Human Environmental Interactions (ARCM401)

StaffProfessor Jose Iriarte - Convenor
Professor Alan Outram - Lecturer
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.50
NQF Level7
Duration of Module

Module aims

The module aims to (a) review fundamental anthropological and ecological concepts and methods that are critical for analysing human environmental interactions; (b) demonstrate the range of palaeoenvironmental evidence that can be used to reconstruct the character of and usage of past landscapes; and (c) critically analyse archaeological and contemporary case studies in order to develop an understanding of human environmental interactions through time in different environments.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate systematic understanding of fundamental anthropological and ecological concepts and methods that are critical for analysing human environmental interactions
  • 2. Demonstrate a critical awareness of the methodological aspects of commonly used environmental techniques
  • 3. Critically evaluate and select appropriate palaeoenvironmental methods for particular landscapes and sites

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Demonstrate scientific reasoning at a high level
  • 5. Evaluate methodologies for differentiating between multiple factors and select the most appropriate

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Bring personal scientific understanding to a high level
  • 7. Adhere to deadlines
  • 8. Present information orally with appropriate visual aids

Syllabus plan

1. Introduction/ Historic currents in human environmental interactions 2. Recent perspectives: Human Behavioral Ecology and Historical Ecology 3. Student led seminar on human environmental interactions theory 4. Environmental reconstruction principles and site types 5. Botanical analysis: environmental reconstruction from pollen, phytolith and charcoal analysis 6. Faunal remains: vertebrate, insect and molluscan remains Molecular and isotopic evidence: ices cores, deep sea cores, residues and human dietary studies. 7. Integrating different types of paleoenvironmental data 8. Case Studies I: Sutton Common: integrating palaeoenvironmental data with high-resolution dating Case Studies II: From the laboratory to the field: reconstructing environments and environmental change 9. Case Studies III: Documenting early plant domestication and agricultural landscapes in the Americas Case Studies IV: The development of domestic horse cultures and pastoralism in Central Asia 10. Student led seminar on environmental reconstruction case studies

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 activities16lecture and practical elements
Scheduled learning and teaching activities4Seminar classes

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Preparation for, and contribution to, seminar discussions

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
Essay60 2,000 words plus illustrations and graphs
Oral presentation 40

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Concepts and theory: Dove, M.R and Carpenter, C. 2007: Environmental Anthropology: A Reader. Routledge.

Hornborg, A. and Crumley, C. 2007: The World System and the Earth System. Global socioenvironmental change and sustainability since the Neolithic. Altamira Press.

Moran, E. F. 2006. People and Nature: An introduction to human ecological relations. Wiley-Blackwell.

Readman, C. 1999: Human impact on ancient environments. University of Arizona Press. Methods and techniques:

Bell, M. and Walker, M. J. 2005: Late Quaternary environmental change: physical and human perspectives. Pearson/Prentice Hall. 2nd Edition.

O'Connor, and T. Evans, J. 2005: Environmental Archaeology: Principles and Methods. Stroud: Sutton

Pearsall, D. 2000: Paleoethnobotany: A Handbook of Procedures. Academic Press.

Reitz, E.J. and Wing, E.A. 2008. Zooarchaeology 2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wilkinson, K. and Stevens, C. 2008: Environmental Archaeology. Approaches, Techniques, and Applications. Tempus. Indicative web based resources

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Origin date


Key words search

Archaeology, Human, Environment