Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)


Department: Archaeology


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2018/19 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Discovering World Prehistory (ARCH1121) OR Cities in Antiquity (ARCH1131) OR Archaeology in Britain (ARCH1071).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To enable students to gain a broad understanding of (a) the archaeological information about the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Copper Age and Bronze Age in Europe.
  • and (b) current theories and debates regarding this evidence.


  • This module provides a basic account of the main developments in the evolution of human societies, from the Palaeolithic to the Bronze Age.
  • The teaching is divided by term into:
  • Term 1 - Palaeolithic and Mesolithic, and
  • Term 2 - the emergence of farming and the development of social complexity.
  • The course builds upon the basic knowledge gained in Level 1 courses such as DWP, but places emphasis on broad thematic treatment of key topics across long-term sequences of change.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the module, the student will have: Made a significant improvement in critical awareness of evidence and issues.
  • Enhanced their ability to integrate evidence from a wide range of sources.
  • Gained a sound understanding of the processes of cultural change in prehistoric Europe, from Palaeolithic to Bronze Age.
  • Gained a deeper understanding of the evolution of social complexity found in Europe before and after the onset of farming.
  • Improved skills in the understanding of long-term sequences of change through the use of a thematic framework.
  • Developed further skills in the inter-regional comparative approach.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • This module enables students to develop a range of critical analytical and interpretive skills pertaining to prehistoric archaeological methods and materials, primarily achieved through the production of critical essays.
Key Skills:
  • This module allows students to develop existing skills and enhance their competence in a wide range of transferable skills, including skills in assimilating, investigating and criticising complex data and interpretations.

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

  • The module is mostly taught through lectures, which will ensure the effective communication of key information and theoretical ideas.
  • The computer tests will be introduced in tutorials held at the end of each term.
  • A short answer section of the exam will test students' grasp of critical information, whilst an unseen essay will test their ability to evaluate current ideas and debates.
  • students' abilities to analyse data and place it in a wider framework of understanding will be assessed by the evidence-based essay.
  • 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. The module also enables students to explore how archaeologists produce evidence about the past, develop theories to explain it, and how archaeological evidence may subsequently be reinterpreted.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 Per Week 1.5-2 Hours 34
Preparation and Reading 166
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Assessed essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
3000 word essay 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

One formative essay plan in Term 1; one computer test in term 2.

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