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Material Culture


Admission requirements

Material Studies or equivalent course obtained.


The main aim of the course is twofold: to provide insights into diverse theoretical and analytical approaches and methodologies to the study of material culture, as well as to advance your knowledge about current procedures used to classify and characterise archaeological finds.

The course seeks to integrate the practice of recording archaeological objects and the need of anchoring the data gathered within a solid research framework.

The ultimate goal is to illustrate how to exploit and combine the analytical procedures today at our disposal in order to address current issues in archaeology, thus, how to pass from the simple act of processing finds to crafting histories.

Course set-up

  • Lectures in which specific research questions will be discussed through the lens of materiality. Lectures will offer thematic material lectures and case studies, and will address macro-themes in material culture studies;

  • Practical sessions in groups will take place on campus and beyond (city of Leiden, museums). You will also have the opportunity to ask questions about the content of the lectures during the practical classes;

  • Practical sessions are instrumental to gather the necessary information in order to carry out the written assignment: a handbook/portfolio describing an assemblage of objects.

Course objectives

Upon completion of the module students will acquire:

  • Insight in broad theoretical and analytical concepts on material culture;

  • Knowledge of widely used methods in analysing material culture;

  • Ability to identify and analyse the most common archaeological finds from excavations and surveys;

  • Learn how to report your analysis on archaeological material in a written assignment.


Course schedule details can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Practicals;

  • Assignments.

Course load

  • 7 x 2 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • 6 x 3 hours practical/project work (1 ec);

  • 280 pages of literature (2 ec);

  • 1 written assignment (max. 2,500 words) (1 ec).

Assessment method

  • 1 exam (open questions) (50%);

  • 1 written assignment (50%).

Assessment of both the theoretical and practical part will take place after the completion of the course. Students are allowed to retake the theory exam and to re-submit their report in case of a fail.
The theory exam and written assignment will be marked separately, but there will be one final result. Grades over 5.0 for the theory exam can be compensated with the grade obtained for the written assignment.

Assessment deadlines

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button. To view the assessment deadline(s), make sure to select the course with a code ending in T and/or R.

Reading list

Selection of papers to be agreed upon by the lecturers, and practical/project-specific documentation.


Registration in uSis is mandatory. You can register for this course until 5 days before the first class.

Registration in uSis automatically leads to enrollment in the corresponding Brightspace module. Therefore you do not need to enroll in Brightspace, but make sure to register for this course in uSis.

You are required to register for all lectures and tutorials well in time. The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, you are not required to do this in uSis.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. D.J.G. (Dennis) Braekmans.


Compulsory attendance.