Material Culture (ARCM300)

StaffDr Marisa Lazzari - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

  • To provide a solid grounding in archaeological approaches to material culture, and to explore alternative perspectives from a range of disciplines, including anthropology, sociology and psychology. 
  • To provide a wide range of analytical, descriptive and interpretive skills enabling  a well-rounded training suitable for research, museum studies, and artefact analyses in a professional environment.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Critically evaluate the interactions between archaeology and other disciplines in the interpretation
  • 2. Integrate complex theoretical issues with detailed case studies, taking methodological issues into
  • 3. Demonstrate comprehensive understanding of the range and complexity of processes underlying

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Deal with complex questions both systematically and imaginatively
  • 5. Present clearly structured, well written and appropriately illustrated arguments

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Show initiative and originality in tackling and solving research problems
  • 7. Take part in group discussions, posing pertinent questions
  • 8. Organise work efficiently with respect to deadlines
  • 9. Learn to give and receive constructive criticism

Syllabus plan

The module will include topics such as:

  • Introduction and history: 
  • Material culture today
  • Encounters and interactions
  • Material culture and memory
  • Evolutionary perspectives: being human
  • Artefacts, taskscapes and landscapes
  • Agency, functionality and meaning – what objects do 
  • Skill, transmission and learning
  • Object biographies: the social life of things

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities2211 x 2 hour seminars
Guided independent study128Independent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Class presentation on case study or artefact/s15 minute powerpoint presentation2,7,8,9Oral feedback
Draft plan of final essay1500 words max1-6, 8-9Individual feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay: demonstrate critical awareness of a key theoretical issue in material culture. 1004000 words1-6, 8-9Written feedback and opportunity for individual discussion

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay 4000 wordsEssay 4000 words1-6, 8-9Refer/Defer period

Re-assessment notes

Deferred reassessment: extend deadlines according to circumstances

Referred reassessment: replacement title for the essay

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Braudillard, J. 2005. The System of Objects. London: Verso Books
  • Buchli, V., ed. 2002. The Material Culture Reader. Oxford: Berg
  • Gell, A. 1998. Art and Agency. Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • Graves-Brown, P., ed. 2000. Matter, Materiality and Modern Culture. London: Routledge
  • Hodder, I. 2012. Entanglement. An Archaeology of the relationships between human and things. Jon Wyley & sons       
  • Hurcombe, L. 2007. Archaeological Artefacts as Material Culture. London: Routledge
  • Ingold, T. 2000. The Perception of the Environment: Essays in Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. London. Routledge
  • Ingold, T. 2013. Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Architecture. Routledge.
  • Knappett, C. 2005. Thinking Through Material Culture: An Interdisciplinary Perspective. Philadelphia: Penn Press
  • Meskell, L. 2005. Archaeologies of Materiality. John Wiley & sons
  • Miller, D. 2005. Materiality. Duke University Press
  • Norman, D. 1998. The Design of Everyday Things. London: MIT Press
  • Tilley, C. 1999. Metaphor and Material Culture. Oxford: Blackwell
  • Renfrew, C. & C. Scarre, eds. 1998. Cognition and Material Culture: The Archaeology of storage. Cambridge: McDonald Institute Monographs

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?


Origin date

November 2011

Last revision date


Key words search

Material Culture, Archaeology