ARCH10160 The Human Past

Academic Year 2024/2025

This module will provide an introduction to the archaeology of the prehistoric and historic world through examining key points in the development of ancient human socities. e.g. the emergence of Homo Sapiens, and its spread across all parts of the world, the development of agriculture and the transition from nomadic to settled societies, the invention of metalworking and other technologies, the emergence of early states and empires. Case studies will be drawn from across the globe: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, China, Japan, India, and Europe. These examples will introduce a broad range of archaeaological materials and artfacts (including some of the most famous), and the course will outline some of the key ways in which they contributed to our understanding of early human civilisations.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module, you should be able to:
1) recognise the range of evidence emplyed by archaeologists to reconstruct aspects of the prehistoric and historic past.
2) explain how archaeologists have used this evidence to understand specific aspects of the prehistoric and historic world.
3) outline the significance of key points in the development of human societies.
4) construct an archaeological essay, using archaeological evidence, and displaying a critical use of appropriate bibliography

Indicative Module Content:

Key topics will include the material evidence for:
Human evolution
The development of human prehistoric culture and society
The Neolithic revolution and the development of farming
Early metallurgy and the emergence of the Bronze Age
Case studies of Bronze Age civilisations across the world (these may include: Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Mediterranean, India, China)
The emergence of Greek and Roman civilisation
Pre-Mediaeval Europe
Mediaeval Europe

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The primary vehicles for teaching are lectures and tutorial, which are measured through the assessments.

There will normally be 22 lectures. In lectures, the primary content of the course will be presented. Learning materials in the form of notes and bibliographies will be provided.
During the tutorials, the tutorials will introduce additional materials, for group based learning in the form of small tasks, discussions and debates about key themes presented in the lectures. There will also be opportunity for preparation for the assessments.
The assessments offer opportunity for critical thinking and writing. They will test your engagement with the overall material. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
ARCH10020 - Out of the Distant Past

Additional Information:
Archaeology PhD students (DRHSC001 Z117, DRHSC001 Z118) may audit only

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment(Including Essay): 750 word review, with a set question n/a Graded No


Quizzes/Short Exercises: Fortnightly online MCQ test (10 questions per test) n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Assignment(Including Essay): 1500 word essay (1 of 4 titles set) n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

UCD School of Archaeology uses standard feedback sheets for all modules. Your feedback is provided on this form - the form also contains feed forward details - this will help you think about how you could improve your approach in future assignments.

Name Role
Professor Joanna Bruck Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Neil Carlin Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Helen Lewis Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Ms Angela McAteer Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Meriel McClatchie Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Barry Molloy Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Brendan O'Neill Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Anita Radini Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Rob Sands Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Jessica Smyth Lecturer / Co-Lecturer