Accessibility statement

Medieval Settlement & Communities - ARC00028M

« Back to module search

  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Aleksandra McClain
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

This module explores the relationships between people, the places they lived, and the institutions they interacted with in the later Middle Ages. Based primarily around archaeological and historical evidence from urban and rural settlements, landscapes, and buildings from across Britain, this class will discuss the material dimensions of society, community, belief, and identity in the medieval period.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

This module aims:

  • to develop an understanding of the wide range of settlements, habitations and environments apparent in the archaeological data for the late medieval period.
  • to tackle some of the main interpretative debates within the subject area, which encompass a diversity of theoretical perspectives.
  • to highlight the relationship between subsurface archaeology, landscape, buildings, and society.

Module learning outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate critical engagement with the issues relating to the study and interpretation of both urban and rural medieval settlement forms.
  • Critically evaluate the importance of spatial organisation at all levels, from within the buildings to the settlements and their wider landscape contexts
  • Demonstrate originality in addressing questions about the inhabitation of medieval buildings and landscapes, and the lived experience of a wide range of medieval people and social groups.
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the relationships between religious belief, the institutional Church, and daily life in medieval settlements.
  • Convey complex ideas in an analytical framework through essay writing

Module content

This module explores the inhabitation of medieval England and the material dimensions of everyday life. The core content of the module will be based around examinations of the places and spaces in which medieval communities lived, worked, played and worshipped. We will be interested not only in the creation, development, and use of settlements and key types of medieval buildings, but also in the relationships between people and the natural and human-made environments. How did particular landscapes influence the forms of different sorts of settlement? What impact did they have on the ways in which people could earn their living? What kinds of communities resulted? What social identities became important to people in relation to where and how they lived? What was the role of religion and belief, at both an institutional and personal level? How can archaeologists study these subjects, using documentary sources, survey and excavation, spatial analysis, and the study of buildings, artefacts, and environmental data?


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Formative: written feedback from module leaders OR oral feedback from module leaders in class

Summative: written feedback within the University's turnaround policy

Indicative reading

Gilchrist, R. 2012. Medieval Life: Archaeology and the Life Course, Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer.

Lewis, C., Dyer, C., and Mitchell-Fox, P, 2001. Village, Hamlet and Field: Changing Medieval Settlements in Central England, Macclesfield: Windgather Press.

Williamson, T. 2004. Shaping Medieval Landscapes: Settlement, Society, Environment, Macclesfield: Windgather Press.

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.