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School of Social and Political Science: Undergraduate study


Year 1 and 2

Programme Handbooks

The Programme  Handbooks have been prepared for students undertaking the MA Honours programme in Social Anthropology.  They include information on the aims, structure and requirements of the degree, the general rules governing assessment and examinations and contact information for students seeking advice, support, or seeking information on postgraduate study and other careers.

Year 1 Programme Handbook 2017-18

Year 2 Programme Handbook 2016 - 17


Social Anthropology 1A - The Life Course

Semester 1

This course is intended as an introduction to social anthropology - taking as its central theme and organising structure the life course from birth to death, conceived in very broad terms.  As well as encompassing life crisis moments and rituals of birth, marriage, and death, the course includes such themes as gender, personhood, work and making a living, the house, consumption and exchange, health, and the body.  It begins with a brief consideration of what anthropologists do – thinking about participant observation and fieldwork; and it ends with a brief discussion of how anthropological subjects are placed - and place themselves - in history.

Social Anthropology 1B: Anthropology Matters

Semester 2 (Course handbook available from January 2017)

What does anthropology have to say about some of the most important issues facing us today? Anthropologists don’t just engage with small-scale exotic societies but have always contributed to public debates about global issues that affect us all. In this course we examine how concepts and ideas that have driven anthropology help us shed new light on debates that are at the heart of contemporary questions about how our societies work. Each week will include two sessions exploring a single issue and anthropological contributions to surrounding debates.

Fundamentals: Studying Anthropology

Semester 1

The goal of this course is to introduce you to the practicalities of studying anthropology at university. Practicalities, not only in the sense of “What will I be doing and how will I do it?” but also “What’s the point of studying anthropology?” Thus as well as providing you with the academic study skills necessary to succeed at university level, we’ll also be addressing the different motivations people have for anthropological enquiry. By the end of the course you will have acquired necessary skills in literature searches and creating a bibliography; in how to read and understand the argument of anthropological articles; in how to structure and write an anthropological essay; and in basic revision techniques appropriate to university level examinations. The course will also assist you with the development of core presentation skills.

Fundamentals: Anthropological Practice

Semester 2 (Course handbook available from January 2017)

This course introduces students to anthropological practice outside academia, helps students understand potential career routes after anthropology honours, and the ways in which anthropological knowledge and skills relates to careers outside academia.  The course includes a variety of presentations from alumnai and applied anthropologists.  It
also includes a semester long group project developing an online presentation.  The course will introduce students to issues around 'applied' and 'public anthropology'.  Broadly speaking, applied anthropology takes anthropological skills and insights, and puts them to work in other fields of work.  Public anthropology is often seen as using anthropological insights to make contributions to wider public debates.


Social Anthropology 2: Key Concepts

Semester 1

This course will provide a historical overview of anthropological thought and will be taught through an introduction to keywords that have helped to shape the development of social anthropology.  The thematic approach is designed to be engaging and stimulating to students and to help to foster critical conceptual and theoretical thought.  It will highlight the continued significance of key concepts and oppositions over time.  The course is organized around the exploration of a cluster of linked keywords: science and romance; structure, society and culture; and time and change; the human and the environment.  Lectures and tutorials will explore the place of each cluster of keywords in the history of anthropology, while providing examples of their continued importance in contemporary anthropology.

Ethnography: Theory and Practice

Semester 2 (Course handbook available from January 2017)

This course introduces undergraduate students to the theory and practice of ethnographic fieldwork. At the heart of this course is a collaborative project in which students will learn about qualitative methods by putting them to the test in practical group work. Their collective ethnographies will require them to write extensive field notes, which will be assessed, and which will function as an extended period of learning to write effectively in an academic manner. The course will be open to all second year undergraduates within the School of Social and Political Science.

Fundamentals: Ethnographic Theory

Semester 1

What is a concept? What is a theory? How do anthropologists produce their knowledge?  This course addresses these questions through a focus on the relationship between ethnography and theory in ethnographic writing. The course takes a close look at the different kinds of methods, evidence and writing that anthropologists use to build their arguments and theoretical contributions, using key texts, interviews, films, diagrams and images as key exemplars.

Fundamentals: Reading & Writing Anthropology

Semester 2 (Course handbook available from January 2017)

This course takes at its premise that both reading and writing well in anthropology can be cultivated through practice.

Students will be introduced to some of the theories of knowledge that underpin the ways in which anthropologists write, the questions they ask, and the techniques they use to answer them.  Through the close reading of one book-length ethnography and other anthropological texts, as well as through various writing exercises, students will begin to understand what it means to think, read, and write anthropologically.  The course aims to develop students' skills in reading and writing specifically geared towards thinking through and writing up their current and future ethnographic research.  The final session of the course allows students to discuss their expectations and concerns of transitioning to honours in social anthropology and provides them with strategies for managing this transition.

  • Fundamentals: Reading & Writing Anthropology