Institute of Archaeology


Reading critically

Advice and resources to help you develop effective approaches to reading.

Using reading lists effectively

At the IoA, module reading lists are made available in the Module Handbooks and as an online reading list which give you quick and easy access to course resources, including e-books and e-journals. Lists indicate which readings are essential to understanding the course themes and should be read each week before class, those which are recommended for students interested in exploring the topic in more detail, and and those which are supplementary and may be a useful starting point for writing assessments. Prioritise the essential and recommended readings so you are able to participate in class or online discussions. 

Further resources:

Reading and making notes

You will not be able to read everything, so focus strategically on what you really need to read to be able to participate in class and to complete your assessments. Have in mind a set of questions you want answers to.  Write these down as a short list and keep it with you when reading and writing your notes. 

SQ3R is a well-known method for reading and making notes.  SQ3R stands for ‘Survey’, ‘Question’ and three Rs: ‘Read’, ‘Recall’ and ‘Review’.  It involves surveying a text and asking questions before you start reading. The reading process focuses on selected parts of the text which you read and recall keeping in mind your initial questions. Finally you review your notes.

Further resources:

Reading Critically

 As you progress through you degree, deeper and more critical reading will be required for class discussion and assessments.  In an academic context, reading critically means asking questions of the text, its arguments, underlying assumptions, methodologies and the historiographic background in which it was written. The IoE has useful critical reading questions to interrogate sources.