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AY5011: ANCIENT BIOMOLECULES (2022-2023)

Last modified: 31 May 2022 13:22


Course Overview

This course provides a broad introduction to the field of Biomolecular Archaeology and the study of ancient biomolecules. In a series of lectures, seminars and practicals, you will learn key theoretical concepts, principles, and laboratory methods underpinning state-of-the-art research on ancient biomolecules, such as DNA, proteins and lipids

Course Details

Study Type Postgraduate Level 5
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
Co-ordinators
  • Dr Linus Girdland Flink

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Any Postgraduate Programme

What other courses must be taken with this course?

None.

What courses cannot be taken with this course?

None.

Are there a limited number of places available?

No

Course Description

Ancient biomolecules are often preserved in archaeological skeletal remains or artefacts and provide a means to answer a wide range of archaeological questions. DNA analysis can provide information on biological sex, kinship, and population affinities, in addition to health and disease via the study of pathogens and oral microbiomes. Stable isotope analysis on bone proteins (collagen) or other skeletal components such as apatite offer insights to past diets, movements, palaeoecology and even climate, and lipids extracted from potsherds can provide direct evidence of which foodstuffs were processed in different types of vessels.

 

The aim of this course is to provide students with a broad knowledge and understanding of key theory and principles underpinning the study of ancient biomolecules, and an introduction to laboratory methods for extracting and analysing ancient DNA, and stable isotopes found in bone collagen and other tissues. Lectures will cover basic and advanced, research-informed theory and real-world examples on how ancient biomolecules are becoming increasingly integrated in archaeological research. Student-led seminars will cover recent examples from the literature on state-of-the-art application and analysis of ancient biomolecules for the resolution of a wide range of archaeological questions. The course offers a broad introduction to the field of Biomolecular Archaeology and Bioarchaeological Science and will guide students in their further specialisation on courses in semester 2, and for choosing a dissertation topic in semester 3


Details for second half-session courses, including assessments, may be subject to change until 23 December 2022.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

  • 1 Computer Practical during University weeks 10 - 11, 13, 15
  • 1 Science Laboratory during University weeks 9, 12
  • 1 Lecture during University weeks 8 - 18
  • 1 Seminar during University weeks 8 - 18

More Information about Week Numbers


Details for second half-session courses, including assessments, may be subject to change until 23 December 2022.

Summative Assessments

Tutorial/Seminar Participation

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 10
Assessment Weeks 39 Feedback Weeks 41,42

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Feedback

An average grade based on the contribution (preparedness, critical insights, and synthesis of content within the broader research field) across the semester). Detailed feedback will be given via grade centre, and include an annotated copy of the students manuscript, marking rubric and additional written notes.

Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualUnderstandDemonstrate a systematic and critical understanding of the theory and principles underpinning the study of ancient biomolecules
ProceduralAnalyseCritically assess published research and demonstrate critical awareness of methodological limitations in bioarchaeological science approaches
ProceduralApplyApply a range of practical and analytical techniques for collecting biomolecular data
ProceduralEvaluateIntegrate and critically evaluate the study of ancient biomolecules for the resolution of archaeological questions

Oral Presentation: Individual

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 30
Assessment Weeks 18 Feedback Weeks 20,21

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Feedback

A 10-15 min presentation in the style of a conference presentation in which the student demonstrates in-depth, critical understanding of how one or several ancient biomolecules can resolve archaeological questions. Presentations will be assessed by two staff members, and while questions will be asked in class, feedback will be given separate via grade centre and include a marking rubric and additional written notes

Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualUnderstandDemonstrate a systematic and critical understanding of the theory and principles underpinning the study of ancient biomolecules
ProceduralAnalyseCritically assess published research and demonstrate critical awareness of methodological limitations in bioarchaeological science approaches
ProceduralApplyApply a range of practical and analytical techniques for collecting biomolecular data
ProceduralEvaluateIntegrate and critically evaluate the study of ancient biomolecules for the resolution of archaeological questions

Essay

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 50
Assessment Weeks 19 Feedback Weeks 21,22

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Feedback

An essay in which the student critically examines one key issue that is at the forefront of ancient DNA research, and provides a broad and detailed synthesis on that issue. Detailed feedback will be given via grade centre, and include an annotated copy of the students manuscript, marking rubric and additional written notes.

Word Count 3000
Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualUnderstandDemonstrate a systematic and critical understanding of the theory and principles underpinning the study of ancient biomolecules
ProceduralAnalyseCritically assess published research and demonstrate critical awareness of methodological limitations in bioarchaeological science approaches
ProceduralEvaluateIntegrate and critically evaluate the study of ancient biomolecules for the resolution of archaeological questions

Lab Report: Individual

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 10
Assessment Weeks 39 Feedback Weeks 41,42

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Feedback

A lab notebook summarising concisely the work carried out in laboratory practicals throughout the semester. Detailed feedback will be given via grade centre, and include an annotated copy of the students manuscript, marking rubric and additional written notes.

Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ProceduralAnalyseCritically assess published research and demonstrate critical awareness of methodological limitations in bioarchaeological science approaches
ProceduralApplyApply a range of practical and analytical techniques for collecting biomolecular data

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.

Resit Assessments

Essay

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 50
Assessment Weeks 48,49,50 Feedback Weeks 1,51,52

Look up Week Numbers

Feedback

An Essay in which the student critically examines one key issue that is at the forefront of ancient DNA research, and provides a broad and detailed synthesis on that issue. Detailed feedback will be given via grade centre, and include an annotated copy of the students manuscript, marking rubric and additional written notes.

Detailed feedback will be given via grade centre, and include an annotated copy of the students manuscript, marking rubric and additional written notes.

Word Count
Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
Sorry, we don't have this information available just now. Please check the course guide on MyAberdeen or with the Course Coordinator

Exam

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 50
Assessment Weeks 48,49,50 Feedback Weeks 1,51,52

Look up Week Numbers

Feedback

Exam in which students are presented with data figures of different types of ancient biomolecules they need to provide a critical interpretation of; short answer questions in which students need to provide concise answers summarising or synthesising key theory or principles.

Detailed feedback will be given via grade centre, and include an annotated copy of the students manuscript, marking rubric and additional written notes.

Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
Sorry, we don't have this information available just now. Please check the course guide on MyAberdeen or with the Course Coordinator

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualUnderstandDemonstrate a systematic and critical understanding of the theory and principles underpinning the study of ancient biomolecules
ProceduralApplyApply a range of practical and analytical techniques for collecting biomolecular data
ProceduralAnalyseCritically assess published research and demonstrate critical awareness of methodological limitations in bioarchaeological science approaches
ProceduralEvaluateIntegrate and critically evaluate the study of ancient biomolecules for the resolution of archaeological questions

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