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Prehistory to the Present - ARC00001C

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Steph Piper
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

This module will provide an overview of the main chronological phases in the study of archaeology. It will cover the whole span from the emergence of humans to the use of archaeology to study the contemporary world. The key events and dates will form the chronological framework that underpins the rest of your degree.

Different members of staff will introduce you to the key types of archaeological evidence and the main environmental, cultural, economic and social processes that operate in each period. A series of case studies will exemplify how our knowledge has been gained through archaeological investigation.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2022-23

Module aims

The main aims of the module are:

  • To give students a basic understanding of the major chronological phases of the human past, from early prehistory through to the modern and industrial periods.
  • To introduce students to key archaeological discoveries from each period, and relate these findings to overarching cultural and social contexts.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • a basic understanding of the major chronological phases of world archaeology, from early prehistory through to the modern and industrial periods
  • an awareness of the types of evidence archaeologists study, and the processes we can infer from that material
  • a greater appreciation of the depth of chronology and the breadth of evidence that exists in the archaeological record.

Module content

The module will cover prehistory in the first four weeks and historical archaeology in the second four weeks. The prehistoric periods covered will be the Early and Late Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age, along with case studies of Star Carr and Covesea. Historical periods will be Roman Britain, the Anglo-Saxons, the Viking period, later Medieval, historical (early modern) and contemporary, with case studies of Malton and Heslington Roman sites, and Gawthorpe Hall and Breary Banks for the early modern period.

In addition to this, we will introduce you to eight prehistoric and historical individuals each week who have been researched by archaeologists that you will be expected to investigate in more depth. As well as being fascinating people in their own right, they illustrate deeper aspects of how archaeology can reveal new (and sometimes surprising) knowledge about the past.


Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam - 24 hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Online Exam
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
1500 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

You will receive feedback on all assessed work within 20 working days of the submission date. 

Indicative reading

Hunter, J and Ralston, I (ed.) (2009) The archaeology of Britain, 2nd edition. London: Routledge.


Schofield, J (ed.) (2011) Great excavations: shaping the archaeological profession. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Please note: Detailed reading for the module will be available via YorkShare VLE (the University's virtual learning environment). When you have enrolled on a module, you will be able to access the full reading list.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.