Accessibility statement

Interpreting Historical Archaeology - ARC00073I

« Back to module search

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

Module summary

The Interpreting Historical Archaeology module allows students to begin to engage in more detail with different time periods and cultural contexts within the historical era. The module gives students the opportunity to explore a range of historical societies while keeping in mind a selection of key themes which run consistently across each teaching block. Students will be asked to think critically about how each theme is materially manifested in the various time periods, and will make links between themes within and across different time periods.

Related modules

A directed option - students must pick which Interpreting module to take, either Interpreting Prehistory OR Interpreting Historical Archaeology

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

This module should:

  • Provide students with a more in-depth understanding of the historical past, defined as periods in which societies had writing and documentation.

  • Make links between a range of historical time periods through an examination of a series of important archaeological themes.

Module learning outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate a broad and comparative understanding of historical archaeology
  • Demonstrate an ability to deploy accurately established techniques of enquiry within the discipline, constructing an in-depth critical argument that links evidence and themes across the periods they have studied
  • Communicate complex ideas and arguments through essay writing

Module content

This module is divided up into three blocks of teaching which are period- or context-based, each taught by a member of staff expert in that subject. The blocks may change from year to year, and periods of study could include Roman, Early Medieval, Late Medieval, Early Modern, and Contemporary societies within Europe or further afield. In each block, a selection of key themes will be explored through lectures and interactive discussion, and these themes will remain consistent across the time period blocks. This approach allows students to examine how the meanings and material expression of different aspects of human life changed over time, dependent on the historical, cultural, or social contexts in which people lived. Assessments will ask students to demonstrate their knowledge of the archaeological evidence underpinning the themes in each period, and to conduct analysis and make interpretations which link the different themes within and across the time periods under study.


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

  • Revell, L (2006) 'Architecture, power and politics: the forum-basilica in Roman Britain' in J Sofaer (ed) Material Identities, 127-51.

  • Diaz-Andreu, M. and Lucy, S. (eds) 2005. The Archaeology of Identity: Approaches to Gender, Age, Status, Ethnicity, and Religion, Routledge (London)

  • Gilchrist, R. 2012. Medieval Life: Archaeology and the Life Course, Boydell and Brewer (Woodbridge)

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.