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Team Project: Biomolecular Archaeology - ARC00029I

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Sophy Charlton
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23
    • See module specification for other years: 2021-22

Module summary

The Team Project gives students the opportunity to collect and analyse published stable isotope data from a particular geographic area and time period in order to answer a key research question related to past diet and economy. You will use the skills developed during your Practical Skills Module to analyse and interpret data you have collected by plotting data and conducting statistical analysis, writing up your findings in a journal article format.

Students have produced some impressive articles on this module of near publication quality and explored themes such as access to food by status and sex, the transition to farming and coastal economies in both the historic and prehistoric periods.

Students have said that team project was a really good way to implement content from the practical skills module, and was fun. They also said that it made a nice change to work with peers rather than independently.

Related modules

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Prohibited combinations

  • None

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Summer Term 2022-23

Module aims

Building upon the practical option that you took in the Spring term (Term 5), Team Projects allows you to practice the subject-specific skills that you learnt over that period. The module will split students into teams to analyse and evaluate a dataset or case study with the overall aim of producing a report to professional standards on the material they have examined.

This specific module aims to:

  • To provide experience in working as a team on a shared project

  • To build skills in the recording, analysis and interpretation of biomolecular data

  • To train, through practice, the skills necessary to the production of a professional-standard archaeological report.

Module learning outcomes

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

  • Be aware how biomolecular methods can be applied to archaeological deposits
  • Assess the scope and limitations of bimolecular methods under a range of conditions
  • Match analytical methods and results to research aims and objectives
  • Allocate and co-ordinate tasks, and communicate efficiently as a team
  • Produce a group report to a professional standard

Module content

This module follows on from the practical option in the Spring term and allows students to practice the subject specific skills that they learnt over that period. The class will be split into groups and you will be given a task to collate and interpret molecular data.

The first half of term will be focussed on data collection, with teams building a database of isotope data from their allocated areas and time periods, following a brief provided. This task will be done independently, but with the module leader available for support and advice in the weekly meetings.

The second half will involve the independent analysis and interpretation of data. Team members will allocate tasks, which will involve data visualisation and conducting statistical analysis. Results will be presented in a professional report formatted as a journal article summarising the data collection activities, results and interpretations.

Indicative assessment

Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Indicative reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Formative: Groups keep logbooks of work carried out and discuss progress with their module leader each week.

Summative: Written feedback sheets will be released within 20 working days of the submission deadline, along with your overall mark for the module. If you have any questions about your mark and/or your written feedback, you will be able to sign up for office hours with the marker.

Indicative reading

Brown, T. A., and Brown, Keri. Biomolecular Archaeology. Malden, MA ; Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.

Richards, M. P. (2020) “Isotope Analysis for Diet Studies,” in Richards, M. P. and Britton, K. (eds) Archaeological Science: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Hendy, J., van Doorn, N. and Collins, M. (2020) “Proteomics,” in Richards, M. P. and Britton, K. (eds) Archaeological Science: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 35–69. doi: 10.1017/9781139013826.003.

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 constantly explores 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. In some instances it may be appropriate for the University to notify and consult with affected students about module changes in accordance with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.