Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)


Department: Archaeology


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • ARCH52760 - Research Topics in Archaeology (Double Module)


  • To develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the current research in a specialised topic in archaeology, chosen from a list of topics representing the main areas of research in the Department.


  • One of the following topics, as available:
  • Palaeolithic Britain in European Context
  • Themes in European Upper Palaeolithic Art and Archaeology
  • Hunters and Gatherers and the transition to agriculture
  • Neolithic Monuments in Atlantic Europe
  • Sedentary Farmers or Homeric Heroes? Understanding the Bronze Age in Britain (c.2500-800 BC)
  • Iron Age Britain in its European Context
  • Environmental Archaeology of the North Atlantic Islands
  • Current Debates in Central Mediterranean Prehistory
  • Topics in the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East
  • Approaches to Cultural Landscapes
  • Archaeology of the Ancient Egyptian State
  • Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam in South Asia
  • Topics in South Asian Archaeology
  • The Gulf and Eastern Arabia
  • Archaeology and Economy
  • The Archaeology of Indian Ocean Commerce in the Islamic Period
  • Aspects of Art and Archaeology in Ancient Greece and Beyond (700-300 BC)
  • Roman Landscapes of the Mediterranean
  • Production, Exchange and consumption in the Roman World
  • Iron Age and Roman Heritage: Barbarism, Civilisation and Frontiers
  • Statuary and Practices: from Pagan to Christian Use
  • Townscapes in North Africa & the Near East
  • Burial and Commemoration, AD400 to 1100
  • Topics in Early Medieval Archaeology of Central Britain
  • Topics in the archaeology of burial practice in Britain, C12th-C19th
  • Topics in the archaeology of urban life in Britain, C12th-C18th
  • Lost Lives, New Worlds; Building biographies of the 1650 Scottish Soldiers
  • Topics in Later Medieval Archaeology: the Countryside
  • Current Geoarchaeological Applications: Reconstructing Human-Animal Relations
  • Advances in Human Bioarchaeology

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Advanced levels of understanding of the materials, data and current state of the field of a particular archaeological research topic.
  • Knowledge of the analytical skills specific to an archaeological research topic.
  • Knowledge of the specialised literature and debates relevant to a specific archaeological research topic.
  • Knowledge of conventions and practices relevant to a specific archaeological research topic.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to master the complexity and diversity of data, both primary and secondary, available for a specific archaeological research topic.
  • Ability to gather primary and secondary data relevant to a specific archaeological research topic.
  • Ability to analyse relevant primary data using appropriate methods and techniques appropriate to a specific archaeological research topic.
  • Ability to evaluate the literature relevant to a specific archaeological research topic.
  • Ability to deploy the conventions and practices appropriate to a specific research topic.
Key Skills:
  • Independent research skills such as bibliographic searching, using of library and online resources.
  • Gathering primary data and secondary sources.
  • Ability to evaluate competing interpretations in the literature.
  • Ability to manage time and self-assess.
  • Ability to present research, evaluations, and findings coherently.

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

  • Core content is delivered through instructor-led lectures also attended by Level 3 undergraduates, and a mixture of instructor-led and student-led tutorials/seminar classes dedicated to Level 4 (PGT) students.
  • Instructor-led tutorials/seminar classes are small group learning environments which are interactive. They can: go over material from lectures; explain and discuss complex interpretations, theories and ideas; share opinions on set readings; or discuss a case study in depth.
  • Student-led tutorials/seminars can: require students to present to the group on essay topics, readings or case studies.
  • Lectures, instructor-led seminars and reading lists initiate students into various topics and provide guidance for them on readings, including archaeological reports, synthetic and theoretical literature.
  • There is an emphasis on developing critical reading through seminar discussion, but also on independent exploration and reading, aimed at building the critical appraisal and independent research skills in the intended learning outcomes.
  • Summative assignments assess the grasp of material and ideas covered in the courses, ability to describe material, formulate problems and explain issues clearly in writing, evidence of critical and inquisitive thinking, and development of independent research and reading.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 9 Normally weekly 1 hour 9
Tutorials 10 Normally weekly 1 hour 10
Preparation and Reading 281
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment 1 Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2,000 words 100% Yes
Component: Assignment 2 Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3,000 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

In-class presentation with formal feedback from option leader on the summative essay topic.

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