Institute of Archaeology


Themes, Thought and Theory in World Archaeology: Current Topics

This course is a continuation of 'Foundations'. Through weekly seminars we discuss the theoretical archaeological literature within many of the currently popular research domains developed mainly from processual and post-processual archaeological frameworks.  Our objective will be to evaluate the assumptions and goals that implicitly and explicitly define these research domains.  We will also consider how research domains are related to overarching archaeological frameworks and to each other.

Aims of the course

The course provides an intensive graduate-level induction to archaeological theory, research issues and reasoning within a seminar framework based on set readings. It aims to review the recent history of archaeological ideas and to examine key general themes in current archaeology from a theoretical and comparative perspective.


On successful completion of this course a student should:

  • Have an understanding of current theoretical debates across a broad range of archaeology.
  • Be aware of the reasons for the debates as a basis for forming their own theoretical position.
  • Be able to use the knowledge to develop an innovative PhD proposal or carry out soundly based work in their particular field of archaeology

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course students should be able to demonstrate:

  • Critical analysis of ideas
  • Construction of a theory-based argument
  • Application of acquired knowledge
  • Verbal discussion skills

Teaching Methods

The course is taught through seminars led by Stephen Shennan. Seminars have weekly required readings, which students will be expected to have done, to be able to follow and actively contribute to discussion.

Course information

For registered students


  • Runs every year