The Anthropology curriculum has been designed to ensure the progressive development of knowledge and skills throughout the programme. This is achieved primarily through the use of compulsory and pre-requisite modules.
In Year 1 there are four compulsory modules that provide a sound understanding of the key concepts and core disciplinary and transferable skills.
- Introduction to Social Anthropology provides an introduction to the history and practice of social anthropology as a foundation for advanced modules in Years 2 and 3.
- Introduction to Japanese Society and Culture provides an ethnographic regional course that enables students to learn about the application of Social Anthropological concepts and approaches in a particular social context.
- Deep History introduces anthropological and archaeological concepts and findings as a basis for later archaeological modules and also contributes to the further study of human evolution which is developed in Introduction to Biological Anthropology.
- Introduction to Biological Anthropology examines key issues in understanding humans and other primates within the context of biological evolution. Biosocial aspects of human variation and human ecology are also considered.
In Year 2, students must take three compulsory modules:
- Research Methods in Social Anthropology is a practical module involving reading about methods used in social anthropology, but also considerable independent study in investigating appropriate methods for the student's own dissertation or other project.
- Social Anthropology Theory examines the emergence of social and cultural anthropology as a separate discipline with reference to key works of leading contributors to the development of anthropological theory.
- Reading Contemporary Ethnography introduces students to a variety of approaches to reading and writing ethnography, the primary method used by social anthropologists for documenting and analysing culture and society.
In addition, in year 2 and 3 students must take at least one of the alternative compulsory modules listed below dealing with some key topics in social anthropology. These are complemented by a range of acceptable modules from within anthropology and closely related modules taught outside of anthropology. These are indicated below as 'alternative acceptable', and students may take a maximum of two of these as part of their programme.
In year 3 students will take a total of at least six honours modules, including the compulsory Social Anthropology Dissertation, which is a double module. For the dissertation, they will undertake a research project on a topic of their choice, under the guidance of a supervisor from the Social Anthropology teaching staff.
As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework,
the modules you can choose from may vary from those shown here.
Introduction to Social Anthropology
This module introduces the work of social anthropologists and some of the more pervasive ideas that they share in a series of lectures that are taken by the social anthropologists in the department.
Introduction to Japanese Society and Culture
An introduction to the study of modern Japanese society and culture, primarily from an anthropological perspective, but also incorporating overviews of Japan's religion, economy and modern history.
This module provides an introduction to the study of the prehistoric past, exploring the key developments which have shaped both our species and our world.
Introduction to Biological Anthropology
In this module you will examine key issues in understanding humans and other primates within the context of biological evolution. Biosocial aspects of human variation and human ecology are also considered.
Introduction to Human Geography
This module outlines geographical perspectives on the complex relationships between people and the environments, spaces and places in which they live and work.
Top up modules:
Social Differences and Divisions
This module is designed to provide you with an introductory knowledge of Sociology and the different ways in which sociological analysis makes sense of the social world, and the relationships between individuals, groups and social institutions.
Foundations of Social Theory
This module offers a general introduction to the principle themes and concerns of social theory, starting with the works of classical sociological theorists Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber.
Years 2 and 3
Research Methods in Social Anthropology
This is a practical module involving reading about methods used in social anthropology,
but also considerable independent study in investigating appropriate methods
for the student's own dissertation or other project.
Social Anthropology Theory
This module examines the emergence of social and cultural anthropology as a separate
discipline with reference to key works of leading contributors to the development
of anthropological theory.
Reading Contemporary Ethnography
This module introduces students to a variety of approaches to reading and writing
ethnography, the primary method used by social anthropologists for documenting
and analysing culture and society.
Alternative compulsory modules (students must take at least one of these):
Anthropology of Art
An introduction to the anthropology of art, its methods, scope, and findings. The
module runs in alternate years.
Anthropology in Action
This module provides students with an opportunity to explore some of the many practical
applications of anthropology. Additionally, it will provide an opportunity to
demonstrate to students the wide range of possible future careers open to Anthropology
European Societies (double module)
This module explores the relevance of an anthropological approach to the study
of European societies, with reference to both urban and rural sectors.
Anthropology of Ritual
Anthropological approaches to ritual as a universal feature of human social behaviour,
not only in religious but also in secular contexts, including for instance: politics
and power relations, the construction of social identities and the reproduction
and invention of 'tradition'.
The Anthropology of Relatedness
This module explores the broader economic and political forces that shape relationships
within households and family networks, drawing on ethnographic studies from a
wide range of historical and contemporary contexts.
This module takes a biosocial approach to understanding how humans inter-relate
with their physical and biotic environment and the implications for human populations
past, present and future.
Personhood, Gender, and the Body in Contemporary Japan
This module will introduce anthropological perspectives on personhood, gender,
and the body, with reference to ethnographic material from Japan. This will also
include a discussion of issues relating to medical anthropology, including reproductive
technologies, the end of life, and organ donation.
Fantasy and the Supernatural in Japanese Culture
This module examines the supernatural in Japanese popular culture. We will explore
contemporary popular narratives of the supernatural and fantastic as expressed
in anime, manga, gaming, etc., as well as in rituals, fortune-telling, and new
Japan at Play
A study of Japan made by examining forms of play in that society from an anthropological
Alternative Acceptable modules (students may take a maximum of two of these as part of their programme):
Culture and Change
The module critically examines the ways in which changing local identities and
globalising culture shape ‘place’ in the world, and aims to unravel
the complexities of the terms ‘global’/ ‘local’, ‘culture’
and ‘change’/ ‘development’.
Cross-cultural Perspectives in Psychology
Examines the relevance of cross-cultural material to key topics in psychology including
emotion, socialization, the self, the development of cognitive skills, the relationship
between language and thought, and intercultural communication.
Gender and Society
This module explores the social processes that shape women’s and men’s
lives in contemporary societies will be developed by exploring a range of theoretical
approaches and empirical studies. The centrality of gender in everyday life will
be highlighted as will the ways in which gender relations are reflected and reproduced
in social institutions.
‘Race’, Ethnicity and Exclusion
This module aims at exploring the concepts of ‘race’, ethnicity and
racism by integrating a theoretical analysis with specific issues, including
education, employment, housing, migration, policing, and the impact of anti-discrimination
This module explores the origins, nature and consequences of global social change.
Tensions between the global and the local will be examined as they relate to
economic, political and cultural processes in contemporary societies.
Conservation and Heritage Management
This module examines the evolution of heritage landscapes and their conservation
and management through a study of the physical and human processes that have
impacted upon them. The module aims to help you understand the fundamental concepts,
principles and theories of environmental conservation and heritage management
in line with sustainable development.
Development and Social Change
This module examines geographical approaches to international development. Typical
issues covered include: the history of development; political geography, colonialism
and theories of development; development and international financial institutions;
poverty, famine and hunger; social development and participatory and community-based
approaches; and development as capacity building.
These are taken in the third year. You must take a minimum of six credits, including
the dissertation, which is compulsory. The dissertation is a double module (equivalent
of two credits).
Minorities and Marginality in Contemporary Japan
This module will examine concepts such as ethnicity, identity, marginality, and
class, with reference to ethnographic material from Japan.
People and Other Animals
Humans and other animals have a long history of interacting with each other. In
this module we use ideas from biological and social anthropology to examine the
complexities and contradictions evident in people-animal relationships through
topics such as animals as food, companion animals and animals as ‘nature’.
Social Anthropology Dissertation (compulsory)(double module)
Each student will chose a subject for study in consultation with members of staff
from social anthropology. The topic chosen must be amenable to research from
within social anthropology. The research undertaken should draw on concepts,
background literature and research methods from the field of social anthropology.
Material Lives: Money, Markets, and Livelihoods in Contemporary Africa
This module introduces important themes in African ethnography, from the colonial
era to the present day, and asks how far general theories of ‘modernisation’
have been able to shed light on African experiences of social and economic transformation.
Anthropology Independent Study
Each student will chose a subject for study in consultation with members of staff
from anthropology. Your chosen topic must relate to anthropological research.
The research undertaken should draw on concepts, background literature and research
methods from anthropology, but is on a smaller scale than the dissertation.
Advanced Topics in Social Anthropology
This module examines a range of recent critical debates and developments in Anthropological
Culture and Care
This module explores various anthropological approaches to the human capacity for
various kinds of care, nurturance, and social support. Students will be expected
to reflect on and apply what they learn to think about themselves, their communities,
and broader contemporary social issues.
Anthropology students can benefit greatly from time spent living in a culture that
is different from their own, and studying abroad is a popular option.
You may be able to go on a European or international study exchange while you are
at Brookes - we have more than 100 partner universities around the world! Most
exchanges take place in the second year.
Studying abroad provides an amazing opportunity to add value to your studies by:
- increasing your employability within an international market
- boosting your language skills
- building your confidence in adapting to new situations
- improving your knowledge of different cultures.
- While on exchange you will gain credits which count towards your degree.
Tuition fees are paid as they would be if you remained in the UK, either to Oxford
Brookes via your Student Loan or directly to Oxford Brookes according to your
You will be responsible for all other costs such as accommodation, purchasing your
airfares, travel and health insurance and visas. Funding is available through
the Erasmus scheme, and also via some international programmes such as the Santander
For more information, visit our pages on studying abroad and exchanges.
Free language courses for students - the Open Module
Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.
Please note that the free language courses are not available if you are:
- studying at a Brookes partner college
- studying on any of our teacher education courses or postgraduate education courses.
We do not expect students to purchase any compulsory course books, as they are all available in the library. If students wish to purchase additional books to supplement their reading this is at their own discretion.
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published
on the website. For more information, please visit our
Changes to programmes