Fall 2020 - ARCH 322 D100

Special Topics in Biological Anthropology I (3)

ARCH of Plagues & Epidemics

Class Number: 8385

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    ARCH 131.



Select topics relating to biological anthropology.


Plagues, epidemics and humans have co-existed since ancient times. They have caused and have often been caused by massive social, economic and political changes in the past. This course will introduce students to basic epidemiological concepts and apply them to the understanding of infectious disease dynamics in past human societies. Plagues and epidemics in the past will be examined under the lens of archaeology, using skeletal remains, burial practices, settlement patterns, material culture and other archaeological evidence to document the different types of epidemics occurring in different times and places. This course links evidence from skeletal remains and other the archaeological evidence to answer larger questions such as why do pandemics start and why do they end, and how have they changed the demographics and social fabric of past societies, as well the impact on individuals. Specific epidemics will be examined such as childhood infections, the Black Death, leprosy, tuberculosis, syphilis, cholera, typhus, small-pox and malaria as well as modern plagues and pandemics. These will be examined alongside major changes in human prehistory and history, such as sedentism, agriculture, urbanism, colonization, industrialization and globalization


  • Ten weekly on-line quizzes/assignments (10% each) 100%


This course will be taught by a blend of asynchronous (recorded lectures) and synchronous (real time interaction) online learning methods.



Sherman, I.R. 2006. The Power of Plagues. Washington: American Society for Microbiology
ISBN: 978-1-55581-35

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Students with Disabilities (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.

Deferred grades will be given only on the basis of authenticated medical disability.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).