BA Archaeology and History / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Social Life in Ancient Egypt 

Course unit fact file
Unit code CAHE20072
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


While many museum exhibitions, documentaries and books have focused on the death and Afterlife of the ancient Egyptians, this unit will focus on the body of evidence for daily life and social interactions. It will consider how the Egyptians lived rather than how they died. It will use a mixture of archaeological, textual and iconographic material and focus in particular on sites such as Deir el-Medina to cover topics such as gender roles, inheritance patterns, family relationship, sexuality, the law and economy. The unit will consist of two weekly lectures combined with a weekly seminar.


  • to introduce students to the evidence for daily life and social interactions in ancient Egypt.
  • to encourage students to develop a better understanding of how non-elite and elite people lived in Egypt based on scholarly research.
  • to provide a broader and more accurate representation of ancient Egyptian society than that projected through funerary archaeology alone.
  • to encourage students to develop a more critical approach to the analysis of primary data.

Knowledge and understanding

  • to provide a detailed overview of everyday life in an ancient Egyptian town or village in particular during the New Kingdom.
  • to demonstrate basic knowledge of ancient Egyptian family relationships and interactions.
  • to show an awareness of some of the types of primary sources which can inform us about ancient Egyptian daily life

Intellectual skills

  • to conduct high quality guided research.
  • to present a clear and balanced academic argument in written form.
  • to engage critically with scholarly arguments on the topic.

Practical skills

  • to effectively and independently manage time.
  • to construct a comprehensive bibliography of secondary sources on a relevant topic.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

•    to discuss pertinent research questions in an open forum.
•    to conduct guided research based on critical analysis of scholarly literature and some primary source material.
•    to construct and present a clear, reasoned argument in written form.

Employability skills

This course involves several useful employability skills, primary of which is the ability to conduct independent research, to distil information from a variety of sources, to critically evaluate these sources and use them to underpin a clear and coherent argument in written form.

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or Summative

Weighting within unit (if summative)


Group presentation on a provided topic




Resit Assessment

Assessment task


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback


Oral feedback in a dedicated seminar session and upon request during office hours


Recommended reading

•    Eyre, C. 2013. Use of Documents in Pharaonic Egypt. Oxford University Press.
•    Grajetzki, W. 2006. The Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt: History, Archaeology and Society. Duckworth.
•    Lloyd, A. B (ed.) 2014. Ancient Egypt: State and Society. Oxford University Press.
•    Meskell, L. 1999. Archaeologies of Social Life. Blackwell.
•    Szpakowska, K. M. 2008. Daily Life in Ancient Egypt: Recreating Lahun. Blackwell.

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nicky Nielsen Unit coordinator

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