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World archaeology

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This module explores the human past across all inhabited areas of the globe, from the last Ice Age to historic times. It covers most of the past 12,000 years, ending with the fall of the Roman Empire in Europe, but continuing until the eighteenth century in the Pacific and North America. Its main focus is the development of human culture and societies – from agriculture to technology, and from the earliest civilisations to the spread of populations worldwide. The module fosters a broad knowledge and understanding through a comparative approach to study, introducing methodology and theoretical issues when necessary.

Modules at Level 2 assume that you are suitably prepared for study at this level. If you want to take a single module to satisfy your career development needs or pursue particular interests, you don’t need to start at Level 1 but you do need to have adequately prepared yourself for OU study in some other way. Check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service to make sure that you are sufficiently prepared.

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Start End Fee Register
01 Nov 2014 Apr 2015
£440.00
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Registration opens on 30/04/14

November 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
01 Nov 2014 Apr 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

November 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
01 Nov 2014 Apr 2015
£985.00
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Registration opens on 30/04/14

November 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
01 Nov 2014 Apr 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

November 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
01 Nov 2014 Apr 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

November 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
01 Nov 2014 Apr 2015
£865.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

November 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
01 Nov 2014 Apr 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

November 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
01 Nov 2014 Apr 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

November 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
01 Nov 2014 Apr 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

November 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
01 Nov 2014 Apr 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

See below for information about part time tuition fee loans available for study towards a qualification.

November 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

This module will be of particular interest if you have studied or are thinking about studying history; history of science, technology and medicine; classical studies; or art history. The principal themes are the beginnings of agriculture; the development of cities, states and empires; and the spread of human populations around the globe. The major world civilisations, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Classical, Chinese, Aztec etc. are all included, along with other societies that did not develop to the same level of complexity.

The module also introduces you to the archaeological study of human societies. Its focus is not so much upon teaching basic study skills (appropriate to first level) but upon developing your ability to assimilate and synthesise information. There’s no examination at the end of the module; instead you’ll take some first steps in independent study as you complete an extended essay as an end-of-module assessment (EMA). Blocks 1-3 take a chronological and geographical approach to the development of human culture and society. Block 4 consists of a range of thematic studies that will extend your knowledge and understanding of how archaeology can add to our knowledge of the past.

Although this is a 30-credit module it lasts only 18 weeks. Therefore you will be studying at a rate equivalent to a 60-credit module, but for a shorter period.

This module’s core text is The Human Past: World Prehistory and the Development of Human Societies edited by C. Scarre, which is sent as part of your study materials. Your work with the text will be supported by a study guide, which will contain in-text exercises and references to work on an audio CD and exercises based on using the internet. The module makes extensive use of the internet, introducing you to archaeology online and developing the skills you need to effectively use the internet for study.

You will learn

This module will provide you with a knowledge and critical understanding of the development of human cultures worldwide and some of the principles, concepts and techniques used in the study of the archaeology of the world.

It will provide you with the opportunity to apply knowledge and understanding accurately to a range of issues, questions and problems relating to the contemporary understanding of the global human past, through the critical evaluation and interpretation of archaeological evidence in a variety of case studies.

Through your assignments, you’ll be able to compare and use different approaches to issues in world archaeology. You’ll have the opportunity to deploy your skills to communicate information, arguments and ideas effectively, using the appropriate style and language. In the EMA, you’ll find, critically evaluate and use information accurately to write an extended essay using ICT tools and skills, as appropriate.

Entry

This is a Level 2 module and builds on the Level 1 modules The arts past and present (AA100), Voices and texts (A150) and Making sense of things: an introduction to material culture (A151). These Level 1 modules develop skills such as logical thinking, clear expression, essay writing and the ability to select and interpret relevant materials. They also offer an introduction to a range of subjects in the arts and humanities.

If you have not studied at university level before, you are strongly advised to study at Level 1 before progressing to Level 2 study.

Your regional or national centre can advise you on where you can see reference copies of Level 1 study materials. Some are also available from Open University Worldwide Ltd. We particularly recommend looking at these materials if you have not successfully completed Level 1 study or studied at an equivalent level elsewhere.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service

Preparatory work

No preparatory work is necessary for this module. If you have not taken a Level 1 module in the arts, you will find it useful to have The Arts Good Study Guide (E. Chambers and A. Northedge, The Open University), which will help you to develop your study skills.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and musical notation and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

Students with a visual impairment will find the visual material (plans, diagrams, illustrations) challenging since they are often intended to communicate complex visual as well as factual information.  Where possible, the Module Team will provide written descriptions and explanations of a limited number of images. The fulfilment of the learning outcomes of the module will not be dependent upon powers of visual discernment in this module and assessment will not incorporate visual materials.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:

  • help to determine your study requirements and how to request the support that you need  
  • Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
  • using a computer for OU study
  • equipment and other support services that we offer
  • examination arrangements
  • how to contact us for advice and support both before you register and while you are studying.

Study materials

What's included

Printed study materials, an audio CD and a website. You’ll also receive a copy of the module text:

C. Scarre (ed.), The Human Past: World Prehistory and the Development of Human Societies, Thames and Hudson (2005).

You will need

The ability to play CDs.

This module makes extensive use of the internet. All the tutorials are online, an integral part of the module is a specially designed website, and some of your assignments will require you to use the internet. The module helps you to learn about using the internet to study archaeology and does not expect you to have highly developed online skills before you start. If you choose to take the module and you do not have regular access to the internet, you will find that your experience of the module is diminished.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2007 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.6 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance both in online conferences and by telephone or email. Teaching will also be via an online conference, for which full guidance will be provided.

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

The end-of-module assessment (EMA) can be submitted on paper or online using the eTMA system.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in November 2014 when it will be available for the last time.

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

Student Reviews

“Very interesting module, I learnt a lot of things I did not know before. It was difficult at times, especially ...”
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“This was one of my favourite courses although for 30 credits at Level 2, I found it to be more ...”
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Distance learning

The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information read Distance learning explained.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.
Course facts
About this course:
Course code A251
Credits 30
OU Level 2
SCQF level 8
FHEQ level 5
Course work includes:
3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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