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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: The Archaeology of Children and Childhood (PGHC11570)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryIt has been stated that '...while children are a relatively unchanging fact of life, childhood is a constantly shifting concept' (Marten, 2018: 1). This course will explore childhood as a social construct, and the archaeological evidence for differing experiences of children over time and space. It will incorporate multidisciplinary perspectives from history, classics, and anthropology on themes such as identity, agency, gender, mobility, health and diet, structural violence and political/social reform.
Course description The study of children and childhood has long been of interest in the fields of archaeology, history, and classics, highlighting the importance of this particular age group in understanding past societies. It is a matter of fact that children have always been present throughout pre-history to the modern-day, but their voices and lived experiences have not always been directly accessible, often presented through an archaeological record generated, and interpreted, by adults. The concept of 'childhood' too is a social construct, subject to the needs of a population within a particular geographic or temporal context, and economic, political, cultural and environmental influence.

Within this course, students will take a critical approach to how we can identify evidence of children and childhood in the past through a combination of theoretical and scientific approaches, including osteoarchaeology, analysis of settlements, material culture, and funerary practices. It will also incorporate historical, classical, and anthropological perspectives to explore the shifting perception of childhood over time and space, and evidence of identity and agency of children in past societies, highlighting the importance of interdisciplinary research. It will cover a range of themes including: childcare practices, health and disease, death and burial, voluntary and forced migration, domestic and occupational roles, marginalised childhoods, and transitions between life stages. Recognising the unique role that the study of childhood in the past can play in the education of children in the present day, students will also consider the value of research-led public outreach initiatives throughout the course. They will also gain hands-on experience in analysis of archaeological human skeletal remains during a lab-based practical session.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking The Archaeology of Children and Childhood (Online) (PGHC11568) OR The Archaeology of Children and Childhood (ARCA10098)
Other requirements Students must be enrolled in a taught MSc programme.
Additional Costs Optional cost of public transport for field trip within Edinburgh.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesStudents must be enrolled in a taught MSc programme.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 29, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 2, Fieldwork Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 163 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
1,000 word proposal for a museum display based on an object identified in the NMS visit (30%)
3,000 word essay (70%)
Feedback Students will receive written feedback on a mid-semester assignment, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback with the Course Organiser during office hours or by appointment, at least three weeks before the deadline of their final assignment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Apply theoretical and scientific methods of interpreting archaeological evidence to further our understanding of children and childhood in the past
  2. Critically assess sources of evidence relating to children and childhood in the past for potential bias in method of formation and the process of interpretation
  3. Employ basic methods relating to the osteoarchaeological analysis of juvenile skeletal remains, and evaluate ethical considerations associated with their inclusion within research relating to children in the past
  4. Write an extended discursive analysis on changing perceptions of childhood over time, integrating multiple lines of evidence
  5. Develop strategies for research-led public engagement through the construction of a museum display proposal
Reading List
Baxter, J.A. (2022) The Archaeology of Childhood. 2nd Edition. Rowman & Littlefield, Maryland.

Lewis, M. (2007) The Bioarchaeology of Children. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Marten, J. (2018) The History of Childhood: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Mays, S., Gowland, R., Halcrow, S. and Murphy, E. (2017) Child bioarchaeology: perspectives on the past 10 years. Childhood in the Past, 10 (1): 38-56.

Lillehammer, G. (2015) 25 Years with the 'Child' and the Archaeology of Childhood. Childhood in the Past, 8(2): 78-86.

Crawford, S., Hadley, D. and Shepherd, G., eds (2018) The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Childhood. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Murphy, E.M. and Le Roy, M., eds (2017) Children, death and burial: archaeological discourses. Oxbow Books, Oxford.

Romero, M.S., García, E.A. and Jiménez, G.A., eds (2015) Children, Spaces and Identity. Oxbow Books, Oxford.

Cunningham, C., Scheuer, L. and Black, S. (2016) Developmental Juvenile Osteology. 2nd Edition. Academic Press, Massachusetts.

Coskunsu, G. ed (2015) The Archaeology of Childhood: interdisciplinary perspectives on an archaeological enigma. State University of New York Press, New York.

Fibiger, L. (2014) Misplaced Childhood? Interpersonal violence and children in Neolithic Europe. In: C. Knüsel and M.J. Smith (eds) The Routledge handbook of the bioarchaeology of human conflict. Routledge, London.

Clarke, A. (2019) Playful Encounters: Engaging Children in Public Archaeology. In: H. Williams, C. Pudney and A. Ezzeldin (eds) Public Archaeology. Arts of Engagement. Archaeopress, Oxford.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills On successful completion of the course, students should be able to:

Gather and critically assess relevant information
Effectively integrate multiple sources of evidence from different disciplines
Develop a reasoned argument, support it with relevant evidence, and communicate it appropriately and persuasively
Present their ideas and analyses in a coherent fashion to diverse audiences and in a number of different formats
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Sophie Newman
Tel: (0131 6)50 4620
Course secretaryMiss Lauren Smith
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