Module Catalogue 2023/24

ARA3031 : Historical Archaeology of Britain 1500-Present (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jane Webster
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



The aims of this module are:
1. To develop students’ knowledge and understanding of the material culture of the period 1500-present
2. To expand students’ understanding of the relationship between documentary sources and archaeological data that characterises historical archaeology as a discipline
3. To examine and engage in debates about the range of interpretative frameworks available for modelling cultural change in Britain after 1500
4. To foster an understanding of the role of archaeology in studying the very recent past

Outline Of Syllabus

Part 1: From medieval to modern: the changing face of Britain c.1500-1750
Part 2: The Industrial era c.1750-1900
Part 3: The 20th and 21st centuries

This module focuses on the archaeology of the period 1500-present within the British Isles. It begins with an examination of the period 1500-1750, covering the impact of the Renaissance and Reformation, the ‘consumer revolution’ after 1600,and archaeological approaches to key changes in British landscapes and townscapes from the Civil War to the Georgian era.

The middle section of the course looks at the Industrial era (c.1750-1900), exploring the aims and methods of industrial archaeology (an archaeological discipline in its own right), and looking at the social changes resulting from industrialisation. The final part of the course explores the archaeology of the 20th and 21st centuries, focusing on changing attitudes to death after 1900, the First and Second World Wars, and the archaeology of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Throughout this module we make use of contemporary documentary sources, examining the ways in which historical archaeologists utilise these documents alongside excavation data in writing the history of the recent past. We also examine the relationship between archaeology and heritage presentation, exploring the sometimes contentious issues that surround the public presentation of recent historical phenomena.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

•       Students will demonstrate knowledge and understanding at an intensive level of selected aspects of the archaeology of Britain from 1500-present.
•       Students will demonstrate a detailed awareness of the role of archaeology in expanding our understanding of the period 1500-present
•       Students will be familiar with a variety of interpretative frameworks for modelling cultural change in the period 1500-present, and will show an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of these models.
•       Students will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of selected national and regional archaeological remains and heritage resources

Intended Skill Outcomes

In order to complete the module successfully, all students must demonstrate that they have developed skills in:

•       Reading, understanding, critiquing historical and archaeological data
•       Analysing and evaluating archaeologists’ use of evidence.
•       Critical reading and reasoning, sustained discussion and appropriate presentation of results
•       The recognition and interpretation of selected artefact categories
•       An ability to appreciate the political and social significance of selected archaeological remains, and to take a responsible attitude to their study, interpretation, preservation and presentation

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture161:0016:00PiP
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion551:0055:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading331:0033:003 hrs p/week from module reading list
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical62:0012:00PinP
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching51:005:00Seminars (PiP)
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities113:0033:003hrs of set reading weekly (seminars/practicals)
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study461:0046:00Consolidatation of learning, additional reading, reflection
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures offer a broad (largely chronological) overview of the historical archaeology of Britain after 1500. Seminars examine one aspect of that week’s overview in greater depth. These sessions are designed to tie in to, and support, the two module assessments. Advance preparatory work (set reading) is required for the seminars. The 6 practical sessions involve ‘hands on’ study of artefacts in museum collections, and/or historical documents, and in all cases support either Assessment 1 or Assessment 2

Seminars and practicals encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral communication, problem-solving skills and adaptability.

This module has 6 x 2 hr practical classes that take up 12 classroom hours; plus 5 x 1 hr seminars that also need to be classroom-based to facilitate discussion, teamworking etc. The 16 hrs of lectures are given in person BUT are also recorded (not using recap in the class; the recording is made separately and uploaded immediately after the live class) and students therefore get BOTH the classroom live lecture experience and have a quality recording that covers the same ground and can be used for consolidation or (if they cannot attend) as a supplement to being present.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M50Assessed Essay (1900 words)
Written exercise1A50Assessed Artefact Biography (1900 words)
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Computer assessment1MWeekly Canvas quiz on lecture/seminar reading (no word count)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, and develops key skills in research, reading and writing. The formative assessment supports the development of both assessments, offering students the opportunity to test their understanding of weekly readings that relate directly to essay topics and to the concept and practice of artefact biography. Assessment 1 allows students to research one of the lecture topics from the first half of the module. Assessment 2 (Artefact Biography) allows students to apply archaeological and wider social theory (interpretative frameworks) to artefacts in their domestic environment. It also develops additional skils including oral interviewing (of family members) and the use of reading from disciplines outside Archaeology.

All of the assessments for this module will be submitted and marked online.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. Where an exam is present, an alternative form of assessment will be set and where coursework is present, an alternative deadline will be set. Details of the alternative assessment will be provided by the module leader.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2023/24 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2024/25 entry will be published here in early-April 2024. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.