Archaeological theory

Module code: AR2601 

What was gender like in the past? How are politics and the past entwined? How was the past different from the present? How can archaeology help us think differently about the present? These are some of the key questions posed by this exciting module, which will make you think about precisely how and why we study archaeology. How do we go from a small pile of pot sherds to a model of a whole civilisation? How can we understand a discipline like archaeology that involves everything from physics to hardcore philosophy? This module is not just about the past, but how we think critically about the past in order to transform the way we understand the present.

We will cover the history of archaeological thought and look at some of the current debates in the discipline. You will discover how material things are more than simply functional objects but actually part of the way we become human; how different complex and multiple kinds of gender can exist; and how identity can be fluid and changing depending on the context in which people find themselves. Ranging from evolutionary biology to phenomenological philosophy, this module challenges and transforms the understandings we have of both past and present.

Learning material for this module includes recorded lectures, guided readings and podcasts delivered through our virtual learning environment. The materials are designed by staff engaging in these questions in their research on a daily basis, and who publish on the topics we will be debating. You will have two assessment periods for the module. In the first, halfway through the module, you’ll answer a series of short answer questions. In the second assessment period, at the end of the module, you will write an essay. You can choose the question you’re most interested in from a list we provide.

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