ARCH41320 Hunter-Gatherers 1: Key Themes

Academic Year 2022/2023

This module provides an advanced introduction to key themes in the archaeology of hunter-gatherers and the use of the eHRAF comparative databases on hunter-gatherers. By key themes is meant characteristics of the ways that hunter-gatherers lived and dominant archaeological approaches to those lifestyles. The emphasis throughout is on the remarkable diversity of hunter-gatherer communities with case studies drawn from across the globe and the Palaeolithic to the present. The module is taught by a combination of short lectures (including invited speakers) and extended discussion groups, providing students with the opportunity to develop their own understandings of key issues and debates.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module, students will
- Understand how to use the eHRAF resource to research hunter-gatherers
- Have an advanced level understanding of key themes in the archaeology of hunter-gatherers
- Develop a critical perspective on key approaches and concepts in the discipline, notably the relationship between archaeological and anthropological perspectives on hunter-gatherers
- Produce a research project on an aspect of hunter-gatherer archaeology and anthropology
- Contribute meaningfully to group tasks including seminar discussion

Indicative Module Content:

What is hunter-gatherer archaeology
Hunter-gatherers: a history of concept and definitions
Subsistence and adaptation
From egalitarianism to hierarchy
Sharing and immediacy
World views & Ontology
Demography & Networks
Historical dynamics

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Seminar (or Webinar)




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
- students encouraged to explore topics through reading and discussion.
- students will help generate class resource of examples of HG diversity drawn from HRAF.
- long essay to demonstrate depth of engagement with topic. Formative feedback available on drafts. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: Literature review and research question for key topic to be explored in HRAF proposal/project. c 1500 words. Low stakes to allow for early feedback. Week 6 n/a Graded No


Group Project: Students will collaborate in producing a resource on the use of eHRAF data. Week 8 n/a Graded No


Essay: 4000 word project using eHRAF database to explore a topic in HG archaeology/anthropology Week 12 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, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

- seminar presentation; verbal and written feedback from MC, informal peer review from class - essay: formative feedback available on draft, and discussion/review in developing topic. Verbal & written feedback on final essay - group project: verbal and written feedback: informal formative feedback available in development of resource.