Study Archaeology & Anthropology with our Oxford Summer School 2018 | Students aged 16-18
Class Summary

This course introduces students to a broad array of intellectually stimulating and thought-provoking debates linking the two disciplines of Archaeology and Anthropology. Over two weeks, the course will explore some of the key theoretical principles underpinning archaeological and anthropological practice, illustrated by real case studies from prehistory to the present day. Ultimately, students will find themselves reconsidering humanity in an entirely new light.

A particular advantage of our Oxford location is that students also have the opportunity to adopt a hands-on approach: handling archaeological artefacts, visiting one of Oxford’s most outstanding museum collections and even participating in a mock excavation. Students are also encouraged to take a personalised approach to the subject in reassessing their own day-to-day behavioural manifestations and social relations. Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum is also a fantastic resource for students: founded in 1884, it houses more than 500,000 anthropological artefacts sourced from across the globe, ranging from the beautiful (intricate Micronesian amulets) to the bizarre (a tiny silver bottle from Sussex, believed to contain an even tinier witch…).

Over the two-week period, students will develop a sound understanding of the principal aims and methods of Archaeology and Anthropology, and begin to think critically about how professionals derive information from ancient artefacts and ethnographic evidence. We encourage our students to be independent thinkers, challenging preconceptions and adopting well-informed attitudes towards relevant issues: the study of Archaeology and Anthropology touches on cultural diversity, the ownership of heritage, and differing ethical standpoints, as well as political ideologies, international diplomatic strategy and group identity.

The course emphasises the relevance of archaeology and anthropology to modern everyday life, shedding light on the biological, social, cultural and cognitive aspects of human nature. Students are assessed on the basis of their written work (one short essay and one report) as well as interactive assignments (a debate session, a mock excavation/archaeological surveying exercise, and a lithics technical drawing project), thereby covering a variety of the skills required for the study of Archaeology and Anthropology at university and beyond.


No previous knowledge of the subjects will be required.

Suggested Reading

The following optional texts can be read if desired in preparation for the course, though they are entirely optional:

  • Greene, K. (2002) Archaeology: An introduction – this is a classic introduction to the basic principles and techniques of archaeology.
  • Monaghan, J. and Just, P. (2000) Social and cultural anthropology: A very short introduction – this book does exactly what it says on the tin. It is unpretentious, very readable and combines an accessible account of some of the discipline’s guiding principles and methodology with abundant examples and illustrations of anthropologists at work.
  • Sabloff, J. (2008) Archaeology matters: Action archaeology in the modern world – this is a fascinating exploration of the effects of archaeology in the modern world, ranging from its role as a legal tool upholding the rights of communities to its contribution to increasing crop yields and guiding local communities in tourism development.