BA History and French

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
The Story of Britain

Course unit fact file
Unit code CAHE10142
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Classics, Ancient History & Egyptology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Who were the first people to colonise Britain and what did the country look like? When did people start farming and why? Why did prehistoric people build great stone circles, barrows and hilllforts? How did the Romans transform the landscape? Did the Vikings really terrorise Britain? How did castles work? What underlies the wealth of the great country houses? How did the industrial revolution transform both the rural and urban landscape?

The Story of Britain provides a long chronological overview of the archaeology of this island archipelago, from its earliest inhabitation to the great changes of the modern era. It explores this through the artefacts, landscapes and buildings which help us understand different ways of life in the past, as well as the range of ideas and topics which archaeologists are interested in: social identity and conflict, creativity, technology and ideology. Whether you are a budding archaeologist or historian, or want to dip into a course about Britain’s past (particularly study abroad students), this is an exciting module which will deepen your knowledge and appreciation of the past all around you.  


This course aims to deliver a broad overview of the archaeology in Britain as well as introduce some of the concepts and topics that have structured archaeological thought in recent years. The course covers a wide chronological range, from the earliest humans to the industrial era. It will focus on key debates and questions in British archaeology for each period, through the exploration of impressive landscapes, fascinating finds and iconic buildings. Its aim is to show how the analysis of the past can be used to interrogate the ‘big’ questions of social identity and mobility, power and conflict as well as human creativity. It also aims to explore ideology and belief through ritual and funerary practice. 

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of the course students should be able to:

  • Have an understanding of the chronological sequence for British Archaeology;
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the major sites from each period;
  • Have an understanding of the key debates, issues and themes in British Archaeology;
  • Have an appreciation of the chronological development of the British landscape.


Intellectual skills

By the end of the course students should be able to:

  • Critically assess scholarly materials;
  • Summarize a body of assigned literature;
  • Understand the nature of scholarly referencing;
  • Structure and sustain arguments in both written and oral formats.


Practical skills

By the end of the course students should have developed:

  • Ability to make full use of learning resources via the JRULM;
  • Ability to make fully use of learning resources via Blackboard;
  • Essay writing;
  • Note taking;
  • Scholarly referencing.


Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of the course students should have developed their:

  • Writing skills;
  • Peer-review skills;
  • Independent learning skills;
  • Group-work skills;
  • Oral presentation skills.

Assessment methods

Essay 60%
Site Guide  40%


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback

Formative and summative feedback will be delivered on written assignments through Blackboard feedback comments.

Oral feedback

Seminar discussions provide continuous feedback on understanding and contextualisation. In addition, students may make an appointment with the module co-ordinator during their office hours (face-to-face or bookable online sessions), to gain academic advice throughout the semester. Written feedback should then be discussed face-to-face with the student's Academic Advisor, in one of the bi-semester personal appointments offered to the student.


Recommended reading

Core texts (available as select e-chapters or e-books):

  • Bradley, R. 2019. The Prehistory of Britain and Ireland. London, Routledge.
  •  Cunliffe, B. 2013. Britain Begins. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  • Hoskins, W. (1955 and any subsequent edition) The Making of the English Landscape. London, Hodder & Stoughton.
  • Pryor, F. 2010. The Making of the British Landscape. Allen Lane, London.
  • Period Specific (available as select e-chapters or e-books):
  • Pettitt, P.B. & White, M.J. 2012 The British Palaeolithic: Human Societies at the Edge of the Pleistocene World. London, Routledge.
  • Milner, N., Taylor, B., Conneller, C. and Schadla-Hall, T. 2013 Star Carr: Life in Britain after the Ice Age. York, CBA.
  • Conneller, C., and Warren, G., (eds.). 2006. Mesolithic Britain and Ireland: New Approaches. Stroud: Tempus.
  • Ray, K. and Thomas, J. 2018 Neolithic Britain: the Transformation of Social Worlds. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Parker Pearson, M., Pollard, J., Richards, C., Thomas, J., Tilley, C. and Welham, K. 2015 Stonehenge: Making Sense of a Prehistoric Mystery. London: Council for British Archaeology.
  • Giles, M. 2012 A forged glamour: landscape, identity and material culture in the Iron Age. Oxford, Windgather Press. (especially chapter 3, 4 and 5).
  • Mattingly, D. 2006 An Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire. London, Penguin.
  • Fleming, R. 2013. Britain After Rome. Penguin Books, London.
  • Thurley, S. 2013. The Building of England: How the History of England has Shaped our Buildings. London, William Collins.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Melanie Giles Unit coordinator

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