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Experimental Archaeology - ARC00087M

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Andy Needham
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

In this module you will learn what experimental archaeology is, what its limitations are and why it is important. You will have the opportunity to design, execute and record your own experiment, with the method of assessment (a short documentary film) enabling you to think critically about how best to present experimental research to the general public.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

This module aims to:

  • equip students with the practical skills required to design, conduct and critique experiments related to material culture.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should:

  • Have a comprehensive understanding the key role experimentation plays within artefact studies
  • Be able to demonstrate a systematic understanding of experimental project design and implementation, with clearly stated aims, methods and consideration of variables
  • Be able to communicate complex ideas in an analytical framework through report writing to a professional standard
  • Be able to demonstrate originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of experimental archaeology and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline
  • Be able to communicate results of an experimental research project clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences

Module content

During this module students will get hands-on practical experience through the implementation of an archaeological experiment based on an outstanding question relating to a specific form of material culture. Practical work will be undertaken outdoors, fireside, at the YEAR Centre. A short documentary film based on their experimental research, and requiring close consideration of the target audience, will be exhibited and judged at the end of the course. By which time students will have acquired the theoretical and planning skills required to design, implement, record and critically reflect on their own experimental research project. An overview of experimental archaeology, including the ethical and gender debates, as well as a brief history of this approach will help provide broader theoretical context.


Task Length % of module mark
Presentation: Pre recorded presentation
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Presentation: Pre recorded presentation
N/A 100

Module feedback

Formative: oral feedback from module leaders

Summative: written feedback within the University's turnaround policy

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 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.