Accessibility statement

Material Culture Theory in Practice - ARC00085M

« Back to module search

  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Stephanie Wynne-Jones
  • Credit value: 5 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23
    • See module specification for other years: 2021-22

Module summary

This skills course prepares you for working with objects in many different contexts. It provides a background in both practical and theoretical aspects of object studies. Each week, the session will focus on a type of material, and a particular area of theory about interpreting the material world. They will complement each other in a series of practical sessions that will allow students to build and test their own studies. This is an essential course for anyone who thinks they may work with artefacts, or who is interested in the ways past peoples have interacted with the material world.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

  • This module will provide students with a broad range of theoretical and practical skills in working with material culture

  • It will provide a strong basis for future independent research on artefacts

Module learning outcomes

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

  • Understand and be able to put into practice theories of objects in the archaeological record

  • Design their own material culture studies on a wide range of artefact types

  • Write or speak with confidence about contemporary object studies

Critique published literature on material culture studies

Module content

This module will introduce the study of material culture in archaeology through a skills-led approach. Each session will be guided by a particular theory (e.g. assemblage theory, object agency) which will structure a practice exercise engaging with objects and places. We will use some archaeological artefacts in the classroom, and will also draw on video tutorials of object analysis. Students will discuss methods of building their own studies, framed around theoretical engagements with the material world, and will present those ideas via a portfolio that develops from week to week as the module progresses.


Task Length % of module mark
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
10 minute group presentation
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
10 minute group presentation
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback will be available within 4 weeks

Indicative reading

Jones, A. 2004. Archaeometry and materiality: Materials-based analysis in theory and practice. Archaeometry 46/3, 327–338.

Lemonnier, P. 1986. The study of material culture today: towards an anthropology of technical systems. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 5, 147-86.

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.