Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

The Archaeology of Life & Death ARCH4015

  • Academic Session: 2021-22
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course explores various aspects of the human life-cycle from birth to the final rite of passage, death.  An anthropological and embodied perspective is adopted that acknowledges the importance of age in the construction of social identity.


2 hrs per week comprising lectures, assigned readings and class discussions. This is one of the honours optional courses in Archaeology and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Mandatory Entry Requirements

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into Archaeology, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes.


Written examination (50%; two questions from a 2-hour paper); essay or self-directed essay/project on topic agreed with and approved by course convenor (c.2500 words, worth 30%); oral presentation to class and short (1000 word) written report (20%) on assigned readings.

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

·To present a series of case studies that situate and explore rites of passage in the archaeological record
·To outline theoretical and interpretative approaches to the human life-cycle
·To challenge notions of legitimate knowledge and outline alternative agendas

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

The learning outcomes for this module are for students to:
·have an understanding and appreciation of anthropological and biographical approaches to the past. This will be assessed by the self-directed project, and in the final exam.
·be able to evaluate critically the contribution archaeology can make to writing about the human life-course and be knowledgeable about rites of passage and their archaeological expression. These will be primarily assessed in the final exam.
·understand the value of different interpretative stances. This will be assessed in the seminar sections and self-directed project.
·gain experience of presenting research topics to others and participate in group discussion. This will be assessed in the seminar presentation.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.