ARMM01-Dark Age Societies AD400-1000

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 linked tutorials.

To provide students with an in-depth understanding of Early Christian archaeology of the British Isles and Ireland embracing landscapes, standing monuments, excavated sites, and portable material culture. Students will learn to critically evaluate the contribution that archaeological evidence has made to an understanding of Early Christian society through its interplay with historical and art-historical sources. A full appreciation will also be gained of the ‘Celtic’ background to Early Christian communities and how this shared cultural ancestry is manifested in the archaeological record.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Intended learning outcomes:
Students will have a systematic understanding of the different nature of the various types of evidence (archaeological, historical, art-historical and environmental) available for the period, and be able to assess and evaluate one against the other. They will be able to use primary data for the critical evaluation of theories, and for the comparison and assessment of the various positions in current scholarly debates. They will also be able to extend via independent self-study their understanding of, and originality of approach to, the issues discussed in class, and identify topics suitable for essays and dissertations.

Assessable outcomes
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able:
•to provide a critical assessment of the main issues and events
•to critically evaluate the character and quality of archaeological data associated with Dark Age societies
•to locate, extract and assemble data and information with minimal guidance
•to develop independent interpretations of material through self-directed research
•to provide a critical reading of course material, and to debate their conclusions in class discussions
•to synthesise wide-ranging material and articulate an argument effectively, in an assessed essay, and orally in seminar presentations.

Additional outcomes:
This module promotes an awareness of inter-disciplinarity in medieval studies. Seminar presentations, critical reviews and the development of an individual essay topic encourage independent learning, as well as communication skills, personal responsibility, and teamwork in discussion groups.

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:
The main geographical emphasis of this module is on the British Isles, but is also considers 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.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 10
Guided independent study 180
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
One 5,000-word essay. Students are encouraged to formulate their own topic.

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:
Re-submission of coursework by the end of August

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: 23 July 2018


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