Postgraduate taught 

Ancient Cultures MSc

Climate and Civilisation ARCH5074

  • Academic Session: 2018-19
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

Archaeology provides us with a unique long-term perspective for examining changing climatic and environmental conditions and human responses to them, and to contextualise the current debate on climate change in a much broader comparative framework. This course explores some of the key themes in the relationship between climate, environment and human societies from the Palaeolithic to the modern era using specific archaeological, historical and ethnographic case studies from across the world, albeit with a Mediterranean and Near Eastern focus.


Weekly 2-hour seminars over 10 weeks.

Requirements of Entry

Standard Entry to Masters at College level.

Excluded Courses





2 Essays (2500 words each).

Course Aims

This course aims to: 

■ investigate key issues in the study of human-environment interaction with a special focus on climate change

■ apply a range of theoretical perspectives to the causes of climate change and the role of human societies in these processes

■ provide an introduction to key analytical methods for the reconstruction of paleoclimates

■ investigate and evaluate a range of different sources on climate change and its causes, as well as the social and economic responses of a range of past and more recent societies, using specific case studies from across the world but with a Mediterranean and Near Eastern focus

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ demonstrate an understanding of the key issues of past climate change, its causes and its effects on human societies of different social and economic organisation

■ evaluate different theoretical perspectives on the nature of human-environment/climate relations

■ demonstrate an understanding of a range of analytical methods used in the investigation of paleoclimates and human effects on and responses to it

■ demonstrate good familiarity with a variety of sources of evidence for the reconstruction of past climates, climate change and the social and economic dimensions of these processes

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.