Postgraduate taught 

Archaeology MSc

Past Imperfect, Present Tense: A Practical Historiography of the Past PGT ARCH5116

  • 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

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 advanced 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).

Excluded Courses

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




Reflexive essay (2,000 words) - 30%

Project portfolio - 60%

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

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 advanced 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:

■ Critically analyse and reflect on the historical context in which archaeology developed as a discipline, how it has impacted the ways in which we study the past and the narratives that are communicated to the wider public.

■ Critically interrogate 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 complex 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.