Artefacts and Materials (ARC1040)

StaffDr Gillian Juleff - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module will develop skills in recognising artefacts and materials and an understanding of how archaeologists deal with them. Modified materials form artefacts and structures and are a basic category of archaeological evidence. The module will introduce some of the key material categories encountered by archaeologists through practical assignments using a variety of presentation formats.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Recognise key features relating to the properties and processes of manufacture and use for different materials
  • 2. Know appropriate methods for recording and analysing archaeological finds
  • 3. Identify artefact types and use the concept of types effectively
  • 4. Draw observations and interpretations from real objects and groups or assemblages of artefacts

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Appreciate the significance of physical materials and traditional technologies in interpreting the past
  • 6. Assimilate numerical and graphical data

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Work using a combination of physical material and documentary resources available in a variety of formats/media
  • 8. Contribute as an individual within group work
  • 9. Produce clear and concise work in a variety of written and presentational formats

Syllabus plan

This module is arranged as a series of themed elements linked to artefact and material categories. Each element will include introductory presentations  supported by physical and digitised learning resources practical exercises and independent individual and group study. Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Introduction to artefacts
  • Stone artefacts
  • Pottery and ceramics
  • Metals and technological waste
  • Organic and composite materials and artefacts
  • Perishable materials

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 teaching33Lecture content, discussion events and guided exercises (equivalent to 11 x 2 hour sessions)
Guided independent study117Private study using online learning resources and individual artefact packs

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individual materials auditProforma survey report2-4, 7, 9Written feedback
Artefact description250 words based on individual pack material1-7, 9

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
Group written assignment: an illustrated artefact report501500 words per groupAllWritten feedback
Artefact-based quiz50Short questions on a collection of up to 15 objects (either physical or digital format)AllWritten feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Group written assignment: an illustrated artefact report Written assignment: an individual illustrated artefact report (750 words, plus references)1-7, 9Referral/Deferral period
Artefact-based quizWritten report on a small assemblage of objects (digital and/or physical format, 1000 words plus references)1-7, 9Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Re-assessment for in-class based test will be coursework.

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Hurcombe, L.M., 2007: Archaeological Artefacts as Material Culture. London: Routledge.

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Artefacts, Materials, flaked stones, ceramics, organics, archaeometallurgy