Teaching & Learning Portal


Bill Sillar

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Dr Bill Sillar, Lecturer in Archaeology

Bill is one of UCL’s great pedagogical enthusiasts. Teaching, learning and assessment are vital to him, but so too is the full development of the student, and he is extremely keen to ensure that students both become highly skilled in their academic disciplines and develop powerful employability and transferable skills.  

In 2001, Bill volunteered to take over the organisation of the IoA’s four-day Experimental Archaeology course which first-year students undertake in the first week of their degree.

The course involves them taking part in a number of activities in small groups. These activities include: flint-knapping, pottery-making, metal-smelting, spinning and weaving, building construction, crop-processing and deer butchery. The activities are designed to be informative about ancient technologies and to provoke discussion concerning the nature of archaeological evidence.

Run on a very tight budget, the course provides basic food for over 100 people who camp in their own tents for four days: a unique way to start an undergraduate degree! It introduces students to issues and concepts that lie at the heart of the discipline in a fun but challenging way – and it builds the community and sociability that characterises the IoA.  

Bill is also one of our leaders in developing object-based teaching and learning, working with other key leaders in the area, notably Helen Chatterjee and colleagues from the Petrie Museum and the IoA. 

Bill’s interest in employability has led him to co-ordinate student placements in relevant museums or archaeological units. Traditionally - and still today - professionals from external organisations come to UCL to give lectures to our students and take part in seminars etc. It is important that this continues, but Bill reverses this and takes the students out to talk to professionals in their own workplaces. Students can spend between 30 and 60 days at the host institution, gaining practical experience of the running of the organisation and the role of artefact studies within a commercial or museum environment.

He is developing a new MSc on Technology in Society, using examples from the Archaeology and Ethnography of the Andes, and is working with Helen Chatterjee to design a second-year core course for the new UCL BASc on object-based learning and narratives.  

Highly active in outreach work with schools, Bill works extensively in the UK, London and beyond. As a truly global citizen, he regularly works with schools in Peru as well as in the UK.