Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)


Department: Archaeology


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2018/19 Module Cap Location Durham


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to world prehistory from the emergence of humankind down to the rise of early states.


  • The module provides an introduction to world prehistory, charting a selection of the major phases, developments and processes of prehistory, from the earliest tool-making "humans" in Africa down to the rise of the major states and empires, when literacy and recorded history became established. Teaching concentrates on the Old World (i.e. Europe, Africa and Asia) but also covers material from other parts of the globe in order to foster an appreciation of the differing ways in which humankind has developed in technological, socio-cultural and ideological terms. The content is divided into several chronological blocks, dealing with some or all of the following themes*:
  • Becoming Human: the Palaeolithic Period from our earliest tool making ancestors to the rise of modern humans
  • Towards Productive Societies: from foraging to farming
  • New Narratives of Power: metallurgy and cultural change
  • The Rise of European States: from the Iron Age to Rome
  • *from time to time, we may cover different topics or themes of comparable and compatible nature

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students will have:
  • Grasped the general outline/frameworks of world prehistory;
  • Understood the contribution of archaeological evidence to the study of early human societies;
  • Gained a familiarity with the major themes of prehistoric study;
  • Understood how interpretations are developed from archaeological remains.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • This module enables students to gain experience of the methods of prehistoric archaeology and an understanding of the interpretation of prehistoric artefacts and other materials, principally through essay writing and tutorials.
Key Skills:
  • This module helps students to gain direct experience and competence in a range of transferable skills, e.g., using a variety of electronic and library resources.

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

  • The module is taught through a combination of lectures, class tests, tutorials, a formative essay and self-guided learning.
  • It is assessed through an essay and an unseen examination.
  • Lectures will ensure the effective communication of key information and theoretical ideas, supported by reading lists and written summaries of follow-up notes posted on DUO, enabling students to gain up-to-date knowledge, as well as guidance on further reading.
  • Tutorials will focus on discussion and feedback between tutors and students in small groups, in a relatively informal learning environment, enabling students to enhance, discuss, question and receive feedback on their knowledge and to gain experience in oral communication and collaborative group-work.
  • Self-guided learning comprises personal study, research, revision and evaluation associated with classes and assignments; guided by lecturers, tutors and reading lists of specialist books, articles and web-sites.
  • Research is embedded into the teaching of this module through the expertise of the lecturers and tutors. The examples and topics chosen within the curriculum will derive from the specialist research interests of the staff teaching the module, and students are introduced to the results of the research of their teachers as well as the wider context of the subject.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 1-2 Per Week 1 Hour 21
Tutorials 3 1 Per Term 1 Hour 3
Revision Workshop 1 2 in Third Term 1 Hour 1
Preparation and Reading 175
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 33%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1500 words 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 67%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

One computer-assessed test and one essay of 1000 words.

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