Would you do the World Archaeology (A251) again?

Despite ups and downs during the course, the answer is definitely a “yes”.

There’s certainly an awful lot of reading to be done for it. To say that the course text is 800 pages long is misleading as you “only” read about half of it but you also read a lot of material outside the text so count on basically reading that volume of paper. Note too that it’s about A4 size, two up and with a small font: together that means that it’s got a word count similar to that of about four normal OU texts and you’re reading all that over around 5 months. Moreover, it’s source material and not in the, generally, easy-read style of the OU texts ie it will take you longer to read than the corresponding amount of reading from an OU text.

The course has a rather boring start with topics around just what archaeology actually is but after you struggle though that (the first two weeks or so) it’s into the beginnings of agriculture. Next up is the formation of cities, then empires and finally a rag-bag of topics including rock-art, slavery and the dispersal of the Pacific peoples.

You’ve a TMA on each of the first three topics with the ECA offering a choice albeit both choices requiring you to use examples from three of the four blocks. Worth noting is that you’ve an assignment every four weeks. With a course start date of early November that means an assignment at the end of November, December and January with the ECA/EMA due mid-March. Although it’s a 30 pointer, the course runs at 60 point speed and more like 90 points at times given the volume of reading to be done.

Overall, it’s a course that doesn’t hang around. There’s just enough time to get a flavour of one of the topics before you move on. Or rather, it seems like you only get a flavour of each: during the ECA/EMA you’ll find out that you’ve actually got quite a good grasp of the subject.

It’s a course that I’ll genuinely miss doing. Hopefully I’ll find that the medieval to modern history and empires courses will have a similar feel to them.

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