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.

Past Imperfect, Present Tense: A Practical Historiography of the Past Hons ARCH4078

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course critically explores archaeology's colonial past from a local (Scottish), international (Mediterranean and Middle Eastern) and ontological position. Taking a co-creative and practice-based approach, students will work on a real-world public engagement project in small groups and put together a curated portfolio of individual and group work that demonstrates their analytical, research, and public engagement skills.


This is a blended learning course consisting of 5 weeks of lectures and seminars (2h per week), followed by 4 weeks of supervised, student-led project-based work (2h per week) with a final presentation of the projects at the end of the course (2h final session).

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into Archaeology, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.


Reflexive essay (2,000 words) - 30%

Project portfolio - 60%

Project group presentation of 15 minutes (5% group mark and 5% individual mark) - 10%

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will 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

This course aims to:

■ Critically explore the Western, colonial legacy of archaeology, particularly around its theories, methods, and wider socio-political context.

■ Equip students with core theoretical knowledge and skills to investigate historical and methodological bias in the study of the past.

■ Provide opportunities for students to develop practical skills and creative approaches involved in the professional design, development, and communication of public engagement projects in archaeology and heritage, in a real-world setting.

■ Develop the ability to work independently and as part of a team through co-creatively designed project-based work. 

■ Enhance employability through developing social and cultural competence skills which are relevant to the archaeology and heritage sector and transferable to other contexts.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Explain how the historical context in which archaeology developed as a discipline impacted the way in which we study the past and the narratives that are communicated to the wider public.

■ Critically engage with and reflect on the close association between archaeology and present-day structures such as class, colonialism, ethnicity, and gender.

■ Work independently and as part of a team on a real-world public engagement project and demonstrate professional practical skills. 

■ Formulate arguments and communicate ideas effectively in written and oral form on a topic of their choosing.

■ Demonstrate in practice an ethical and social awareness of archaeology's role in a contemporary setting.

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.