Study Abroad and Exchanges



ARA2066 : Glass Matters: The Archaeology and History of Vitreous Materials (Inactive)

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


- To introduce the archaeology and history of vitreous materials production, including faience, glass and glazed ceramics
-       To develop problem-solving, interdisciplinary skills helping students to apply learning from history, archaeology and science regardless of their academic background
-       To gain practical, hands on experience of experimental archaeology

Outline Of Syllabus

The module is all about the history and archaeology of glass and related materials. Glass is a significant find in archaeological assemblages in Africa, Europe and Asia from the Bronze Age onwards, and Newcastle is one of only a small number of institutions in the world to offer this focus at undergraduate level. The module provides essential training in recognising and evaluating archaeological glass finds, but also in transferable skills including team work, debate, how to read scientific papers (even if you don’t have a background in science!), and innovative problem-solving.

The module includes a mixture of lectures, experimental laboratory sessions, practical classes and field trips, including glass bead-making using flame working techniques, handling and learning about world class ancient glass collections such as that from the Roman town of Corbridge, and watching glassblowers in action at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland.

In your coursework, which includes a group experiment and poster, and an individual essay, you will have the opportunity to focus on one or more topics of interest from a wide range of fascinating case studies, or to develop an avenue of research of particular interest to you. In class, we cover several points in the history of glass, starting with the Late Bronze Age Mediterranean, where it was used in objects such as the mask of King Tutankhamen; through to early mass production by the glassblowers of the Roman period; medieval religious uses of glass in Islam, Christianity and Judaism; glass trade beads and their role in global colonialism; up to the industrial revolution, when glassmaking was a key industry here in the North East of England.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion651:0065:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical52:0010:00To include student-led group activity
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading651:0065:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork26:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study361:0036:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures, which will include scope for questions and answers, and student discussion:
(a) provide the background information, charting the history of glass production through different periods which are presented as case studies;
(b) provide opportunities for students to present their own views on the subjects raised, and to interact with the lecturer and with one another, developing their critical thinking about traditional or popular historical narratives of the human relationship with technology.

The practical classes will give students the experience in designed a tailored solution to a given problem, providing key transferable skills. They will have to work in groups, developing their teamwork and communication skills, and will be expected to reflect critically on the work they have done.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A703000 words
Poster2M30Group poster (text + images) and in-class presentation
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The poster will test students’ ability to present scientific information and the results of experimentation in an appropriate manner, which can be communicated to a general academic audience. It will also test their group work and communication skills and give them the experience of poster presentation as it is practiced at academic conferences.

The longer essay will test students’ ability to digest and utilise the skills and knowledge they have developed in the course of the module in order to address a specific research question related to the module themes. It will also test their independent research skills.

Reading Lists