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Special Topic: Human Evolution - ARC00052H

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Penny Spikins
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2018-19

Module summary

Although archaeology studies people as cultural entities, our highly-developed social and cultural activities are a reflection of what makes us human; of our characteristics as a species. The study of human evolution thus seeks to address some basic questions concerning our origins as a biological species and the emergence of those social and cultural traits.

In this module, we start at the beginning, with our evolutionary ancestry as primates, and follow the course of human anatomical, social and cognitive evolution to the origins of our own species and the relevance of human evolution to modern debates.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2018-19

Module aims

This module enables students to study the origins and variation of the human species in small-group seminars that encourage close engagement with primary source material and critical discussion of the principles and methods involved.

Module learning outcomes

In completing this module, you will:

  • have an understanding of the key theories and debates concerning the origins of our species
  • have a detailed knowledge of the history of research into the study of human evolution, both physical and cultural
  • have a critical awareness of the limitations of the dataset
  • be able to evaluate different lines of evidence and consider different temporal scales
  • have prepared formal contribution to two seminars, and engaged in discussion at the others
  • have consolidated understanding generated in the course through formative essay-writing.


Task Length % of module mark
3000 Word Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
3000 Word Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Arrangements for the return of feedback are detailed on the formative and summative assessment web pages.

Indicative reading

Reading is published on the module web pages.

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.

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