved issues can all be approached successfully through discussion in debates.
  • Debates will cover topics relevant to the content of the module.
  • Seminars imply a higher degree of student involvement and teach subject-specific and generic skills.
  • For anthropology and archaeology students this medium cannot simply be replaced by texts or websites, though both are important adjuncts.
  • The summative essay test skills of understanding, analysis, information collection and presentation, while final written examinations test assimilated knowledge and understanding and the ability to write succinctly and analytically at short notice.
  • Students are required to submit an essay, based on debating presentations, of 2000 words, which will contribute 34% towards the total mark for the module.
  • The remaining 66% comes from a two-hour examination in May/June.
  • Formative assessment takes place on a regular basis and may be regarded an integral part of the day-to-day teaching process.
  • Formative feedback is given on Summative Essays as well as on debating presentations, including a one page written handout for distribution in class, scheduled at appropriate times.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 19 1 per week 1 hour 19
Seminars (Debates) and Discussion Sessions 6 4 debates distributed evenly through the first two terms and 2 student led open discussion sessions in the 3rd term 1 hour 6
Preparation and Reading 175
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 66%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written examination 2 hours 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 34%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Feedback on summative essays. Feedback on one debate presentation (including written handout), scheduled at appropriate times.

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