Module Catalogue 2019/20

MCH3997 : Our Visual Past: Ancient Rock Art in the UK and Internationally

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Aron Mazel
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



Rock art has been made without interruption for several tens of thousands of years and continues to be made in a few parts of the world. Internationally, it forms an iconic and highly visual link with the past, which people are able to engage with and be inspired by. During the last four decades rock art research has emerged as one of the most dynamic sub-disciplines within archaeology globally with an increasing number of academics involved in studying it . This has resulted in substantial advances in rock art documentation, analysis, dating, interpretation, management, and conservation. The considerable growth of literature on the subject provides insights into changes in human behaviour, technology, economy, and ideology through time. The growth of interest and research has been reflected in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, which has an abundance of Neolithic and Early Bronze Age rock carvings. Drawing on the latest developments in the upsurge of interest and research into rock art, the module will examine how rock art informs our understanding of the present and the past through investigations into topics such as methods of dating, interpretations, relationships to landscapes, and its management and conservation.
The Aims of the module are to:

- introduce students to rock art in a global context, including its distribution and chronology
- reflect on the cultural heritage value of rock art internationally
- explore the interpretation of rock art
- reflect on the relationship between different forms of archaeological data and how they can be integrated with each other in the construction of the past
- appreciate the range of methods used to date rock art and the implications of the results
- understand the ways archaeologists identify and record rock art, including the increasing role of digital technology
- appreciate conservation and management threats to rock art and how these have been addressed, including its presentation to the public

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus will cover the following topics
- Rock art in a global context and its value as a cultural heritage resource
- Identifying and recording rock art
- Interpreting rock art
- Dating rock art and the integration of rock art and archaeological data in the construction of the archaeological past
- Threats to and the safeguarding of rock art (including engagement with the public) • Future of rock art studies

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

• appreciate rock art as a source of archaeological information
• appreciate rock art’s cultural heritage value in a global context
• understand, compare and evaluate archaeological theories and frameworks in their historical context
• develop an awareness of the wide range of frameworks used in the interpreting rock art and the debates surrounding these. Students will show an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of different interpretations.
• understand and evaluate how evidence is used in archaeological research as well as the limitations associated with this
• demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between archaeological research questions and the principles, methods and broader setting of archaeological research, comprehending archaeological literature, specialised terminology and data
• understand the different ways archaeologists identify and record rock art, including the growing role of digital technology
• obtain knowledge about a variety of methods used to date rock art
• appreciating the conservation and management threats to rock art and how these have been addressed, including public engagement

Intended Skill Outcomes

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

• Reading, understanding, critiquing archaeological data, including specialised terminology
• Analysing and evaluating archaeologists’ use of evidence.
• Research, critical reading and reasoning, sustained discussion and appropriate presentation of the results,

All students will also develop the following key skills:
• Time management
• Bibliographic and library skills
• Oral discussion and debate
• Writing and revising analytic prose

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion162:0062:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture61:006:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture301:0030:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading162:0062:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity101:0010:00Seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study130:0030:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures provide a broad overview of rock art while also engaging with various aspects of the topic in depth. The lectures also provide the opportunity to make connections between rock art in different parts of the world including UK and Ireland. Seminars either examine one aspect of that week’s overview in greater depth, or cover aspects of study skills and coursework preparation. Many seminars involve some group work, and all are designed to tie in to, and support, the set written work. Advance (group) preparatory work is required for most seminars

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M502000 words
Essay2M502000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Essay 1 (Problem solving exercise): this essay will be based on interpretive approaches to rock art panel.

Essay 2 (Theoretical/conceptual exercise) this essay will be based on central concepts, datasets and issues raised in the module.

Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, develops key skills in research, reading and writing.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 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 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.