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Practical Skills: Experimental Archaeology & Material Culture - ARC00054I

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Gareth Perry
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

This module provides the skills that will enable you to design, undertake and document your own experimental research. Through hands-on practical work at the YEAR Centre you’ll get to grips with a range of material and artefact types, setting and testing hypotheses, and developing your own reference collections.

Related modules

A directed option - students must pick a Practical Skills module and have a choice of which to take (one in Semester 2)

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

The Practical Skills modules seek to introduce you to a range of skills in various diverse areas of archaeological practice and are designed to allow you to gain experience in a 'hands-on' manner.

This specific module aims to:

  • Introduce the theoretical and practical skills required to design, conduct and critique experiments related to material culture
  • Introduce students to the importance of reference collections
  • Provide students with practical training on how to explore the properties of various raw materials and investigate manufacturing processes for select/common artefact types

Module learning outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate an awareness of how to design and execute a practical experiment based on a specific research question relating to material culture
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the manufacturing process and physical properties of at least two different artefact types
  • Demonstrate the ability to develop and document a small reference collection
  • Critically evaluate published experimental research
  • Critically reflect on results from experimental research

Module content

This course introduces students to the theoretical and practical skills required to design, conduct and critique experiments related to material culture. Through lectures, seminars and practical classes, students will develop an awareness of the role that experimental research plays in the archaeological analysis of artefacts.

Working with a variety of materials that are commonly found on archaeological sites (e.g. clay, stone, metal) students will have the opportunity to make a range of artefact types, develop their own reference collections, and undertake functional analysis of common finds. By the end of the module they will have gained the skills that will allow them to plan, carry out and report on their own experimental work.


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

Summative: written feedback within the University's turnaround policy

Indicative reading

Ferguson, J. R. (2010). Designing experimental research in archaeology: Examining technology through production and use. University Press of Colorado.

Mathieu, J. R. & Meyer, D. A. (2012). Experimental Archaeology: Replicating Past Objects, Behaviors, and Processes. Oxford, Archaeopress. BAR International Series, 1023.

Millson, D. 2010. Experimentation and Interpretation : The Use of Experimental Archaeology in the Study of the Past, Oxbow Books.

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.