6 x 2-hour lectures per semester
6 x 2-hour laboratories per semester
18 units of archaeology topics
Topic description

Environmental change is perceived as a major risk for many human societies around the world. Yet, contemporary societies are certainly not the first to experience 'environmental change', and nor are they the first to initiate it. This topic draws on decades of archaeological research into the complexities of human-environment relations in the past, with a particular focus on the traditional terrain of the archaeologist: those societies whose histories lay beyond access via historical documentary records. Drawing on global case studies, we will discuss how environments have changed throughout the past 100,000 years and how a range of different human societies have perceived, responded to and altered their environments through time.

Educational aims

This topic aims to:

  • Introduce students to the history of environmental archaeology
  • Improve students' knowledge of datasets and debates relating to global environmental change over the past 100,000 years
  • Build in-depth knowledge of how a range of different human societies might have perceived, responded to, and altered environments in the past
  • Enhance familiarity with theoretical debates in archaeology, anthropology and related fields about the relationships between humans and the environment
  • Reflect on contemporary debates about environmental change and the role of archaeological research in these debates
Expected learning outcomes
On completion of this topic you will be expected to be able to:

  1. Evaluate key models for understanding global environmental dynamics over the past 100,000 years
  2. Critique major theoretical debates and methodological approaches within the field of environmental archaeology
  3. Critically assess global case studies that have investigated human-environmental interactions

Key dates and timetable

(1), (2)

Each class is numbered in brackets.
Where more than one class is offered, students normally attend only one.

Classes are held weekly unless otherwise indicated.


If you are enrolled for this topic, but all classes for one of the activities (eg tutorials) are full,
contact your College Office for assistance. Full classes frequently occur near the start of semester.

Students may still enrol in topics with full classes as more places will be made available as needed.

If this padlock appears next to an activity name (eg Lecture), then class registration is closed for this activity.

Class registration normally closes at the end of week 2 of each semester.

Classes in a stream are grouped so that the same students attend all classes in that stream.
Registration in the stream will result in registration in all classes.
  Unless otherwise advised, classes are not held during semester breaks or on public holidays.