AR3M9-Archaeology of the Dark Ages

Module Provider: Archaeology
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Gabor Thomas


Type of module:

Summary module description:
This single-term module surveys the archaeology of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales in the post-Roman period up to the Viking Age, as well as the native British regions of England before the Anglo-Saxon conquests. In addition to examining the aspects of secular settlement and society, it places emphasis on the introduction and development of Christianity in these areas as expressed in burial customs, religious settlements and architecture and works of art. It is taught in seminars and is examined through an assessed essay, seminar performance, and a written examination.

This module aims to provide students with thorough grounding in the Early Christian archaeology of the British Isles and Ireland embracing landscapes, standing monuments, excavated sites, and portable material culture. It will evaluate the physical evidence against the backdrop of an uneven historical record, and use archaeological sources to examine the nature and development of Early Christian society within each of the geographical locales.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the students will be able to:
•identify, discuss and explain the main issues and events
•demonstrate an understanding of how archaeology engages with other disciplines in a reconstruction of the period, and a critical awareness of the diversity of sources used by archaeologists
•assess the character and the quality of archaeological data, and evaluate the interpretations placed on them
•locate and assemble information from a range of sources for particular topics through self-study
•organize their material and construct an effective argument in writing, both in coursework essays and examination answers, and in oral presentations in class

Additional outcomes:
Additional outcomes
This module also aims to enhance students’ oral communication skills, their ability to work in teams, and problem-solving in group seminars. Through the gathering of information they will develop self-study, research and IT skills.

Outline content:
This single-term module examines how archaeological approaches have helped to illuminate life in the period A.D. 400-1100, long regarded as a ‘Dark Age’ in the history of the British Isles. A key emphasis is the relationship between archaeology and history and the extent to which a critical approach to the period can be reconciled with mythical figures such as King Arthur and the culture evoked in contemporary prose sources. The content will be taught thematically, each topic being illustrated by case studies drawn from across Early Christian Britain and Ireland. Key themes include rural settlement and economy, the role of elite residences, trade and exchange, monastic culture, burial customs, and Early Christian art.

Global context:
This module is primarily concerned with the archaeology of western and northern areas of mainland Britain and Ireland, but also examines cultural and political interactions with the near continent and the Mediterranean world.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Largely seminars at which students will be expected to contribute by presenting the results of set reading. Lectures used to introduce complex topics. Individual tutorials to discuss essays. There will be a revision session in the Summer Term.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 10
Tutorials 4
External visits 6
Guided independent study 170
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 50
Report 40
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
Students will write one essay of 3000 words and a report of 2000 words examining a key site or object covered on the module. Coursework is to be submitted in the second half of Autumn Term, on dates set by the Department.

Oral presentation
Students are encouraged to participate regularly in seminar discussion. The mark awarded for this component of the assessment will be based on one assessed presentation of 15-20 minutes duration combined with general seminar performance.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (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.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Students who are eligible for re-assessment will have the right to re-assessment in coursework and re-examination.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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