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Exploring Archaeology - ARC00011C

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Eva Mol
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

This module will teach you how archaeologists in a broad way deal with archaeological heritage: what we can learn from the past and which stories we want and need to tell. Each week, a different part of York’s archaeological heritage will be explored on-site and critically examined in order to learn about the many ways we can use archaeology to ask questions about the human past and present.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

This module aims to:

  • Introduce different ways that archaeologists deal with heritage
  • Provide a historical overview of the archaeology in the city of York
  • Inspire students to think critically about how different people engage with the past and with archaeology

Module learning outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate an awareness of the different archaeological and historical periods represented in York and how traces of these periods form part of the current urban and rural landscape
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how the past is used in the present in relation to the York’s urban landscape
  • Critically evaluate the difference between material (tangible) and immaterial (intangible) heritage and the methods to value, visualise and analyse these
  • Describe and comment upon what public and community archaeology are and how they are used to engage different audiences
  • Make judgements and to frame appropriate questions on the ethics involved with archaeological and cultural heritage including how heritage is created both from academic and non-academic perspectives

Module content

Archaeology is the study of the ancient and recent human past through material remains. However, there are myriad ways to do this. This module will introduce you to how archaeologists engage with archaeological heritage: what we can learn from the past and which stories we want and need to tell, and how the past is used in the present in shaping the future of the city. We use York as an archaeological and historical laboratory, each week a different part of York will be highlighted during a lecture and a site-visit. This includes York’s rich heritage from castles, evidence of the Vikings, to the Shambles. Each of these cases pose us with specific archaeological and heritage challenges, different ways of looking, and evoke numerous critical debates on the role of heritage. For example, is the Shambles a tourist trap? How can we include our forgotten heritage of colonial impact or evidence of the lower classes? Should we bring back Roman York? Are ghosts and their stories heritage? and what can we learn from our own Departmental base at King’s Manor? All these questions will give you more knowledge about the relevance of archaeology and heritage. This critical engagement with the past will culminate in the design of your very own York heritage trail. Which stories do you think are in need of telling?


Task Length % of module mark
Presentation or written : Heritage interpretation trail
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Students can submit their summative heritage interpretation trail including critical reflection as either: a pre-recorded 5 minute presentation OR 1000 word written assessment.


Task Length % of module mark
Presentation or written : Heritage interpretation trail
N/A 100

Module feedback

Formative: written feedback from module leader

Summative: written feedback within the University's turnaround policy

Indicative reading

Carman, J., 2003. Archaeology and Heritage: An Introduction, London, University of Leicester, Continuum.

Harrison, R., et al. 2020. Heritage Futures, Comparative Approaches to Natural and Cultural Heritage Practices, London, UCL University Press.

Holtorf, C., and A. Hogberg (eds.), 2021. Cultural Heritage and the Future, London and New York, Routledge.

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.