Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)


Department: Archaeology


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap Location Durham


  • None.


  • Any one of: Scientific Methods in Archaeology 1 (ARCH1041) , Applied Archaeological Methods (ARCH1081) , Ancient Civilisations of the East (ARCH1111), Discovering World Prehistory (ARCH1121), Cities in Antiquity (ARCH1131), Medieval to Modern (ARCH1141), Ancient Civilisations: Sources, Approaches and Methods (ARCH1151) or Historical and Archaeological Methods & Sources (ARCH1161).

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • (1) to provide a wide-ranging introduction to the way archaeologists work, how sites are found and excavated, how archaeological information is generated, theorised and interpreted, and issues facing contemporary archaeology. (2) to provide basic study skills for library work, essay writing, tutorial participation and computing. (3) to provide a brief conspectus of British archaeology by period from the Neolithic to the present day.


  • Introduction to the subject of Archaeology with a focus on Britain
  • Study skills (essay writing and tutorial participation)
  • History of archaeological thought by exploring major developments in each period
  • Excavation and publication
  • Chronologies
  • Theoretical basis of archaeological interpretation
  • Interpreting archaeological evidence relating to environment, settlements, structures and daily life
  • Contemporary issues
  • Illustrated by case studies and three field trips to archaeological sites, including health and safety briefings

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students will have:
  • Gained a basic knowledge of a range of ideas, interpretations and debates that underpin the discipline of archaeology in general and specifically within British archaeology.
  • Developed a broad range of basic knowledge pertaining to (a) archaeological field techniques, (b) the range and methods of interpretation, and (c) the history and development of archaeological thought.
  • Been introduced to a range of historical, methodological and conceptual issues relevant to the subject, principally through secondary literature.
  • Been introduced to a range of archaeological sites and field monuments and the issues associated with their interpretation.
  • Understand the notion of continuity and change and have an understanding of sites in different periods in their landscape context.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Applied transferable skills (detailed below) to archaeologically specific tasks and situations.
  • To develop core recognition and interpretative skills relating to understanding field monuments and landscapes and their links with other archaeological evidence.
Key Skills:
  • Introduction to and participation in undertaking a number of study skills, including essay writing, referencing and the creation of a bibliography.
  • Basic understanding of accessing and using library, online and DUO resources.
  • Basic knowledge of the preparation and effective communication of data, interpretations and arguments.
  • Working to a deadline

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, formative essays, self-guided learning, and a field trip.
  • It is assessed through a 1500 word essay and an unseen examination.
  • Lectures (either delivered live or pre-recorded) 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.
  • A range of engagement and discussion classes will follow a set of pre-recorded or live lectures on each topic.
  • 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.
  • The field trips will last take the equivalent of 2 hours each in tandem with lectures and other classes. Students will tour, virtually or live, a range of archaeological sites and field monuments enabling them to gain an understanding of the archaeological approaches to, and interpretations of, these sites and the material culture at them.
  • 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. The field trips allow students to experience some approaches to archaeological research in the field.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures c. 60 Live on campus OR asynchronous pre-recorded Each c. 20 minutes 20
Synchronous engagement and discussion classes (on campus OR via Zoom) 20 1 per week 1 Hour 20
Tutorials 4 1 Hour 4
Fieldtrip 5 Live OR virtual, each requiring 2 hours engagement 2 Hours 10
Preparation and Reading 146
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
Written examination 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment may include a range of quizzes, short answer tests and other short assignments related to the learning outcomes of the module.

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