Postgraduate taught 

Material Culture & Artefact Studies MSc/PgDip

Material Culture in Context ARCH5025

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course provides an overview of current theoretical and methodological approaches in material culture studies. It explores the interdisciplinary nature of things through seminars using archaeological and contemporary case studies and museum visits. Key themes include context and the meaning and presentation of objects, approaches to collection and artefact assemblages, and craft - how making transforms materials.


1x2hr seminar per week over 10 weeks and museum visits as scheduled on MyCampus 

Excluded Courses





2000-word essay (40%)

2000-word essay (40%)

1000-short critique paper (20%)

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ introduce students to current theoretical and methodological perspectives in material culture studies using a series of archaeological and contemporary material culture case studies

■ introduce students to the concepts, theories and intellectual debates in modern material culture studies

■ familiarise students with the historical context and development of archaeological approaches to artefacts

■ encourage the use and application of interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the role of artefacts and collections

■ examine the cultural importance of objects and their display for contemporary society

■ develop skills in critical thinking and the communication, both written and oral, of theoretical concepts

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ situate developments in approaches within archaeological thought and their context in broader academic and intellectual trends with respect to material culture

■ discuss the interplay of archaeological approaches to artefacts and current interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives on material culture

■ research antiquarian and museum collections and address curatorial issues of display and public dissemination

■ apply the principles of modern material culture studies in their contemporary context

■ sustain and defend arguments in written work and oral presentation

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.