ARMGMB-Molluscan Biostratigraphy

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: Prof Martin Bell


Type of module:

Summary module description:
The course introduces the application of mollusc analysis in archaeology and the study of Quaternary environments. Evidence from land, freshwater and marine molluscs is considered in terms of their role in environmental reconstruction and exploitation as a food source, represented by middens. The formation of the molluscan palaeoenvironmental record, the contribution of modern ecological studies and problems of interpretation are considered in reviewing previous work. The application of these techniques will be explored through a laboratory practical project which will involve the preparation of a report.

Develop an understanding of the contribution of molluscs to an understanding of past environments.
Awareness of research on formation processes of the molluscan record and the contribution, and limitations, of modern ecological studies.
Understand techniques of field sampling, laboratory extraction and microscope identification.
Development of skills to identify molluscs, create a body of data, graphically represent evidence and write a report on the evidence produced.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Skills in microscope work and identification
Understanding the formation processes of the biological record
Skills in the interpretation of biological evidence
Understanding the contribution of mollusc research on past environments and diet
The ability to integrate a range of sources of palaeoenvironmental and palaeoeconomic evidence
Report writing skills.

Additional outcomes:
Skills in sampling and sieving.
The ability to work as part of a team in the generation of data and the production of a report.
Creation of graphics suitable for illustration of a report.
Transferable skills in the identification and interpretation of biological evidence.
Outline content

Outline content:
Introduction to Molluscs as a group
Taphonomy and formation processes
Field sampling
Land and freshwater molluscs as evidence of environment with practicals
Land molluscs and diet
Marine molluscs, middens and death assemblages with practicals

Global context:
The course draws on work in North West Europe particularly UK and other parts of the world on land molluscs as evidence of environment and the role of people in environmental change. It draws on Mediterranean evidence of land mollusc middens and on evidence from Denmark, North America, Australia and many other parts of the world with evidence for marine mollusc middens. The role of molluscs in broad spectrum resource use by advanced hunter-gatherer fishers in many parts of the world in the late glacial and early Holocene as well as recent ethnographic evidence will be reviewed as well as their role in a range of later Holocene contexts.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The course comprises about one third lectures, a visit to the Cole Museum, mini-laboratory project on death assemblages and shell middens and the main laboratory practical sessions on land and / or freshwater molluscs on which the main module report is written. Each member of the class will look at individual levels within a sequence and the levels will be put together to create a sequence on which each member of the class will write an individual report including comparison between the study site and others previously published.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 11
Practicals classes and workshops 18
External visits 1
Guided independent study 170
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Report 80
Practical skills assessment 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
1 Laboratory Report (4000 words) 80%
2 Mini Practical Reports 20%

Formative assessment methods:

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:

Assessment requirements for a pass:

Reassessment arrangements:
Resubmission of coursework by 1 September, but it cannot carry forward more than a pass mark.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 20 April 2018


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