Skip to Content


Last modified: 25 May 2018 11:16

Course Overview

This course is a detailed introduction to the ecological, economic and spiritual dimensions to the archaeology of the northern world.  Lectures will draw on a series of case-studies to examine the human adaptations to northern landscapes, ritual and spirituality, and finally the impact of colonisation and contact upon northern cultures.  Practicals in the course will include hands-on introduction to traditional skills such as flint knapping, tool manufacture and use of an atlatl.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 2
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Online Sustained Study No
  • Dr Rick Knecht

Qualification Prerequisites

  • Either Programme Level 1 or Programme Level 2

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

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

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • KL255X The Archaeology of the North: Lifeways & Cultural Change (Studied)

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

This course aims to provide an in-depth critical examination of the economic and spiritual dimensions to long-term human history in the northern regions of the globe. By the end of this course, students should be able to:
- Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the characteristic features of northern environments and articulate the variety of ways in which human populations have creatively responded to the opportunities and constraints of northern ecosystems through novel technology, mobility and new subsistence and exchange strategies
- Demonstrate a critical understanding of how colonisations and culture contacts were ongoing in both the distant and recent past and the key processes that were instrumental to the creation of diversity among northern populations
- Critically evaluate the archaeological evidence for a range of rituals and beliefs that reflect the distinctive northern world-view
- Demonstrate improved verbal and written skills

This course provides students with a detailed introduction to the ecological, economic and spiritual dimensions to the Archaeology of the North (defined here as Scotland, Northern Europe, Siberia, the North Pacific, North America and the North Atlantic). We will examine the diverse ways in which communities have made the northern world their home. The course draws on a series of case-studies to examine four interlocking themes:
- Human ecology of northern landscapes. Examines the opportunities and constraints that characterise high-latitude environments.
- Living in the North. Investigates some of the creative ways in which northern people have adapted to and transformed these ecological settings, including how societies have responded to frequent periods of severe climate change, and the role of technology in mobility and adaptation.
- The Northern Mind. Critically explores the abundant archaeological evidence for ritual, worship and spirituality, focusing on rock art, burial practices, sacred places and other forms of evidence. Ethnographic parallels are widely employed in the interpretation of these datasets.
- Exchange, Colonisation and Contact. Examines the range and roles of inter-cultural contact and the ways these influenced cultural change in the north and the correlates of these changes that are present in the archaeological record.

Further Information & Notes

This is a distance learning course. Students learn from home using a combination of pre-recorded podcast-style lectures and practical workshops/data analysis exercises.

As this course is offered via both distance learning and on-campus study, distance-learning students can choose to attend practical workshops (2-3 per semester) or will be assigned alternative computer-based data analysis practical exercises

Contact Teaching Time

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

Teaching Breakdown


More Information about Week Numbers

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: 1 two-hour written examination (50%); continuous assessment in the form of a 2500-word essay (50%) Resit: 1 two-hour written examination (100%)

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.



Course Learning Outcomes


Compatibility Mode

We have detected that you are have compatibility mode enabled or are using an old version of Internet Explorer. You either need to switch off compatibility mode for this site or upgrade your browser.