• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Archaeology
  • Areas of interest Archaeology
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Anthony Barham
    • Dr Timothy Denham
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2014
    Second Semester 2014
    See Future Offerings

Foundation concepts in Archaeology have ancestry in developments of Natural Science since the 17th century. This course plots out the historical development of core concepts eg evolution; stratigraphy; taxonomic classification and its link to the species concept; ecology and habitat; the recognition of a direction and change in earth systems over time; and interaction between the human species and the environment. The course shows how such concepts are baselines in much contemporary archaeological thought and method, both of "scientific" and "non-scientific" or even "anti-scientific" type. A "middle road" is plotted, suitable for riding on a bicycle made for two, embracing both historicist and scientific traditions.    

The course provides guidelines as to the choices available for framing our understanding of the past. How can we understand how we have developed and interacted with our planet as a species, and how should we proceed to structure our research?  The notion of the archaeologist as "detective' is compared with the archaeologist as "narrator" and archaeologists as contemporary (and competing) "lore-makers" for the human past. The course ends with some questions, and hopefully not too many firm answers:

If you don`t trust science why would you ever get on a plane, or drive your car? What did our ancestors have for breakfast?  What do you think you see as stars in the night sky, and what would you have thought 10,000 or even 1,000 years ago?  Why does the public have such a hunger for archaeological news stories? What role has "science" in understanding the past and why (oh why) is "science" often regarded as a scary word?



Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Understanding the ancestry and lineages in contemporary archaeological method is a core outcome. Students will start to form skills in differentiating scientific and evidential approaches as compared with less evidential but equally  compelling narrative aproaches. Core outcomes are the ability to query interpretations, both in published literature and in data, not least allegedly scientific data, and begin to design methods and design ways to test ideas about the past.

Indicative Assessment

Development of capacity to frame research questions and critically assess interpretations will be assessed through selection of two seminar topics (case studies) where arguments are prepared for and against interpretations offered.

TWO topics to be submitted as written notes for debates combined with annotated bibliographies (max 2500 words each) (2 x 30%); a presentation as led summary of historical antecedents to core concepts under discussion (as Powerpoint) (30%); on-line participation and/or session attendance record (10%).

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


10 hours of lectures, also available on-line. 20 hours (10 x 2 hour) taped discussion sessions based on historically cross-comparative topics, each with pre-reading preparation and requiring the searching of on-line resources (40 hours). Discussion sessions will be recorded or on-line. Students are expected to supplement the reading for discussion sessions with the reading of prescribed texts (50 hours). 

Requisite and Incompatibility

Prog 6035 or 6036

Prescribed Texts

Dawkins, R. 2009 The Greatest Show on Earth: the evidence for evolution. Bantam Press: London.

Gamble, C. 2008 Archaeology:The Basics. 2nd edition. Routledge: London.

Turney, C. 2006 Bones, Rocks and Stars. The Science of when Things Happened.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Students continuing in their current program of study will have their tuition fees indexed annually from the year in which you commenced your program. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee Description
1994-2003 $1542
2014 $2478
2013 $2472
2012 $2472
2011 $2424
2010 $2358
2009 $2286
2008 $2286
2007 $2286
2006 $2286
2005 $2286
2004 $1926
International fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $3618
2014 $3762
2013 $3756
2012 $3756
2011 $3756
2010 $3750
2009 $3618
2008 $3618
2007 $3618
2006 $3618
2005 $3618
2004 $3618
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4802 17 Feb 2014 07 Mar 2014 31 Mar 2014 30 May 2014 In Person N/A

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
8236 21 Jul 2014 08 Aug 2014 31 Aug 2014 30 Oct 2014 In Person N/A

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions