The Social Archaeology stream is distinctive in exploring interpretive and theoretical points of view in archaeology from a comparative stance, transcending specific regions. Modules in this stream focus on past and current conceptual and political matters in archaeology, underlining debates about the relevance of the archaeological record in the world today.
The stream draws on School of Archaeology’s academic and senior research staff, including museum curators and other specialists to discuss the theories and practices of archaeology, and identify debates in regional traditions of thinking and interconnections to other disciplines. Topics addressed in the modules range from identity matters to cognition, critical readings of material culture, style, semiotics, as well as exploring gender and memory.
Overall, the stream emphasizes ideas and interpretation, investigating cases from prehistory up to contemporary times. You will have the opportunity the engage with both established and new bodies of archaeological thought, including New Archaeology, post-processualism, and New Materialism/posthumanism. Equally, the stream introduces archaeology’s changing position in contemporary society and its links to museum collections, heritage discussions, and decolonizing practices. You will be offered to research and debate how relevant these theories are to archaeological subject matters and problems, and to consider how you might want to shape future archaeological practice and thinking.
Your taught modules and independent research will allow you to deepen your knowledge and understanding of the ever-changing world of archaeological theory, and the historical and contemporary contexts in which theoretical trends develop.
The small-group teaching and learning provide you with the opportunity to explore key sources of evidence and approaches from around the world in order to investigate a wide range of subjects, such as:
- Art and aesthetics
- Coloniality and decoloniality
- Colonialism and post-colonialism
- Ethical archaeology
- Feminist and gendered perspectives
- History of archaeological thought
- Indigenous and stakeholder engagement
- Modernity and post-modernism
- Material culture
- Museum collections
- The ‘ontological’ turn
Students benefit from the world-renowned collections of the Bodleian Libraries, Pitt Rivers & Ashmolean Museum, and other resources.
All MSc in Archaeology students take the mandatory Archaeological Principles: Data & Theory. You will also take two core modules offered within Social Archaeology: One List A taught in the first term, and the other from List B taught in the second term. The fourth module is your option module (also from List B), also taught in the second term; this is chosen from all available List B modules in any stream, or a module from the MSt in Classical Archaeology. In some circumstances a subject taught in the MSc in Archaeological Science may be taken as your option module, however this is taught over two terms.
Please note that the modules and streams listed on this website are indicative of the typical offerings and are subject to review each year. Whilst every effort is made to offer the full variety of modules/streams this is not possible to do every year. This is due to the fact that some modules/streams are dependent on student numbers to ensure an appropriate quality of education; timetable clashes; staff availability; etc. We aim to keep the website as up-to-date as possible but we recommend that you seek specific advice from email@example.com on module/stream availability.