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ARCH2004 Introduction to European Prehistory

Module Overview

The 10,000 years from the end of the last glacial to the emergence of Roman as a major European power were marked by dramatic changes in subsistence, social organisation, material worlds and cosmology. This module provides an introduction to the major themes that structure European later prehistory: from hunter- gatherer worlds to the spread of agriculture; the emergence of great ceremonial monuments and, in places, equally monumental settlements; the effect of the adoption of metallurgy, and the creation of extensive networks of contact and exchange; and the impact that Rome was to have on Iron Age societies in its broader hinterland. Through lectures and an individual project, a range of evidence will be explored. You will be introduced to current interpretive debates and the ways that archaeologists reconstruct prehistoric lifeways and world views.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• introduce students to key concepts and themes in the Prehistory of Europe • Prepare you for in-depth analysis of periods in year 3

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Major issues and debates in the study of European Prehistory.
  • The problems and potentials of evidence available to European Prehistory
  • The breadth of the field
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Compare major thematically described developments in different places and periods in European Prehistory
  • Critically evaluate contrasting approaches to key themes in Prehistoric Europe
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Employ analytical skills appropriate to the study of Prehistory
  • Produce an extended piece of written work demonstrating written communication skills
  • Gather information, analyse and evaluate it critically


This module introduces key themes in the Prehistory of Europe such as `technology', `subsistence', ‘exchange' and `the body'. Through these themes, social and cultural changes are explored. Comparisons are drawn between periods and regions.

Special Features

Lectures will introduce you to important themes and debates in European Prehistory and encourage appreciation of the nature of the archaeological data. Seminars will encourage comparison of thematically described development sin different places and periods of European Prehistory. Independent study will encourage you to gather information, engage critically with differing approaches to European Prehistory, and to express themselves through the production of an extended essay.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures • Seminar classes Learning activities include • Lectures • Seminar classes • Independent study

Independent Study126
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Whittle, A (2003). The Archaeology of People. 

Collis, J. (1997). The European Iron Age. 

Champion, T., Gamble, C., Shennan, S. and Whittle, A. (1984). Prehistoric Europe. 

Whittle, A (1996). Europe in the Neolithic. 

Harding, A. (2000). European Societies in the Bronze Age. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Project  (3500 words) 80%
Project design  (500 words) 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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