AR3M11-Medieval Townscapes: understanding urbanisation

Module Provider: Archaeology
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Prof Grenville Astill


Summary module description:
Summary module description: this single-term module will assess our archaeological understanding of medieval towns through an in-depth analysis of five different towns. It will be based on extended site visits with student presentations. The module will be mainly seminar-based and assessed by oral presentations and a written report of a particular town.

Aims: to provide students with an understanding of urban archaeology and how it is used to understand the process of town development. This will be achieved by detailed case studies of particular towns using the available evidence and site visits. Students will also gain a wider appreciation of how such evidence is used to contribute to our overall ideas about the character of towns in Europe. And how contemporary redevelopment is managed in the historic cores of our towns

Assessable learning outcomes:
Assessable outcomes
Intended learning outcomes: by the end of the module it is expected that students will be able:
•to identify, discuss and explain the main issues and debates concerning the development of medieval towns. They will deepen their understanding of how archaeology engages with other disciplines
•to develop a critical awareness of the character and quality of the archaeological data and evaluate the interpretations placed on them
•to locate and assemble information about towns from a wide variety of sources through self-study
•to organise their material and construct an effective argument in both oral presentations and in writing
•to demonstrate an ability in observational skills and to assimilate those observations into a wider body of knowledge

Additional outcomes:
Additional outcomes
This module aims to integrate students’ academic and practical skills in order to communicate effectively both orally and in writing. There will be an element of team working and problem-solving on site visits. Students will also develop their capacity for self-study, research and IT skills through information gathering from a variety of media. Students will also appreciate the monitoring, impact and implications of redevelopment in the historic cores of our towns.

Outline content:
Outline content:
The module is designed to encourage students to develop an overview about how towns developed and changed during the middle ages: it aims to combine information about topography, street patterns and above- and below-ground archaeology. Introductory sessions will consider the character and state of medieval urban studies, followed by an evaluation of the particular character and quality of the available information for analysing towns, including documentary, cartographic and archaeological material, both in the form of primary data, site reports and syntheses.

The module is then focussed on a study of five towns which show the variety of urban form and development recognisable in northern Europe: Reading, Oxford, Newbury, Wallingford and Windsor. Each student will be assigned one town (or an aspect of it) and they will be expected to:
•identify the main elements of the urban sequence and areas or themes which need further investigation
•gather available documentation to produce a desk-top assessment of the town
•consider and critique the results from a key excavation in the town, both in terms of site development, architecture, material culture and environmental evidence. They will also be prepared to put these findings in the wider context of both the whole town and our general knowledge of urbanism
•prepare a presentation summarizing the above three stages in order to guide the group around the town to explain and discuss as a group the major issues and areas of debate
•produce a report that incorporates the above presentation but also assesses the value of the site visit as an aid to a better understanding of the town. The report should also explain how the detailed study of a town contributes to our general understanding of the middle ages.

A final session will consider how the case studies have changed the ideas about urbanzsation discussed in the introductory lectures.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The site visits are the main arena for teaching where students give presentations and the group contribute to a better understanding of the town’s past through assimilating their observations with what is already known about the town.
There will be introductory lectures to familiarise students with the general urban sequence and the range and quality of the available evidence. They will then be expected to engage in a period of self-study to produce a desk-top survey of a particular town and a summary of the main results of an excavation and the implications for our understanding of the town. There will be tutorials to review progress on this project This survey will form the basis of the site visit as well as the final report.
There will be a final session reviewing and comparing the results from the five towns.

The module is based on five extended site visits, each lasting about five hours (including travelling time). Attendance on these trips is compulsory. If for some reason they are unable to attend, and it is when they were due to make a presentation, then it will be required that students will circulate the results of their desk-top survey for the benefit of the group. Those students unable to come must either create an opportunity to make a personal visit to the town and/or use a photographic record that will be generated during the visit illustrate the main aspects identified in their desk-top survey. The following is recommended as preliminary reading:
Schofield, J. & Vince, A. 1994/2003. Medieval Towns.;
Graham-Campbell, J. & Valor, M. 2007. The Archaeology of Medieval Europe, Vol. 1, The Eighth to Twelfth Centuries AD;
Carver, M. (ed.) 2011 The Archaeology of Medieval Europe, Vol 2;
Palliser, D. (ed) 2000. The Cambridge Urban History of Britain Volume I: 600-1540.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 6
Seminars 2
Fieldwork 25
Guided independent study 167
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 65
Portfolio 25
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Other information on summative assessment:
Portfolio length 2000 words (25%);
Report length c. 3000 words (65%)
Presentation assessed on site visits (10%)

Formative assessment methods:
Feedback from the presentation will give opportunity to improve the quality of the final report.

Penalties for late submission:

In accordance with University-wide policy
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.
  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:

    Requirements for a pass:

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Resubmission of coursework in August/September

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 21 December 2016

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