ARA8291 : Graduate Seminar in Historical Archaeology: Archaeologies of European Expansion

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module introduces and familiarises students with the most current discussions shaping historical archaeology as a discipline. Using a global perspective, we identify how archaeology contributes to the development of historical narratives by focusing on important research themes like colonialism, slavery, exploration, the development of global economies and the spread of religion. Lectures will provide students with an understanding of how various stakeholders have different interests in cultural heritage resources and how archaeologists work with everyone to ensure best management practice. Seminars focus on developing critical thinking skills and provide students with the opportunity to investigate and discuss some of the most up-to date research in the discipline.

Outline Of Syllabus

2hrs per week
1st week (1 hour lecture only)
The following is an example syllabus. Topics and themes may vary and their order may change.

Week 1 (ET):
-Lecture: Introduction to module, aims and expectations.

Week 2 (ET):
-Lecture: Archaeology of explorers
-Seminar theme: Links between archaeology and nationalism

Week 3 (ET):
-Lecture: Archaeology of ‘First-contacts’
-Seminar theme: Archaeology and claims to the past

Week 4 (ET):
-Lecture: Taming the wilderness: Archaeologies of infrastructure.
-Seminar Theme: Fantasy vs. reality - developing a realistic understanding of life on the ‘frontier.’

Week 5 (ET):
-Lecture: Living on the frontier – Archaeology of early towns and farmsteads
-Seminar theme: Which sites to save, record or destroy? Defining the ‘value’ of archaeological heritage.

Week 6 (ET):
-Lecture: Archaeologies of the Wild West.
-Seminar theme: Reconstructing ‘lawless’ societies.

Week 7 (ET):
-Lecture: Global Connections 1 – Turning fish into wine: North Atlantic trade routes.
-Seminar theme: Development of new trade routes and early globalisation.

Week 8 (AC):
-Lecture: Global connections 2: Exploiting Africa
-Seminar: Understanding natural resource extraction and the movement of goods

Week 9 (JW):
-Lecture: Global connections 3: human resources
-Seminar Theme: Giving a voice to those who had it stolen

Week 10 (ET):
-Lecture: Convict societies, prisons and other forced labour
-Seminar Theme: Archaeologies of law and order.

Week 11 (JW):
-Lecture: Archaeologies of new beliefs
-Seminar theme: Spread of Christianity and development of Creole cultures.

Week 12 (ET)
-Lecture: Colonial consequences
-Seminar theme: Working with descendant communities and the future of archaeology.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion891:0089:0060% of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading331:0033:00Preparation for small group teaching
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study551:0055:0040% of guided independent study
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Through weekly lectures, the module will explore some of the major research themes that have come to shape historical archaeology as a discipline and will familiarise students the history of research on the topic. The accompanying weekly seminar will provide students with the opportunity to familiarise themselves with some of the most recent research on these topics.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M40Critical assessment of standards and guidelines in colonial context (2,000 words)
Essay2A602,000 word essay on related topic of choice
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation2MChairing weekly seminars
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

• The written exercise will be a critical assessment of a region or jurisdiction’s standards and guidelines for practicing archaeology and heritage culture management. The student will be required to reflect on how these rules are affecting how various stakeholders are engaging with archaeological heritage and if elements of colonialism survive in the practice of archaeology. This will assess important learning and skills outcomes set out for this module: The ability to identify and describe the relationship(s) with different stakeholders, the ability to critically evaluate best practice guidelines and protocols, and further enhance basic research, critical thinking and communication skills.
• While the lectures and seminars provide an overview of previous and current research on a variety of themes and topics, the essay will allow students to pick a topic that interests them and further engage with the most up-to-date research concerning that theme. This will provide students with the opportunity to better understand a topic that might interest them in later studies (i.e., relating to the MA dissertation or future PhD research). This assesses the knowledge outcome of this module relating to keeping abreast of the most recent research in the field and critical thinking.
• The weekly seminar will require students to come to class prepared to discuss assigned readings. Students will each be tasked with chairing seminars and in contributing to the discussions. There will be informal feedback during the seminars on how to improve their academic discussion skills and leading discussions. These seminar help meet the intended knowledge outcomes of becoming familiar with the most up-to-date research, and the basic research skills like leading group discussions and critical thinking.

Reading Lists