Postgraduate taught 

Archaeology MSc

Modern Warfare: 19th and 20th Century Warfare ARCH5016

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This course will provide students with an introduction to the military history and archaeology of the modern era, from the use of the musket in the Napoleonic period to the mass destruction of the First and Second World Wars and beyond. The course will use numerous archaeologically and internationally based case studies to present an overview of warfare in this period, with a special emphasis being placed on large body of work carried out by the Centre on sites as diverse as the battlefield of Waterloo and the conflict landscapes of the Falklands War.


1 hr lecture with 1 hr seminar once a week over 10 weeks

Excluded Courses





Two 2,500 word essays, 50% weighting each

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ introduce students to the military history of the modern period (early 19th to late 20th centuries), focusing on a variety of conflicts from different regions of the world through the material remains.

■ demonstrate the major developments in military technology and battlefield tactics during the period and assess their impact on our understanding of the archaeological record.

■ provide an introduction in the types of documentary sources available to the archaeologist and historian of the period (these will include official accounts, letters and journals, order books, contemporary maps, newspaper accounts, poetry and song, paintings and drawings, aerial photography, etc.)

■ Using case studies, to present an overview of the archaeology of warfare in the modern period.

■ Provide, where relevant, a social background to the conflicts studied via aspects of the non-military archaeology of the period.

■ introduce students to the issues of cultural resource management of modern conflict sites.

■ introduce students to the issues of the archaeology of recent conflicts eg WWII/Falklands War.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ analyse critically the historical background to warfare in the modern period.

■ recognise and interpret material culture relevant to the study of the conflict and battlefield archaeology of the modern period (early 19th century to late 20th century).

■ assess and utilise the historical and archaeological sources available and critique the interplay between these sources in providing a framework for the interpretation of modern conflicts.

■ evaluate and interpret cultural heritage as it pertains to modern warfare.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

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