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Critical Approaches to Archaeology and Heritage


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: Professor Jennifer Baird
  • Assessment: a 1000-word presentation (25%) and 4000-word research essay (75%)

Module description

In this module, you will become familiar with the key approaches to archaeology and heritage: the means through which we understand sites and artefacts from the past, and how that knowledge is grounded in the present.

The module syllabus is based around crucial themes each week, including context, time, assemblage and landscape. We will investigate those themes through case studies which relate to prehistoric, historic and classical archaeology, which are selected to bring out the importance of methodological insights and skills transferable across disciplinary boundaries.

Through guided reading, seminars and student-led presentations, you will develop your capacity for independent, interdisciplinary and innovative research in the field; assessment topics are tailored to ensure they serve your individual academic and career goals.

Indicative syllabus

  • What is archaeology?
  • What is heritage?
  • Context
  • Time
  • Material culture
  • Archives
  • Landscapes
  • Ecologies
  • Communities
  • Architecture
  • Values

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • identify, and classify, a broad range of artefacts, sites, and landscapes
  • explain the historical meaning of formal artefact categories and assemblages
  • demonstrate an awareness of the intellectual history of archaeology and heritage studies, and their disciplinary epistemological constraints
  • engage critically with the main models and conceptual arguments in archaeology and critical heritage studies
  • formulate historical hypothesis based on creative, rigorous, investigation of evidence
  • assess the appropriateness, and relative merit, of competing approaches to the historical explication of material culture, architecture, landscapes and heritage
  • recognise the comparative context of archaeological interpretation, and its value to other modes of interpretation.