ARMS10-Human Bioarchaeology

Module Provider: Archaeology
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded: ARMSHB Introduction to Human Bioarchaeology
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Mary Lewis


Summary module description:
This highly practical module will introduce the key methods employed in the examination of human remains from archaeological sites and utilise skeletal collections held by the Department of Archaeology. The theory and application of estimates of sex, age, stature and pathological indicators will be explored. The way in which such information has been used to understand past populations, using the biocultural approach, will be identified and discussed. You will also be taught to identify and side fragments commonly encountered during an archaeological excavation, and post-excavation analysis. Students on period-based Masters programmes will follow a Medieval ‘stream’ in their reading and assignments. The key texts for this module are:
Roberts C, and Cox M. 2003. Health and Disease in Britain. Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing Ltd.
White T, and Folkens P. 2005. The Human Bone Manual. New York: Academic Press.

This module aims to provide a practical and theoretical grounding in the current study of human skeletal remains from archaeological sites, with particular focus on health and disease.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module, it is expected that the student will be able to:
• critically evaluate the nature and quality of the skeletal evidence, and explain how it can be used to infer aspects of lifestyle in the past
• carry out an independent assessment of age, sex and stature on adult human skeletal remains
• identify and describe, using professional terminology, the range of pathological changes on the skeleton
• write a professional skeletal report
• understand and critically appraise theoretical and practical approaches to the subject and current issues and debates
• demonstrate independent learning and to articulate an argument orally and in writing, the latter through coursework

Additional outcomes:
The practicals and discussions encourage the students to make use of and to develop their oral skills. The requirement to search for and locate information independently will provide opportunities for students to develop their research and ITC skills.

Outline content:
Students will be introduced to the key methods employed by biological anthropologists in the examination of human remains, from their excavation, to the estimation of age, sex, ancestry and stature. The development, advantages and limitations of these methods will be explored. Palaeopathology is the study of the history of disease using primary data from human remains, and secondary sources such as archaeological, environmental, ethnographic, iconographic, documentary and clinical data. It takes a multidisciplinary approach linking biological evidence with clinical data. This module will explore various themes in human osteology and palaeopathology such as the rise of respiratory infection, evidence for diet, child representation and health, and the impact of urbanisation in the later periods. In addition, through practical sessions, students will also be taught to identify human material from non-human, and to identify and side fragmentary remains commonly encountered during an archaeological excavation, and post-excavation analysis, as part of their vocational training.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Weekly illustrated lectures will be supported practical sessions and discussions based on preparatory reading and research

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 23
Practicals classes and workshops 22
Guided independent study 155
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 30
Report 50
Class test administered by School 20

Other information on summative assessment:
There will be a laboratory test at the end of the module based on skills learned in ageing, sexing, stature estimation, and identification of fragments and pathological lesions. In addition to the professional skeletal report, students will submit a 2500 word essay based on a subject to be chosen in negotiation with the convener.

Formative assessment methods:
In each of the practical sessions, you will be tested on your knowledge of human skeletal anatomy and the use of terminology through informal discussions with the other students and module convenor. In this way you will be provided with immediate feedback on your progression, and ways in which you can improve your skills. Students will have the option of submitting their lab assignments (i.e. recording dental disease) to the module convenor for formative feedback. Throughout this module, students will be encouraged to present their findings to the rest of the class. In-class oral presentations will test your correct use of terminology and provide direct feedback in preparation for your skeletal 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:
50% overall

Reassessment arrangements:
Resubmission of coursework in August/September

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

1) Required text books

Last updated: 31 March 2017

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