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Current issues in Quaternary research


Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

Degree students (including Dutch BA graduates): BA or BSc degree in Archaeology or a relevant discipline.


The idea behind this course is for it to act as a bridge from student to early career academic. Students will be exposed to a conference setting. They will have to research a topic, write an essay, an extended abstract and produce a PowerPoint presentation, and deliver the presentation to an audience. Students who are not presenting will read the relevant literature provided by the speaking students, and ask the speakers questions.

During the course, 3 mini conferences will take place, relating to current Quaternary research and climate change in the Early, Middle and Late Pleistocene in Europe. A visiting senior academic, active in the investigation of climate change of the 3 periods, will be present at each mini conference. This senior academic will also present, ask questions, and participate in the resulting discussions.

The course is open to RMSc Bioarchaeology students. Although participating in the same lectures/mini conferences, their assignments will be different. They will write a different type of essay and give another presentation, in which the topic is studied in more depth, critically reviewed and new directions for research are formulated.

Course objectives

  • To gain up-to-date knowledge of climate change during the past 2,6 million years in Europe, and to understand its relevance to hominins and humans;

  • Ability to independently research literature on a given theme;

  • To understand (recent) geological climate fluctuations and their relationship to present climate change and climate forecasts;

  • Ability to critically assess current research on climate fluctuations, present the outcome, and voice one’s own properly argumented opinion;

  • Ability to present a written essay and an oral paper on a theme that contains a critical assessment of the literature, and includes the student’s own properly argumented opinion.

In addition to the above, RMSc-students develop the ability to

  • critically review the significance of current research;

  • report such reviews in writing in an esay;

  • formulate innovative new directions of research.

Ects distribution

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 14 hours of lectures (1 ects);

  • Reading list (2 ects);

  • Presentation (1 ects);

  • Written assignment with annotated bibliography, and essay (1 ects).


Course schedule details can be found in the MA time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Self-instruction with guidance;

  • In a conference setting: discuss, ask questions, and deliver an oral presentation on a theme.

Assessment method

  • Active participation (literature review, questions asked) (30%);

  • Presentation (PowerPoint and oral delivery) (30%);

  • Essay (40%).

Assessment deadline

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

To be compiled by the students.


Register for this course via uSis.
Instructions for registration can be found in the uSis manual.

Contact information

For more information about this course, please contact prof. dr. M. van Kolfschoten or dr. M.H. Field.