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The University of Southampton

ARCH6414 Maritime Aspects of Culture

Module Overview

This module will introduce you to the key theoretical and technical concepts used in maritime archaeology, along with its evidence base. It has been designed to provide an accelerated learning curve for those who are new to the subject area, developing core knowledge in archaeological method, theory and materials. It begins by analysing the development of the subject and its related areas of study in order to facilitate a better understanding of current theoretical approaches, management priorities and research potential for maritime archaeology, within the context of archaeology as a whole. This provides the platform from which to consider the scope of the subject in terms of the site types and classes of evidence available; from the Palaeolithic to present day, from landscape- to site-based scales of analysis. It also serves to demonstrate what is gained from adopting a maritime perspective and how this allows fundamental re-assessment of the wider archaeological record. Case studies, practical sessions and fieldtrips will all be used to contextualise the knowledge gained throughout the course and broaden your archaeological experience. By the end of the module you will be familiar with the scope, potential and resource base of the discipline. You will have gained key skills in research, presentation and writing relevant to both academia and industry.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • A broad knowledge of recent and current maritime research trends
  • A broad understanding of the history of the development of maritime archaeology
  • A basic grounding in the theoretical approaches to maritime archaeology, maritime cultures and maritime landscapes
  • An appreciation of the archaeological potential of boats, ships and associated material culture.
  • An awareness of the potential of both submerged terrestrially deposited archaeology and the remains of seafaring activities.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Learn and apply new practical and theoretical skills
  • Produce academic/commercial standard reports and presentations
  • Plan, design and implement data research/collection and presentation
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate and critique past and current theoretical approaches
  • Apply current theoretical approaches in maritime archaeology
  • Understand the nature of the marine environment and the potential for activity on it.
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Assimilate and evaluate different theoretical perspectives
  • Assess a maritime landscape with respect to interpretation
  • Undertake independent research in the above areas
  • Apply theoretical models to specific areas of maritime archaeological research and specific problems


Topics will typically cover the following: • Introduction to Maritime Archaeology • Theory & Practice in Maritime Archaeology • Technology and Innovation • Maritime Landscapes • Island Archaeology • Navigation and Mental Maps • Maritime Archaeology, looking to the future

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • Weekly formal lectures to introduce key topics, themes and areas of study • Regular student led seminars • Appropriate field trips Learning methods include: • Directed learning through lectures/seminars • Guided self-study • Completion of three assignments • Use of online resources • Use of library resources • Oral presentation preparation and delivery on key topics

Completion of assessment task17
Follow-up work11
External visits6
Wider reading or practice44
Preparation for scheduled sessions44
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Gould, R.A. (2011). Archaeology and the Social History of Ships. 

Steffy, J. R. (1994). Wooden Shipbuilding and the Interpretation of Shipwrecks.. 

Gardiner, R. (2004). The Earliest Ships. The Evolution of Boats into Ships. Conway History of the Ship. 

Adams, J. (2003). Ships, Innovation and Social Change. Aspects of carvel Shipbuilding in Northern Europe 1450 – 1850 [Archaeology to provide PDF.]. 

Green, J. (2009). Maritime Archaeology, a Technical Handbook. 

Farr, H (2004). Seafaring as Social Action. Journal of Maritime Archaeology. ,1(1) .

Ingold, T (1993). The temporality of the landscape. World Archaeology. Conceptions of Time and Ancient Society. ,25:2 .

Westerdahl, C. (1992). The maritime cultural landscape. ,IJNA 21.1: 5-14 .

Cooney, G (2004). Introduction: seeing land from the sea. World Archaeology. ,35(3), 323-8 .

Muckelroy, K. (1978). Maritime Archaeology. 

Rainbird, P. (2007). The Archaeology of Islands. 

Garrow, D. and Sturt, F (2011). Grey Waters Bright with Neolithic Argonauts? Maritime connections and the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition with the ‘western seaways’ of Britain, c. 5000-3500 BC.. Antiquity. ,Antiquity 85 (327) p. 59-72 .

Hocker, F. M. & Ward, C. A. (2004). The Philosophy of Shipbuilding. Conceptual Approaches to the Study of Wooden Ships. 

Blue, L (2003). Maritime Ethnography: The Reality of Analogy. Boats, Ships and Shipyards. Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium of Boat and Ship Archaeology. ,Venice 2000: 334-338. Oxford: Oxbow Books. .

Lucas, G. (2012). Understanding the Archaeological Record. 

McGrail, S. (1998). Ancient Boats in North West Europe. 


Assessment Strategy

Informal feedback will provided throughout the module via lectures, practicals, seminars and supervisions. Detailed and constructive written feedback will be given for all assignments submitted.


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (1000 words) 25%
Presentation  (15 minutes) 25%
Research essay  (3000 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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