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Experimental Archaeology in Context - ARC00087M

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Aimee Little
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

During this module you will acquire the theoretical skills required to engage and reflect critically on your own experimental research aims and objectives. Experimental Archaeology (EA) is increasingly being used to address key questions in material culture research. These advances, alongside cutting-edge scientific techniques investigating the past functions of artefacts, are enriching our understanding of object life histories more than ever before.

Students have said of this module:  “Some classes stick with you in your academic experiences and I know I will hold on to the memories of the insightful conversations and debates we all had. I can truly say it will be a fond memory of my Master's programme”

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

This module aims to equip students with the essential theoretical skills required to critically reflect on experimental research and its application to the study of material culture.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module the students should:

  • Have an understanding of why experimentation is a key aspect of artefact studies

  • Be able to discuss gender and ethical issues in Experimental Archaeological (EA) research

  • Know the limitations of EA research

  • Show familiarity with current analytical approaches to the imaging of objects

  • Have an understanding of the role of experimentation in reconstructing artefact biographies

  • Understand and critique key differences between reenactment and EA

  • Know the suitability of different dissemination mediums, including digital, for reaching target audiences in the Heritage Sector

  • Developed and enhanced skills in oral presentations, discussion and debate

  • Developed and enhanced team working skills from small group work and oral presentations

  • Developed and enhanced comprehensive skills in producing powerpoint presentations and essay writing

Module content

During this module students will consider theoretical and ethical aspects of Experimental Archaeology research, the differences between reenactment and Experimental Archaeology, and how Experimental Archaeology can be employed to reconstruct artefact and house biographies. We will also explore the use of digital imaging and media as analytical tools and important forms of dissemination. You will reflect critically on whose past we are recreating through experimentation, and will develop your abilities to bring a critical perspective to current and past approaches to experimentation. Classes will be structured thematically and involve student-led seminars with interactive activities embedded into some sessions.

Indicative assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3500 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Indicative reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3500 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback will be available within 6 weeks

Indicative reading

Outram, A. K. (2008). Introduction to Experimental Archaeology. World Archaeology 40: 1–6

Planel, P., & Stone, P. G. (2003). The Constructed Past: Experimental Archaeology, Education and the Public. London: Routledge

Bell, M. (2014). ‘Experimental Archaeology at the Crossroads: A Contribution to Interpretation or Evidence of ‘xeroxing’?’. In R. Chapman and A. Wylie (eds), Material Evidence. Learning from Archaeological Practice, pp.62–78. London: Routledge

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University constantly explores 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. In some instances it may be appropriate for the University to notify and consult with affected students about module changes in accordance with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.