Palaeoanthropology MSc

  • Programme duration: Full-time: 12 months   Part-time: 24 months
  • Programme start: September 2020
  • Entry requirements: You will require a good 2:1 or equivalent undergraduate degree should be in Archaeology, Anthropology or  related fields such as (but not limited to) some science subjects (Biological, Physics, Geology, Geophysical), History and Geography.
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Module details

Compulsory modules

Frameworks of Human Evolution (ALGY663)
LevelM
Credit level30
SemesterFirst Semester
Exam:Coursework weighting0:100
Aims

This module aims to foster the learning skills essential for advanced study and writing, especially those of reviewing material, and preparing a bibliography to go with a research exercise; Students will become familiar with the issues surrounding the major early hominid and early archaeological sites; Students will become familiar with the nature of early hominid settings and the evidence preserved; Students will become familiar with the potential and limits of inferences about early hominid behaviour; For students to acquire and strengthen skills engendered by critical reading of select sources and presentation in discussion.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) By the end of the module students should be familiar with the major frameworks of human evolution, and be equipped with the research skills necessary for their study.

(LO2) Students will be familiar with the major early hominid / hominin and early archaeological sites.

(LO3) Students will be familiar with the framework for current debates in early human evolution concerning the period before 0.5 million years ago.

(LO4) Students will be familiar with the potential for and limits of inferences about early hominin behaviour from material remains (fossils and material culture) with a particular emphasis on lithic technology.

(LO5) Students will be able to build upon skills in the critical evaluation of the relevant archaeological, geological and palaeontological texts.

(LO6) Students will be able to strengthen the skills required to review material presented by others; structure and present effective seminars and written essays and prepare scientific bibliographies.

(LO7) Students will be able to recognise features of artefacts and assemblages (usually lithic) which can be used to infer hominin behaviour.

(S1) Problem solving/ critical thinking/ creativity analysing facts and situations and applying creative thinking to develop appropriate solutions.

(S2) Communication skills

Ace MA and MSc Dissertation (ALGY600)
LevelM
Credit level60
SemesterSummer (June-September)
Exam:Coursework weighting0:100
Aims

This module aims to give you the opportunity to produce a lengthy piece of work ( 15000-20000 words *) on a topic of your choice. * Footnotes, bibliography and appendices are included in the word count; The module dissertation will enhance your abilities in the realms of collection, analysis and interpretation of primary material, and the development of critical response in the use of secondary sources; The purpose of the MA dissertation is to demonstrate that you can identify an issue or problem, research, assemble and analyse the available evidence, present convincing and coherent arguments on the basis of that evidence, and locate the results within the broader context of modern scholarship. The dissertation should be based at least in part on primary data or sources, and the choice of topic must take into account the accessibility of such materials.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Identify a research-related issue or problem.

(LO2) Design and conduct a scheme of work to explore that issue.

(LO3) Assemble, analyse and appropriately cite both academic literature (references) and primary evidence (sources).

(LO4) Present a coherent and clear set of data and arguments in order to analyse and interpret the data.

(LO5) Use evidence to unfold a continuous and coherent argument that will enable them to make conclusions relating to the problem stated in the introduction of the dissertation.

(S1) Produce a text written and presented to a professional standard

(S2) Communication (oral, written and visual) - Academic writing (including referencing skills)

(S3) Critical thinking and problem solving - Critical analysis

(S4) Time and project management - Project management

Optional modules

Research Themes in the Neolithic of the Near East (ALGY656)
LevelM
Credit level15
SemesterFirst Semester
Exam:Coursework weighting0:100
Aims

This module aims to examine the conceptual frameworks and research methods used in investigating the development of the world's first agricultural, pastoralist and sedentary communities, all changes fundamental to the development of complex and modern society.  The module aims to explore the behaviours of these 'Neolithic' communities across the Near East and Europe. We will question when these phenomena appeared, why they might have appeared and how human societies responded to their new opportunities and pressures;        The module aims to examine how much distinctive ritual practices, art, new forms of identity and new sorts of engagements with their landscapes characterized these communities. The West Eurasia scope of the module will provide and opportunity to see how much Neolithic behaviour varied as it first developed and then spread from the Near East (SW Asia) into Europe;            The module will identify key themes in current research into the Neolithic and provide students some choice about the themes upon which we will focus. The module thus aims to develop an understanding of the problems and potential of a range of research tools available to a rchaeology in gaining an understanding of these changes and knowledge of ancillary disciplines relating to human palaeoecology, archaeobotany and archaeozoology;      The module aims to engage students with the research approaches and practices that typify the investigation of key issues in European and Near Eastern prehistory, including an evaluation of primary archaeological evidence;      The module aims to promote and enable the development of students' critical and analytical approach to evidence and the combined use of different sources of evidence;      The module aims to promote and enable the development of students' ability to construct and express effective verbal and written argument at a research level.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Students successfully completing the module will achieve an understanding of key research issues in the Neolithic of Europe and the Near East as well as the origins of agriculture more generally. They will have engaged with some of the relevant primary source material/data relevant to these issues. They will themselves have conducted research relevant to these issues on a small scale. Students successfully completing the module will appreciate some of the methodological issues of using archaeological evidence as sources for understanding such early societies.

(LO2) Students successfully completing the module will achieve an understanding of when sedentism and farming appeared, why they might have appeared and how human societies responded to their new opportunities and pressures.

(LO3) Students successfully completing the module will develop an understanding of the problems and potential of a range of research tools available to archaeology in gaining an understanding of changes in human behaviour in the Neolithic and knowledge of ancillary disciplines relating to human palaeoecology, archaeobotany and archaeozoology.

(LO4) Students successfully completing the module will further develop critical and analytical approaches to evidence and the combined use of different sources of evidence.

(LO5) Students successfully completing the module will further develop their ability to construct and express effective verbal and written argument.

(LO6) The module also enables students to foster transferable skills (not all directly tested in the assessment), e.g. listening and note-taking skills; analytical reading; identification, recall and deployment of material relevant to a particular question; awareness of controversy in technical literature; succinct written exposition; succinct oral presentation and discussion of prepared material; time-management.

(S1) Research skills - All Information skills

(S2) Communication (oral, written and visual) - Presentation skills – oral.

(S3) Communication (oral, written and visual) - Presentation skills - written.

(S4) Improving own learning/performance - Reflective practice.

(S5) Time and project management - Personal organisation.

(S6) Critical thinking and problem solving - Critical analysis.

(S7) Critical thinking and problem solving - Synthesis.

(S8) Research skills - Awareness of /commitment to academic integrity.

Deciphering Symbols: Approaches to An Understanding of the Earliest Symbolic Behaviour (ALGY761)
LevelM
Credit level15
SemesterSecond Semester
Exam:Coursework weighting0:100
Aims

This module seeks to provide students with an understanding of the role of symbolism in definitions of modern humans;

This module aims to provide students with an understanding of a diversity of specialist approaches to the recognition and interpretation of symbolism;

This module aims to provide students with a critical appreciation of the strengths and weakness of symbolic interpretations of the earliest 'symbolic artefacts'.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Students will gain an understanding of the importance of symbolic behaviour to a definition of modern human behaviour

(LO2) Students will gain a critical appreciation of competing approaches to, and definitions of artistic and symbolic behaviour

(LO3) Students will gain a critical appreciation of different models for the origins of symbolic behaviour in hominins

(LO4) Students will gain a critical appreciation of methods for the recording and analysis of the archaeological evidence of symbolic behaviour

(LO5) Students will learn to integrate specific bodies of archaeological evidence into sociological and anthropological models of early hominin  life

(LO6) Students will learn to critically appreciate the material and technological complexities in producing early parietal art images

(LO7) Students will critically assess the interpretation of a form of symbolic material culture as a case study

(S1) Communication (oral, written and visual) - Academic writing (inc. referencing skills)

(S2) Communication (oral, written and visual) - Presentation skills – oral

(S3) Communication (oral, written and visual) - Influencing skills – argumentation

(S4) Information skills - Critical reading

(S5) Working in groups and teams - Time management

Human Osteology (ALGY762)
LevelM
Credit level15
SemesterSecond Semester
Exam:Coursework weighting0:100
Aims

To provide students taking this module with a general background in human osteology of bioarchaeological material with reference to the reconstruction of the human skeleton. Students will be introduced to the laboratory techniques and debates currently surrounding the analysis of human remains from archaeological sites.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Students will learn how to identify the individual bones of adult and juvenile skeletons and will learn how to determine age and sex and other aspects of human remains analysis in archaeology. This will be achieved through establishing a background in the technique from hands-on handling classes and by introductory lectures where relevant.

(LO2) Students will understand the contribution made by human osteology to a subject of their choice

(S1) Communication (oral, written and visual) - Presentation skills - written

(S2) Research skills - All Information skills

(S3) Research skills - Ethical awareness

(S4) Communication (oral, written and visual) - Report writing

Becoming 'modern' (ALGY764)
LevelM
Credit level15
SemesterSecond Semester
Exam:Coursework weighting0:100
Aims

To provide a forum for discussing current conceptual and methodological issues arising from the concept of 'behavioural modernity';

To develop a critical awareness of interdisciplinary perspectives on modernity to explore and applyalternative approaches to understanding variability in the archaeological record.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) a critical awareness of differing perspectives on behavioural and anatomical modernity

(LO2) familiarity with analytical frameworks drawn from behavioural ecology and cultural transmission theory

(LO3) an awareness of central issues in the later archaeological records (mid-to-late Pleistocene) of Africa, Europe and Asia

(LO4) confidence in discussing and developing ideas in a small group

(S1) Self-management readiness to accept responsibility (i.e. leadership), flexibility, resilience, self-starting, initiative, integrity, willingness to take risks, appropriate assertiveness, time management, readiness to improve own performance based on feedback/reflective learning

(S2) Problem solving/ critical thinking/ creativity analysing facts and situations and applying creative thinking to develop appropriate solutions.

(S3) Literacy application of literacy, ability to produce clear, structured written work and oral literacy - including listening and questioning

(S4) Information technology (application of) adopting, adapting and using digital devices, applications and services

(S5) Problem solving/ critical thinking/ creativity analysing facts and situations and applying creative thinking to develop appropriate solutions.

(S6) Communication, listening and questioning respecting others, contributing to discussions, communicating in a foreign language, influencing, presentations

(S7) Positive attitude/ self-confidence A 'can-do' approach, a readiness to take part and contribute; openness to new ideas and the drive to make these happen

Statistics for Biological Research (LIFE763)
LevelM
Credit level15
SemesterFirst Semester
Exam:Coursework weighting30:70
Aims

To introduce and advance knowledge of a range of statistical tests that are commonly used in the Biosciences;

To give experience in the implementation of these tests using statistical and programming software;

To enable students to learn how to interpret and analyse the output of these tests.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) To develop an understanding of  statistical hypothesis testing;

(LO2) To apply a range of relevant statistical tests to complex datasets to draw statistical conclusions;

(LO3) To critically assess the appropriateness of a statistical test;

(LO4) To intepret and report data collected in biological research.

(LO5) To develop programming skills relevant for statistical analysis.

(S1) Numeracy (application of) manipulation of numbers, general mathematical awareness and its application in practical contexts (eg measuring, weighing, estimating and applying formulae);

(S2) Problem solving, critical thinking, creativity; analysing facts and situations and applying creative thinking to develop appropriate solutions.


This is very much a multidisciplinary degree, and we are happy for students to build bespoke courses for themselves. We are particularly proud of our courses in Biology, Psychology, and Anatomy.