ARMAMT-Analysing the Medieval Townscape

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: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Prof Grenville Astill


Summary module description:
This single-term module will develop our understanding of medieval urban archaeology through an in-depth analysis of five different towns. It will be based on extended site visits with student presentations. The module is based on seminars, fieldwork and linked tutorials.

To provide students with a developed 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. How contemporary redevelopment is managed in the historic cores of our towns will also be considered.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that students will be able to: * demonstrate deep and comprehensive understanding of the main issues and debates concerning the development of medieval towns.

demonstate an advanced knowledge of how archaeology engages with other disciplines.

* demonstrate a critical awareness of the character and quality of the archaeological data and critically assess the interpretations placed on them;

* identify and synthesise information about towns from a wide variety of sources through self-study;

* formulate and articulate effective and sophisticated argument in both oral presentations and in writing;

Additional outcomes:
This module aims to integrate and reinforce 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 extend the monitoring, impact and implications of redevelopment in the historic cores of our towns.

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 focused 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 apply 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 conclusions from 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.

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 seminars to consider the wider implications of the site visits and 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.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 6
Tutorials 5
Fieldwork 25
Guided independent study 164
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Report 70
Portfolio 20
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Other information on summative assessment:
One portfolio comprising desk-top survey, and one illustrated report of 5000 words

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

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

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: 31 March 2017

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