History MA/MA(SocSci)

Landscape and Power in the Ancient Near East and East Mediterranean ARCH4009

  • Academic Session: 2021-22
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course explores a series of key issues related to the spatial production and negotiation of socio-political power in early complex societies in the Near East and East Mediterranean between ca. 3500 and 330 BC. The course draws primarily on archaeological survey evidence and historical and iconographic sources to examine the spatial constitution of political power in comparative cases of state-formation and imperial expansion and resistance.


Two hours each week for 10 weeks, including 8 hours of formal lectures, ca. 8 to 9 hours (depending on group size and number of student presentations) of group discussion based on assigned readings, and ca. 3 to 4 hours hours of assessed student presentations.


Seminar presentation (10 minutes) and written report (1000 words) reviewing a survey project or synthetic landscape/settlement study (20%)

Essay (2500 words) on an approved topic 30%

Exam (2 questions in 2 hours) 50%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which 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

■ provide an overview of the archaeology and major socio-political developments in the Near East and East Mediterranean between ca. 3500 - 330 BC

■ investigate key issues in the study of landscapes and settlement patterns with regard to political organisation

■ explore different theoretical and methodological frameworks for the analysis of landscapes and their socio-political significance through specific case studies

■ investigate and evaluate a range of different sources - archaeological, textual and iconographic, with a special emphasis on field survey techniques and methods for the analysis of political landscapes

provide opportunities for students to develop transferable skills of analysis, presentation and communication

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

■ demonstrate an understanding of the principle settlement types and characteristic settlement distributions in the Near East and East Mediterranean between ca. 3500 - 330 BC. This will be assessed through the exam and the review.

■ critically evaluate field survey methods and results with respect to different Mediterranean and Near Eastern environments. This will be assessed through the review and the exam.

■ demonstrate a general understanding of the role of landscape and urban space in the production and negotiation of social and political power. This will be assessed through the exam, the essay and the seminar presentation.

■ show familiarity with a variety of sources of evidence, including archaeological, textual and iconographic, their advantages and biases as well as an understanding of how these may be combined. This will be assessed through the exam, the essay and the seminar presentation.

■ demonstrate an understanding of some of the theoretical approaches to states, empires and their spatial dimensions. This will be assessed through the exam and the essay.

demonstrate competence, appropriate to Honours level, in the formulation and presentation of arguments on prescribed topics. This will be assessed through the review, essay and seminar presentation.

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.