Global Opportunities

ARA3036 : Neolithic & Early Bronze Age Britain in its European Context (Inactive)

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module aims to provide students with an advanced understanding of social, cultural, and economic developments in the British Isles from c. 4000 BC to c. 1500 BC. The module will explore changes in how and where people lived, what and how they ate, what they did with their dead, how they moved during their lifetimes and how they interacted with one another at differing scales, the places they built and altered, the things that shaped their daily lives, and their understandings of life, death, community and the cosmos.

The module also aims to provide students with a detailed knowledge of current debates in the interpretation of Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Britain - from how we interpret the art and monuments of the period to how we assess the evidence used to infer dramatic changes in diet and/or populations in some centuries. The module aims to stimulate students to reflect on how arguments about the interpretation of the prehistoric past are produced, and evaluate the contribution made by different approaches to various kinds of archaeological evidence.

The majority of the module will focus on Britain, but some sessions will also include parts of Ireland, and throughout reference will be made to how the British evidence fits in with (or sometimes contrasts with) the evidence from the near Continent.

Outline Of Syllabus

Although session titles may vary from year to year the following syllabus is indicative of the kind of topics that will be taught.
Lectures/lecture replacement materials/ Seminars/presentations

The basics: What, where and when / Projects, presentations and essays
Material culture: Earlier Neolithic; Later Neolithic/ Mines and quarries
Subsistence and consumption: Earlier Neolithic; Later Neolithic / Neolithic foodways
Dwelling: Earlier Neolithic; Later Neolithic / ‘House societies?’
Monuments and landscapes: Earlier Neolithic; Later Neolithic / Cosmology (architecture and art)
Death: Earlier Neolithic; Later Neolithic / Mortuary practices
Identity and mobility: Earlier Neolithic; Later Neolithic; EBA / Debating identity and mobility: aDNA, isotopes, material culture, architecture
Change and continuity: the later second millennium /The Beaker phenomenon
Death and Material Culture: Beakers to Cordoned Urns / Early Bronze Age mortuary practices
Monuments and landscapes: Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age / Cosmology (architecture and art)

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion521:0052:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials101:0010:00Recorded lectures and other materials. Counts as contact hours
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00Pip lectures, which can be moved to synchronous online delivery if necessary
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading531:0053:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00Pip seminars, which can be moved to synchronous online if necessary
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops23:006:00Formative student presentations: can be moved to online delivery if necessary. 20mins per student
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork17:007:00Fieldtrip (online activity can be provided as alternative if necessary)
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study521:0052:00N/A
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
ARA8036Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Britain in its European Context
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Key knowledge about the archaeological evidence and main interpretive approaches will be provided through lectures. Each lecture topic will also have an associated seminar for which students will each read a text and discuss it with the rest of the class and the seminar leader. The fieldtrip will provide first-hand experience of relevant archaeological sites in their landscape setting. The student presentations provide an opportunity for the student to present the ideas they are pursuing in their long assignment and receive oral feedback ahead of writing the long assignment.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M401500 words. May be M or A.
Essay1A602500 words. May be M or A.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation1MOn topic of long assignment
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students complete two summatively assessed assignments – a long and a short assignment. One deadline is mid-module the other in the assessment period following the end of the module. Each student may choose whether to do their long assignment for the first deadline or the second, and must do the short assignment for the other deadline. Each student will give a 15 minute formative presentation on their long assignment topic in a student presentation workshop timed for 1-2 weeks before the assignment submission deadline. Formative verbal feedback will be provided on each presentation.

The long assignment will be a project designed to explore one aspect of the module in depth, focussed on exploring a theme within one region or period, or critically evaluating a specific line of argument in detail (e.g. the argument for interpreting Late Neolithic communities in Orkney as ‘house societies’). The short assignment is designed to consider a more general thematic issue at a broader scale (e.g. how we interpret changes in settlement evidence during the British Neolithic). This combination tests different aspects of the students’ knowledge, and research and writing skills.

Reading Lists