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Last modified: 24 May 2018 18:17

Course Overview

This course provides a romping introduction to the deep human past, from our earliest hominin origins in Africa to the emergence of the first Early Medieval Kingdoms in Northern Europe. Along the way we will discover the key stages in the evolution of our species and what it means to be 'human', from our use of symbols to express thoughts, ritualstic behaviours to our domestication of plants and animals and militarized empires. The archaeological evidence for these fundamental transitions in human societies provides us with powerful insights into some of the world's most fascinating civilizations.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 1
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Online Sustained Study No
  • Dr Karen Milek

Qualification Prerequisites

  • Either Programme Level 1 or Programme Level 2

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

  • Either Distance Learning (Studied) or Archaeology Iss (Studied)
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • AY1503 Caves to Kingdoms: an Introduction to Prehistoric Archaeology (Studied)
  • KL150I Caves to Kingdoms: an Introduction to Prehistoric Archaeology (Studied)

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

This course will introduce you to the key concepts of what it is to be human, what constitutes 'complexity' in past human societies, and how the trajectories that lead to the development of complex societies differed around the world. By the end of the course, you  will be able to: explain the key stages and mechanisms in the evolution of Homo sapiens; outline the key dates, geographical locations and environmental contexts of different hominin species; discuss early prehistoric subsistence strategies and tool technologies, and how these developed over time; explain the earliest evidence for art, religion, abstract reasoning, and human cognition; name and explain the most important transitions in human (pre)history, including global dispersals, the origins of agriculture and writing, and the emergence of urban life, social elites, and state polities, drawing on examples from around the world; outline the most important changes that were taking place in human societies in each of the key stages in Northern European and British prehistory, from the Palaeolithic Period, through the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age, to the emergence of the first Early Medieval Kingdoms.

Further Information & Notes

This course includes a one-day field trip, which will involve some off-road walking over gentle terrain. Students may be asked to make a nominal contribution towards the cost of the field trip. Adjustments will be made for distance learning students and those with mobility issues, who are encouraged to contact the course coordinator at the beginning of the course. For distance learning students, lectures are made accessable online.

This course may not be taken with AY1503

Contact Teaching Time

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

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: Continuous assessment (50%) and 1 two-hour written examination (50%). Students who achieve 15 or over in the continuous assessment may be exempt from the final examination.

Resit: 1 two-hour written examination (50%) plus original continuous assessment carried over (50%).

Formative Assessment

Online quizzes provided by the textbook publisher and tied to the weekly readings.


Students receive instant feedback from the online quizzes and an opportunity to keep trying them. Feedback on the summative assessment will be on a feedback sheet that has a marking rubric table and space for comments, as well as comments written directly on the assessments themselves.

Course Learning Outcomes


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