• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Archaeology
  • Areas of interest Archaeology, Environmental Studies, Environmental Science

The study of ‘natural’ deposits such as ice sheets, glaciers, marine and lake sediments, peat bogs and soils may be used to shed light on past human environments. Such deposits are often rich in archaeobotanical remains,  which can provide sensitive indicators of past climate, soils and vegetation, and animal remains, which inform about the resources available to past human populations. These assemblages provide us clues to interpret human behaviour and anthropogenic impact in the environment, as well as insights on how climate change has affected human populations from the Quaternary until the present.

Archaeology offers unique long-term and culturally-specific perspectives on human–climate interaction. Our discipline provides baselines for evaluating contemporary climate issues such as sea level rise, island abandonment, biogeographic shifts and habitat change or debating the reintroduction of lost species.
This course examines human–climate interaction in the archaeological record from 0.5 million years ago, through the development of modern humans and the last glacial maximum (LGM), into the historic present.
We will learn how to use appropriate methods to investigate climate change in the past. Through the introduction of case studies, we will address the methodologies applied and the problematics documented in environmental archaeology analyses. We will conduct practical analyses on soil, archaeobotanical and osteoarchaeological samples in seminars and tutorials.

Learning Outcomes

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

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
  1. Critically discuss the theories, methods, limitations and practice of environmental archaeology;
  2. Apply environmental archaeology methods and techniques to different research questions;
  3. Undertake a research project in environmental archaeology;
  4. Design environmental sampling procedures; and
  5. Sort and analyse archaeobotanical, invertebrate and vertebrate remains.

Indicative Assessment

Research on Archaeology and Climate Change (50%) comprising:
     - oral presentation, 10-15 minutes (10%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2 & 3]
     - argumentative report (3000 words 40%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2 & 3]
Workshops/tutorial reports (50%) comprising:
     - 8 tutorial worksheets, 250 words each (3.75% each, total 30%) [Learning Outcomes 2, 4 & 5]
     - 4 Masterclass worksheets, 250 words each (5% each, total 20%) [Learning Outcomes 2, 4 & 5]

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 50 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 15 hours of lectures, 15 hours of tutorials, and 20 hours of masterclasses (4x5-hour masterclasses held during the semester in weeks 2, 4, 8 and 10); and
c) 80 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Prescribed Texts

Lowe, J.J. and Walker, M.J.C. 1997 Reconstructing Quaternary Environments. (2nd edition) Addison Wesley Longman: Harlow.  
Roberts, N. 1998 The Holocene: an Environmental History (2nd edition) Blackwell Publishing: Oxford. 
Williams, M., Dunkerley, D., De Dekker, P., Kershaw, P., and Chappell, J. 1998 (2nd edition) Quaternary Environments. Hodder Arnold: London.
Evans, J. & O'Connor, T.P. 1999. Environmental archaeology: Principles and methods, Stroud: Sutton Publishing Ltd.
Turney, C., Canti, M., Branch, N. 2005. Environmental archaeology: Theoretical and practical approaches, London: Routledge.
Crate, S.A. and Nuttall, M. (eds) 2009 Anthropology and Climate Change: from Encounters to Actions. Left Coast Press. 


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. Tuition fees are indexed annually. 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
2020 $3570
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5460
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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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.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
7227 25 Jul 2022 01 Aug 2022 31 Aug 2022 28 Oct 2022 Online or In Person View

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