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Assessed Seminars: Debates in Archaeological Science - ARC00016H

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Jessica Hendy
  • Credit value: 40 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21
    • See module specification for other years: 2019-20

Module summary

This module will explore some of the groundbreaking, topical or controversial topics in archaeological science, for example, the evolution and dispersal of anatomically modern humans, the origins and spread of domestic animals and plants, as well as reconstructions of human diet and disease. With a topic of their choice, students will be expected to dive into some of the debates in the field and lead a seminar on their topic. Students say of this module that they enjoy the opportunities to discuss their topics and work with the module leader and with their peers.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2020-21 to Summer Term 2020-21

Module aims

Assessed Seminars seek to develop an understanding of a specialist topic (particularly a critical understanding of the key themes, approaches and opinions). In doing so students should be able to improve their knowledge of the subject area (through reading and preparation for their own seminar, their seminar contributions and involvement in the seminars) and also have the opportunity to develop their skills in chairing a seminar, presenting material and being involved in discussion (including thinking on their feet about the topic being discussed, how to engage interest in the topic and stimulate debate).

Specifically this module aims to:

  • Raise awareness of the pace of advance in the archaeological sciences and the progressive nature of archaeological science, with research building upon previous investigations, and the extent of discourse between scholars. 

  • Highlight the role of scientific methods within archaeology and the potential (or otherwise) for broadening archaeological discourse.

Module learning outcomes

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

  • demonstrate that they are familiar with the archaeological science literature ad the degree of controversy within the field

  • exhibit a firm understanding of the theoretical, methodological and ethical issues related to the study of archaeological science

  • show familiarity with a range of case studies from different parts of the world and dealing with different time periods

  • demonstrate in depth knowledge of a topic of their choosing

  • pick out the key issues in their chosen topic

  • prepare a worksheet which sets out key reading and issues for presentation, debate and discussion, and support the group in the preparation of the seminar

  • chair a seminar, engage interest in the topic, stimulate debate and structure discussion

  • have a critical awareness of the process of collective debate on a specific topic

  • be able to judge the general 'success' of the seminar, and to be able to reflect on this, through a written summary of a seminar

  • present on other subjects within the general theme and contribute informed ideas and information to the other seminars

Module content

Development of new biomolecular methods is currently opening up new sources of information and controversy about a wide range of archaeological issues across the whole prehistoric and historical time span of archaeological interest. The most interesting issues are those where different scientific methods produce contradictory results or where the scientific results are in conflict with other sources of archaeological information or established preconceptions. How these controversial or ground-breaking results are communicated beyond an academic environment to the wider public is also key to consider. All of this makes for a lively and rapidly developing field of study with a growing number of case studies.

This module will begin with a general lecture describing the structure of the Assessed Seminar. In the two following sessions the module leader will introduce some of the new developments in archaeological science, as well as a smorgasbord of recent ground-breaking and/or controversial research. This should encourage you to think of topics you find interesting that you may like to focus on for your seminar. In the remaining sessions we will hold roundtable discussions on your topics, as well as discuss tips and tricks for running a successful seminar and delivering presentations. 

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Critique
N/A 15
Essay/coursework
Seminar Contribution
N/A 5
Essay/coursework
Seminar Worksheet
N/A 20
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
Chaired Seminar
N/A 20
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
Presentation 1
N/A 20
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
Presentation 2
N/A 20

Special assessment rules

None

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Critique
N/A 15
Essay/coursework
Seminar Worksheet
N/A 20
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
Chaired Seminar
N/A 20
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
Presentation 1
N/A 20
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
Presentation 2
N/A 20

Module feedback

Formative: There will be group discussions and opportunities for one-to-one feedback as you prepare for your summative assessments.

Summative: Assessed Seminar modules are exempt from the University's Policy on Feedback Turnaround Time owing to the nature of this assessment (in that the seminar performance is the subject of your critique).  Marks for all elements of the assessment will be uploaded to your e:vision account (your personal University of York online services account) within four weeks of submission of the final reflective critique. 

Indicative reading

Richards, M. P. et al. (2019) Archaeological Science: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press.

Racimo, F. et al. (2020) ‘Beyond broad strokes: sociocultural insights from the study of ancient genomes’, Nature reviews. Genetics, 21(6), pp. 355–366.

Warren, M. (2019) ‘Move over, DNA: ancient proteins are starting to reveal humanity’s history’, Nature. 570(7762), p. 433.

Detailed reading for the module will be available via YorkShare (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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students