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

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • 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 teaching2211 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, 7-9Oral feedback
Draft plan of final essay1500 words maximum1-6, 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 culture1004000 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 words)Essay (4000 words)1-6, 8-9Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%. The referred assessment will be a 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?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Available as distance learning?


Origin date

November 2011

Last revision date


Key words search

Material Culture, Archaeology