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Last modified: 31 May 2022 13:23

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.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 2
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Robert Dinnis

Qualification Prerequisites

  • Programme Level 2

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

  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • Programme Level 2

What other courses must be taken with this course?


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 burial practices, sacred places and other forms of evidence.
- 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.

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 30 August 2024 for 1st half-session courses and 20 December 2024 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt:

Essay (60%)

Poster (40%)


Essay (60%)

Poster (40%)

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
FactualRememberILO’s for this course are available in the course guide.

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