Institute of Archaeology

Medieval Archaeology: select topics and current problems


The aim of this course is to provide a focus for graduate study in some of the areas of interest in the field of north-west European medieval archaeology.

It will cover all the major current themes in medieval archaeology, using examples of investigations mostly from Britain and Ireland as well as Scandinavia and will also take students’ interests and requirements into account.

Aims of the course

This course seeks to introduce students to aspects of the archaeology of early medieval Britain during the period AD400-1200. The course is divided into two parts. Part One considers the development of rural settlement from the post-Roman period to the landscape of the Domesday Survey and after, and moves on to consider craft production, trade and the emergence of towns. Part Two aims to provide a detailed examination of traditions of burial and religion during the period and to examine processes such as the conversion to Christianity and its effect on the archaeological record. Each student will be expected to prepare and deliver seminar papers on relevant subjects of their choice.


On successful completion of this course a student should have an overview of the development of the English landscape over a long and complex period. Students should understand the nature of documentary evidence and its role in medieval archaeology and be able to critically assess aspects of historical narrative using archaeological evidence. Students should be able to apply a wide range of source materials and techniques to approach individual topics and themes and be familiar with the principal research resources for the period.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the course students should be able to demonstrate/have developed the ability to identify and examine specific problems using varied evidence. Preparation and delivery of individual student presentations should ensure the application of acquired knowledge and the development of oral presentation skills, whilst participation in both staff and student led seminars will enhance critical observation and reflection.

Teaching Methods

One weekly two-hour session will form the main method of teaching. Students are provided with a reading list for each seminar. Each seminar will be opened with a short presentation by the teacher to be followed by a detailed consideration of the topic in hand by students. Seminars have weekly recommended readings, which students will be expected to have done, to be able fully to follow and actively to contribute to discussion. In addition the will be a visit to the early medieval gallery at the British Museumto give students greater familiarity with the material covered in the course. Students will be required to give one individual presentation during the course, either at the end of Term I or at the End of Term II. Student seminar topics, which may be based on a theme chosen for one of the written assignments of the course. 

Course information

  • Code: ARCLG004
  • Credits: 30
  • Coordinator: Andrew Reynolds
  • Prerequisite: This course does not have a prerequisite, however, if students have no previous background in medieval archaeology, it would be advisable for them also to attend (but not be assessed for) the undergraduate course ARCL2018: Early Medieval Archaeology of Britain to ensure that they have the background to get the most out of the Masters level seminars in this course. Please note that the aforementioned course runs biennially.
  • Handbook: open»

For registered students


  • Not running in 2017-18

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