Hunter Gatherers: Archaeology and Ethnography (ARC3107)

StaffBruce Bradley - Lecturer
Professor Alan Outram - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.50
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module aims to develop a critical understanding of the wide variety of ways of life that hunter-gatherer peoples have today and had in both the distant and more recent past. It will provide students with the skills to apply information about recent or contemporary hunter-gatherer groups to inform our interpretations of the archaeological record. There will be a particular focus on subsistence economics, but social and artistic issues will also be covered. Students will be introduced to archaeological, environmental, experimental and ethnographic evidence that can be applied to understanding hunter-gatherer peoples.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. know the theoretical and methodological frameworks of hunter-gatherer studies and understand how these relate to the interpretation of prehistoric archaeology
  • 2. understand a variety of different hunter-gatherer lifeways and how they relate to their environment.
  • 3. analyse the various sources of evidence employed in hunter-gatherer studies and appreciate the mechanisms for their interpretation

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. critically reflect upon the integration of ethnographic, archaeological, environmental and experimental data in interpreting the past.
  • 5. integrate the use of ethnographic, archaeological, environmental and experimental data in interpreting the past.
  • 6. Critically apply thematic knowledge and analyse, synthesise and evaluate terms, concepts and examples

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. research a topic guided by a reading list and synthesize data from disparate sources; interpret a variety of information forms
  • 8. respond to comments in discussion and ask pertinent questions
  • 9. contribute to presentations using appropriate visual aids

Syllabus plan


Archaeological Evidence


Ethnographic and Experimental Evidence

Optimal Foraging Theory

Mobility and the Seasonal Round

Risk Reduction Strategies

Sex; Kinship; Family Roles


Relations with farmers

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching189 x 2 hour lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching22 x 1 hour seminars
Scheduled learning and teaching11 x tutorial
Scheduled learning and teaching2revision session
Guided independent study127Independent study including reading, research and preparation for lectures, seminars and assignments.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentations in seminars8-9verbal

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay502000 words1-7Verbal and Written feedback
Exam501.5 hours1-6Verbal and Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-7Refer/Defer period
ExamExam1-6Refer/Defer period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Bettinger, R.L. (1991). Hunter-Gatherers: Archaeological and Evolutionary Theory.New York: Plenum

Binford, L.R. (1978). Nunamuit Ethnoarchaeology.New York: Academic Press.

Binford, L.R. (2001). Constructing Frames of Reference.Los Angeles: Univ ofCalifornia

Higgs, E.S. Ed. (1975). Palaeoeconomy.Cambridge: CUP

Jochim, M.A. (1998). A Hunter-Gatherer Landscape.New York: Plenum

Kelly, R.L. (1995). The Foraging Spectrum.Washington: Smithsonian Press

Rowley-Conwy, P.A. (1999). Economic Prehistory inSouthern Scandinaviain: (J. Coles, R. Bewley and P. Mellars Eds) World Prehistory: Studies in the Memory of Grahame Clark.Oxford:OxfordUniversityPress. 125 – 159.

Zvelebil, M. Ed. (1986). Hunters in Transition.Cambridge: CUP

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?


Origin date

January 2009

Last revision date


Key words search

Hunter Gatherer, Subsistence, Archaeology, Ethnography