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World Archaeology: Settlements and Society - ARC00071I

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Stella Basinyi
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

This module takes you on a journey through time and space, exploring ancient societies from across the world. The module explores forms of settlement from hunter-gatherer camps to contemporary cities through the lens of archaeology, focusing on the ways that humans have organised themselves in space. Each week we will visit a different society, exploring a range of scales from households to townscapes. These will be illustrated through some of the world’s most amazing excavations which give us a window into settlement and society for that place and time.

Related modules

A directed option - students must pick one World Archaeology module and have a choice of which to take.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

The World Archaeology Modules seek to expose the students to the diversity of World Archaeology through an in depth review of a range of topics.

The specific aims of this option are:

  • To explore aspects of settlement and society from across the world via a review and discussion of a wide range of archaeological sites and landscapes
  • To introduce students to some of the most iconic excavations and survey projects from different time periods and places
  • To consider how archaeologists reconstruct aspects of settlement and society through comprehensive and comparative analysis of excavation and survey data

Module learning outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate an understanding of how people have lived and worked in a wide range of places and times from prehistory to the modern period
  • Describe and comment upon the characteristics of a number of archaeological sites and the societal reconstructions they have produced
  • Appreciate the value of a comparative approach to human settlement
  • Critical evaluate the diversity of human spatial practice in different places and times

Module content

This module will explore forms of settlement from across the world, ranging across countries and time periods. The spatial organisation of a society, from household to site to landscape, can tell us much about its character and the identity of the individuals and groups that made it up. We will explore a range of sites from the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa, offering regional comparisons and drawing out some of the key features of settlement in those areas. Each week we will visit a particular society, discussing some of the iconic projects by which their archaeology is known.

Within this context it is possible to explore the current evidence and debates concerning settlement and society including: social organisation and religion, the environment, identity and kinship, militarism, technology and craftworking, urbanism and infrastructure. The ways we think about these concepts have been shaped by the character of archaeology in different regions and we will explore this through critical discussion of different traditions of research. The module will therefore introduce you to some of the context of archaeological research, including themes of colonialism and power, changing methodologies of excavation, and different regional and national traditions of research. Each lecture of this module will introduce large-scale research projects which have set the agenda for how we understand the human past. This will form the basis for thinking about new directions and research questions.


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

Funari, P.P.A., Carvalho, A. (2014). Global Archaeology. In: Smith, C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. Springer, New York, NY.

Joyce, R.A. and S.D. Gillespie 2000. Beyond Kinship: Social and Material Reproduction in House Societies.Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Creekmore, A. and K. Fisher 2014. Making Ancient Cities: Space and Place in Early Urban Societies. Cambridge: CUP.

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.