Archaeology of Human Evolution

Module code: AR2605

When did early humans start to walk on two legs? What were the earliest stone tools? What do 30,000 year old cave paintings mean? And how did brains, language and consciousness develop? These are just a few of the fascinating questions we will explore in this level two module, which covers the global record of human evolution from 7 million to 12 thousand years ago. The overarching aim is for students to achieve a sound understanding of human evolution and its interdisciplinary basis, to develop the skills in analytical and critical thinking, and confidence in communication and presentation.

Students who take this module will be able to consider the many lines of evidence which contribute to our understanding of this period (including fossil anatomy, geochronology, landscape change and ancient DNA), with a primary focus on archaeological evidence and cultural change. Students will be introduced to theories underpinning the study of human evolution, including evolutionary theory, adaptive ecological strategies, behavioural and biological change. Much of the emphasis will be on the Old World, although the global dispersal of humans will also be covered including the colonisation of the Americas and Australasia.

The teaching methods are diverse, interactive and delivered via our Virtual Learning Environment. There will be lectures, directed and independent reading and online exercises. There will be a strong practical focus on technology and anatomical change which links into the first assessment in which you will design an experiment. For example, you might devise a method for analysing stone age glue or paint. The second assessed piece of work will be an essay on a topic relating to human evolution.
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