Why study Archaeology?
Archaeology is a fascinating, rich and rewarding subject that explores many different aspects of humankind and embraces a wide range of skills and experiences. Archaeology is all about discovering and investigating the human past, from human evolution to the present day. By studying archaeology we can find out about how people spent their lives, where they lived, the clothes they wore and the food they ate.
Archaeology can uncover the religions, burial customs and beliefs of past societies. Through artefacts and excavations, extraordinary details of the daily lives of past generations can be investigated. Archaeology offers a perspective on broad topics, such as how different societies identified and organised themselves, how they co-existed and interacted with other communities and how they perceived and used the physical landscape in which they lived.
Why study Archaeology at Chester?
Archaeology is the ideal subject of study for those that like to mix 'inside' academic work and 'outside' experiences. Our programme will provide you with a range of subject-specific skills to pursue a career or further study in archaeology or heritage. The course also offers you the chance to develop key skills such as leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, IT and the written and presentation skills needed to help you succeed in any other future you choose.
Many students come to us without any previous experience of studying archaeology. In Year 1, you will begin to explore the skills, methods and theories of archaeology and get a broad foundation in the archaeology of Britain in its European context, from prehistory to the modern period. In years 2 and 3, you will continue to develop more specific practical skills and also pursue your own interests through a variety of period or thematic modules, such as The Archaeology of Medieval Britain, AD 400-1500 or Death and Burial. Throughout the degree, you will be encouraged to volunteer on a range of experiences and field projects associated with the Department.
Chester is an internationally important archaeological site. This programme uses Chester and its hinterland as a model for exploring the archaeology of Britain. Our course gives a broad view of British archaeology, focusing on the historic period from the beginning of the Roman era to the present age, although the programme also offers the chance to study prehistoric Britain and consider and reflect on themes in wider European and world archaeology. Single Honours Archaeology also includes modules specifically dedicated to heritage management and theory, which offers students another perspective on how the past really does matter in the present.
The modules embrace a mixture of theory, method and practice. Professional archaeologists from Chester Archaeology (Chester City Council's archaeology service) contribute to the teaching, as do other heritage professionals. A significant amount of fieldwork training is offered, including participation in full-scale archaeological excavation.
Level 4 (Year 1)
Introduction to Archaeological Practice
This module provides an introduction to archaeological methods and techniques, appropriate study and research skills and introduces archaeology as an academic discipline. There are four major themes to the module: study skills for archaeology, archaeology as a discipline including techniques and methods, practical archaeological skills and the introduction of concepts of heritage within archaeology.
An illustrative list of topics that may be covered within the module includes: reading, researching and writing in archaeology and at university level, an introduction to archaeological thinking and theory, non-invasive and invasive archaeological techniques, principles of archaeological dating (both relative and absolute), archaeological recording and post-excavation analysis, methods of field survey and creating site plans, and the presentation of archaeology as heritage.
Introduction to the Archaeology of the British Isles, 10,000BC-1900AD
This module provides a synoptic overview of the archaeology of the British Isles from early prehistory to the modern period (c.10 000BC - 1900AD). It introduces students to the field archaeology of all periods and a consideration of the key cultural and historical developments over this time.
An illustrative list of topics that may be covered within this module includes: Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, the Neolithic and the rise of farming, late Iron Age Britain, Roman Britain, Anglo-Saxon England, the early medieval archaeology of Western and Northern Britain, Vikings, Impact of the Norman Conquest, medieval England, Scotland and Wales in the medieval period, the Age of Transition, the archaeology of capitalism, and the Industrial Revolution.
Living with the Past: An Introduction to Archaeological Heritage
This module examines the major sources, theories and practices within archaeological heritage, including conflicts and tensions. It begins with the debate surrounding the definition of heritage and its development as a concept since the 1980s, and then goes on to analyse the impact of heritage on archaeology. Issues such as political agendas, the impact of legislation, conservation and interpretation are analysed through practical applications and case studies.
Debates in World Archaeology
This module provides an overview of global archaeology, highlighting key contemporary and historical debates which have contributed towards the growth of archaeology as a discipline, including explorations of issues relating to the theoretical and methodological evolution of the subject.
An illustrative list of topics that may be covered within the module includes: The Rise of Homo Sapiens (The Flores "hobbit"); Early hunter-gatherers (Etterbølle); The Introduction of Agriculture (Catal Huyuk); Early City States (Mohenjo Daro and the Indus Culture), The Archaeology of Islands (Easter Island/ Rapanui); Archaeology and History (Williamsburg).
Greeks, Etruscans, Romans and Celts: Introduction to European Classical Archaeology
This module is designed to give students an introduction to the archaeology of the European Classical world. It looks chronologically at the archaeological monuments, key sites and questions relating to the archaeology of Classical Greece, the Etruscan and Roman world and the Celts of Northern Europe. Within the module, students are introduced to aspects of cultural, artistic, economic and social developments in these regions. The archaeology is considered in terms of wider social contexts of religion, identity and social status.
Illustrative topics of what might be covered in this module include: kings and palaces of the Minoan and Mycenean period, archaic Greece, the archaeology of Athens and the Greek city-state, the archaeology of religion, Classical art, Etruscan life and afterlife, architecture of public and private spaces in Rome, the archaeology of Roman religion, the archaeology of Celtic Iron Age Europe, and interaction and identity between the Classical world and 'barbarians.'
Level 5 (Year 2)
Advanced Practical Skills in Archaeology
This module is designed to develop students' practical skills and applications in archaeology by developing skills learned in Level Four and introducing more complex archaeological methods and interpretation. The context of modern archaeological work, both in research and the commercial world, are explored and emphasis is given to the planning, design and management of archaeological projects. Illustrative topics that might be covered include: archaeological data analysis, data management and analysis, GIS and archaeology and project design and management. Within the module, students will develop a research project proposal, which ideally will relate to the dissertation topic in Level 6 (Year 3).
The Archaeology of Material Culture
This module introduces students to the study of material culture in an archaeological context. Key themes include: understanding the physical properties and manufacturing processes of a range of key materials (ceramics; glass; metalwork; organics), an appreciation of the range of techniques used in archaeology to study artefactual assemblages, deposition and post-depositional factors and theoretical approaches to material culture studies.
An illustrative list of topics that may be covered within the module includes: site formation processes and the survival of material culture, distribution, communication and consumption, introduction to the study of ceramics, metalwork, coinage, bone and textiles.
Experiential Learning: Archaeology
This module gives students an opportunity for first-hand experience. Illustrative examples of experiences that might be undertaken include: excavation, finds recording and analysis, other fieldwork and placements within heritage or government archaeological bodies or museums.
Themes in British Prehistory: from Rock-Art to Hadrian's Wall
This module builds on the introduction to prehistory obtained in Level 4(Year 2) and focuses more in-depth on key research questions in British prehistory and the Roman period. The module is based on a chronological study and focuses on the wider themes of art, ritual and ideology, social and economic interaction and identity through in-depth studies of sites, monuments and artefacts.
An illustrative description of topics that might be covered includes: prehistoric rock-art and its interpretation, prehistoric monumental architecture, social stratification in prehistory, artefacts and fragmentation, deposition and hoarding in the Bronze Age, ritual deposition in the British Iron Age, the social archaeology of houses in the British Iron Age, and Romanisation and Roman-British interaction.
The Archaeology of Medieval Britain, AD400-1500
This module builds on the introduction to the medieval world (AD 400-1500) provided in Level 4 and offers a more in-depth exploration of key research questions in the study of the medieval British Isles in their European context. The module has a broad chronological framework and explores a wide range of thematic issues relating economy, religion, art and culture through in-depth studies of sites, monuments and artefacts.
An illustrative description of topics that might be covered includes: early medieval migrations, the spread of Christianity, the rise of kingship, the archaeology of feudalism, the archaeology of monasticism, and the growth of urbanism.
Recreating the Past: Archaeological Heritage Interpretation
This module addresses major themes in archaeological heritage interpretation from both a theoretical and a practical perspective. It begins with an overview on issues affecting interpretation such as political agendas, the impact of organisations and the role of value and significance. It then goes on to consider the practical implications for interpretation strategies surrounding marketing, presentation media, public archaeology, reconstruction.
Landscape Archaeology of the British Isles
This module provides an introduction to the landscape archaeology of Britain. It offers a chronological overview of the development of the British landscape and also explores the range of practical techniques and conceptual approaches to the study of landscape that characterises modern landscape archaeology.
An illustrative list of topics that may be covered within the module includes: hunter-gatherer landscapes, the open-field system, marginal landscapes, enclosure, woodland, ritual and symbolic landscapes, and the landscapes of industry.
Level 6 (Year 3)
The Dissertation is a piece of work on an archaeological episode or topic chosen by the student, subject to approval by the programme leader. The student is supported through tutorial supervision meetings with a designated supervisor. Primary source material should be utilised to a significant extent. This may entail a piece of fieldwork undertaken by the student, with the findings placed in a broader interpretative and analytical context. The work may also entail a desk-based assessment or reassessment, interpretation and analysis of existing archaeological data and published sources. The use of original research, thinking and interpretation is a key element in all types of dissertation projects. The topic may relate to material discussed or explored in other modules, but may not directly mirror other module assignments or questions.
Archaeology and Contemporary Society
This module explores the role archaeology plays in contemporary society, both in a professional capacity and as a means for communicating information about the past to the general public. Topics explored include the current structure of the archaeological profession in Britain and its legislative framework, the development of academic archaeology, archaeology and the media, and careers in archaeology.
Collecting the Past: Museums and Material Culture
This module addresses major themes in the theory and practice of museum management, with specific reference to museum archaeological collections. It begins by analysing collections development and management, including issues of presentation, and then goes on to assess the use of museums in political agendas. Within these wider themes, questions surrounding material culture typology are addressed.
The Archaeology of the Modern World, AD1500-2000
This module builds on the Introduction to British Archaeology module and explores the archaeology and historic environment of post-medieval Britain in its international context in more depth. It also explores the range of methodological and theoretical challenges derived from combining archaeological and historical sources.
An illustrative list of topics that might be covered include: the architectural impact of the Reformation, the rise of mass consumerism, archaeology and empire, designed landscapes (parks, gardens and cemeteries), the archaeology of transport: road, rail and canal, the archaeology of heavy industry, archaeological approaches to the 20th century.
Death and Burial
This module builds on knowledge acquired in other Level 4, 5 and 6 (Years 1, 2 and 3) period-based modules. This is a thematic exploration of the archaeology of death and burial, considering a range of theoretical and practical issues informing the archaeological study of mortuary behaviour.
An illustrative list of topics that may be covered includes: an introduction to palaeopathology, death and gender, anthropological approaches to the study of death, the re-burial debate.
Archaeology and the Irish Sea Province
This module explores the region around the Irish Sea, which has been considered across various periods of archaeological interest as a zone of cultural and economic interaction. Shared cultural practices range from the extensive use of prehistoric rock-art, to the prevalence of particular types of prehistoric burial architecture, to shared motifs and designs of later Iron Age art, to economic relationships with the Continent in the early medieval period, the flowering and development of the Insular art style, to medieval and later relationships with England as a dominating political force.
In this module, students explore in depth the archaeology of the Irish Sea region - focusing on Ireland, Wales, SW and NW England (including Cheshire), the Isle of Man and the West coast of Scotland following a chronological framework. We consider different approaches to the archaeology of the region.
Illustrative topics of what might be covered include: rock-art landscapes, the theoretical approaches to the archaeology of islands, archaeological approaches to concepts of liminality, boundaries and frontiers, archaeology and nationalism in the region, the context, development and interpretation of Insular art, the Vikings and the archaeology of dominance in the region.
The Archaeology of Buildings
The archaeological study of standing buildings is an expanding and increasingly important area of the modern profession. It can be regarded as the third element in archaeological practice along with below-ground stratigraphy and artefact studies. Buildings have considerable potential for learning about and understanding aspects of past societies. They can be studied by analysis of their form, function, style, attributes and materials in a way analogous to artefacts. Also, as structures are frequently long-lived, they can exhibit attributes of stratigraphy similar to a below-ground site and so recorded and studied with similar methodologies.
The module focuses on buildings in this country during the second millennium where surviving examples may be studied. It studies the main developments in form, style and function through this period. A major element is devoted to the recording, study and interpretation of buildings from a theoretical and practical viewpoint. Practical work comprises an important element of the module assessment.
Preserving the Past: Managing Historical Buildings and Ancient Monuments
With reference to primary sources where appropriate, this module explores complex issues relating to the management of the built environment in terms of conservation and interpretation issues in the 21st century. There is an examination of areas such as: a brief overview of architectural developments in Britain, conservation issues surrounding monuments and buildings, the uses of ancient monuments and historic buildings in contemporary society, and interpretation methodology as applied to the built environment.
The Archaeology of Human Remains
This module provides an introduction to the theoretical and practical techniques used for the analysis of human remains from archaeological sites. It will be taught through a combination of lectures and practical sessions through which students will learn how to identify the different bones of the body, estimate physical traits such as age, sex and stature, and identify evidence for health and disease. It will also cover the interpretation of skeletal data and allow students to critically evaluate specialist human osteological reports. It builds on the introduction to the study of human remains provided in HI5001 and will complement the knowledge acquired in other Level 5 and 6 thematic and period-based modules. This module also provides practical experience of studying human remains which will complement the broader thematic exploration of funerary archaeology that is provided by HI6004.