Archaeology BSc/MA/MA(SocSci)

People in a Changing World ARCH4076

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Taught Wholly by Distance Learning: Yes

Short Description

This module provides an overview of how societies responded to climatic and environmental changes in the past and introduce students to the principles of environmental change; the techniques used to reconstruct past environments, including chronological uncertainty and to critically consider how we link climate and environmental change during the Quaternary with periods and activities of archaeological interest. The course will use problem-based approaches: students will be taught and gain confidence in handling and analysing relevant datasets that they will then interpret in the form of reports. They will focus on discussing the nature and significance of archaeological datasets and critically evaluate cause and effect when linking archaeology and environmental change.


6x1hr seminars, 14x1hr workshops over 10 weeks as scheduled in MyCampus. This is an honours optional courses in Archaeology and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Excluded Courses





Critique (1500 words) 30% 

Report 1 (1500 words) (30%), with data handling and numerical analysis to be done by the class in workshops and personal report write up;

Report 2 (2000 words) (40%), with data handling and numerical analysis to be done by individual students and written up as individuals.


Each assignment will be incremental and allow the students to apply what they have learnt in each prior assignment and will be designed to test their abilities to meet the module's intended learning outcomes.

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Review the principles of climate and environmental change over the course of the Quaternary, including the processes that drive climate and anthropogenic change

■ Review the techniques we use to reconstruct past environments, including understanding chronological uncertainty

■ Understand of how we link climate and environmental change during the Quaternary with periods, events and activities of archaeological interest and gain an understanding of the main debates of interest

■ Develop numeracy skills, through the practice of using simple to more complex data analytical methods for analysing environmental and archaeological records and learning to display these in a variety of platforms

■ Introduce the use of online databases for asking powerful archaeological research questions around environmental change

■ Develop team working skills during in-class activities and exercises

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Understand and utilise the diverse range of proxy evidence and approaches that palaeo environmentalists use for interpreting the archaeological and long-term record, and their interpretational challenges;

■ Display an understanding of the main ways in which organisms, ecosystems and landscapes behave in response to anthropogenic, ecological and climate changes over the Quaternary period; and the main processes of environmental change;

■ Understand how environmental changes impacted past societies and how we link environmental and archaeological records critically;

■ Present and analyse relevant scientific datasets, using relevant analytical approaches and assess the reliability and validity of these;

■ Compare scientific datasets relevant to the archaeological record and present these in written report form, individually and as part of in-class work;

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

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