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Exploring the Archaeology of Ely and Caerau

Level 0 (CQFW Level 3), 10 Credits.

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Are you interested in local history and archaeology? The Ely district has an amazing history dating back to before the Roman invasion of Britain, including the massive Iron-Age hillfort at Caerau, recently excavated by Channel 4’s Time Team. This is an exciting new course which will help you to discover Ely’s hidden past. Through stimulating and fun classes and field trips you’ll learn more about the fascinating archaeology on your doorstep; developing new skills and an understanding of the methods involved in archaeological discovery.

Course structure:

Classroom session 1: General introduction to the course. Covers what archaeology is, what archaeologists do, and basic periodisation (the order in which things happened)

Classroom session 2: In this session, we discuss how archaeologists can find out what date their site or find is. Particularly, we introduce radiocarbon dating to show that even scientific methods rely on our interpretation and expertise to work.

Classroom session 3: Covers the basics of survey and excavation. In a short exercise, students will be able to undertake a virtual excavation of a site in the classroom to familiarise themselves with the kinds of decision involved.

Field trip 1: On this trip students are introduced to a range of archaeology in Caerau and Ely covering a range of periods from the Neolithic to twentieth century. Students will be encouraged to examine and make observations of the archaeological sites and then make interpretations based upon what they can see.

Field trip 2: On this trip students will have the opportunity to survey and record a small archaeological site in Caerau. Basic survey methods will be demonstrated and a record of the site will be made.

Who is this course for?

Anyone who is interested in local history and archaeology. The course will provide an opportunity for students to learn how and why archaeologists study the past and to introduce students to the historic environment (archaeology) of their local area. It will also help to develop key skills – for instance, IT, analysis, recording, teamwork – and to encourage and provide opportunities for students to discover more for themselves about their local archaeology and history.

Learning and Teaching

The course is taught in three, two-hour classroom sessions, delivered weekly, and two Saturday field trips. This includes the following teaching and learning methods: lectures; discussion and group work; field trips.
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.

There will be no formal examinations but there will be three pieces of assessment:

Assessment 1 is a short class quiz on archaeology as a discipline and on the archaeological sequence: what happened when. This will demonstrate that students have understood the basics of what archaeologists study.

Assessment 2 is based on a case study discussed as part of group work in class. Students are asked to write a short paragraph on how they would select samples for radiocarbon dating. This demonstrates their ability to think critically about a specific problem, as well as to find arguments in support of their answer.

Assessment 3 is a short portfolio. Students are required to survey and record a small archaeological site and produce field notes including a measured sketch plan, location details and a short description.

Your work will be assessed by your tutor, who will offer you written feedback which we hope you will find constructive. The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning. Our methods are flexible and 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.

Reading suggestions

  1. The tutor will recommend books, articles and web sources.

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.