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Settlements, Monuments, Agriculture: An Introduction to British Prehistory

Level 4, 10 Credits.

Available Dates:

This course is currently not being offered in the academic year 2015 - 2016.

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For the greater part of human prehistory, people in Britain were hunter-gatherers, living in small groups in seasonal and mobile settlements.  But around 4000BC a great change occurred – people first started to farm the land and keep domesticated animals, live in larger, permanent houses and settlements and build great monuments, like Stonehenge, to venerate the ancestors. The module is designed to introduce students to the main themes and developments of British Prehistory, from the beginnings of agriculture in the Neolithic, to the first uses of metal in the Bronze and Iron Ages, through to the coming of the Romans. The module is structured around themes which include agriculture, monuments, worldviews, settlement, materiality and social differentiation. It will involve the examination of changes in human society via selected key sites and regional case studies.

Sessions will present some basic information but will concentrate on how this information is open to various interpretations. There will also be analysis of specific sites drawn from throughout Britain highlighting problems of interpretation.

Course schedule

Week 1: Introduction: What is prehistory?

Week 2: The introduction of agriculture

Week 3: Early Neolithic monuments

Week 4: Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age rites

Week 5: Living in prehistoric houses: practical/social; temporary/permanent

Week 6: Settling down: settlement in the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age

Week 7: Dividing the land: farming the land

Week 8: Axes, ceramics and metals: objects in prehistory

Week 9: Death and burial in the Iron Age

Week 10: What have the Romans ever done for us? The end of prehistoric Britain

Who is this course for?

Anyone with an interest in the topic. No previous knowledge of the subject is assumed.

Learning and Teaching

Learning and teaching are undertaken by means of small group work. This is a 10-credit course, so there will be two-hour meetings once a week (20 contact hours in all) which will include group discussion, exercises, source analysis and presentation of material on video and/or DVD. The aim is ensure that the classes are enjoyable and stimulating for all. This will encourage the development of knowledge and understanding of the topics and ideas discussed in the course.

Coursework and Assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved. Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning. Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

You will not have a formal examination but you will be asked to produce some written work (1500 words). This may include a set of short responses to questions (for example, three pieces examining three key archaeological sites) or a more extended essay.

Reading suggestions

Key texts

Recommended texts

Library and Computing Facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University library and computing facilities. You can find out more about these facilities on our website under Student Information, or by ringing the Centre on

(029) 2087 0000.

Accessibility of Courses

Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and Dyslexia screening. Please contact the Centre on (029) 2087 0000 for an information leaflet.

Further Information

A range of further information can be found on our web site or in Choices.  This includes the times and dates of courses and an explanation of accreditation and credit levels.