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Social Anthropology

BA (Hons) - single

Department of Social Sciences

Social anthropology studies humans as social beings, exploring the limits of their variety and seeking to uncover what is common to us all.

We engage with the diversity of cultural possibilities in order to enrich our understanding of what it is to be human. We wish our students to appreciate and respect the customs and beliefs of other societies, in the process learning to hold a powerful mirror up to their own cultural norms.

Through modules such as Fantasy and the Supernatural in Japan, Anthropology of Art, Environmental Anthropology, and Social Anthropology Theory, you will explore the fascinating history and practice of social anthropology, culture, and change.

Our Anthropology courses score highly in the National Student Survey, with 95% of students reporting that they are satisfied with their course.

Find out more about Anthropology at Brookes »

Typical offers

UCAS Tariff points: 112 points

Available start dates

September 2018 / September 2019

Teaching location

Headington Campus

Course length

  • Full time: 3 years
  • Part time: up to 6 years

UCAS code

LL66

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • You'll be at the heart of a thriving academic community - Oxford is a centre for academic debate and thought, with easy access to London
  • Be taught by published, active researchers - your lecturers are acknowledged experts in their fields
  • A truly international environment – students and staff come from from over 40 countries around the world
  • Active student-led Anthropology Society - you'll be able to attend events for anthropology students throughout the year,  both social and academic. In 2016 the Brookes Anthropology Society hosted the national student research conference on behalf of the Royal Anthropological Institute
  • Dedicated support staff - you will be allocated an academic advisor from within the Social Anthropology teaching staff, and your Student Support Coordinator is available year-round
  • Regular seminar series - in addition to your regular lectures, you have the option to attend a range of seminars featuring invited outside speakers. These include the Anthropology departmental seminar series and the Europe Japan Research Centre seminar series.

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.

Compulsory modules:

  • 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.

Study modules

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.

Year 1

Compulsory modules:

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.

Deep 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.

Recommended modules:

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

Compulsory Modules:

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 graduates.

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.

Acceptable modules:

Environmental  Anthropology 

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 age beliefs.

Japan at Play 

A study of Japan made by examining forms of play in that society from an anthropological perspective.

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 legislation.

Global Sociology 

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.

Honours modules:

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 theory.

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.

Study abroad

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 preference.  

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 Student Awards.

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.

Additional costs

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.

Programme changes

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 page.

Teaching and learning

Anthropology at Oxford Brookes has a long established reputation for high quality and innovation in teaching and learning. 

Some of the key teaching methods we use are: 

  • Lectures - designed to introduce students to the main themes, key theoretical approaches and significant research findings relevant to the module content
  • Seminars and workshops - encourage students to engage in discussion with tutors and peers in order to further develop their knowledge and understanding of the module content, apply ideas and develop a range of transferable skills
  • Library training sessions - provided to help students develop learning, research and IT skills. 

Approach to assessment

A variety of methods are used for formative and summative assessment of the learning outcomes of the subject. Assessment methods include: written essays, critical reviews and short reports, annotated bibliographies, reflective journals, written examinations, individual and group presentations, self and peer assessment of work components.

The assessment regime is informed by the Brookes Assessment Compact, and typical modules will provide general, individual and written feedback and other structures for assessment support. This includes, but is not limited to, one-to-one assessment guidance, essay clinics and assessment preparatory classroom based activities (eg exam workshops). 

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2018/19: £9,250

Home/EU - part time fee: 2018/19: £750 per single module

International - full time: 2017/18: £12,890 2018/19: £13,150

*Please note tuition fees for Home/EU students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students.

Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning home and EU students at the maximum permitted level.

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088
finance-fees@brookes.ac.uk

Funding and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see:

Typical offers

UCAS Tariff points: 112 points

A-Level: BBC

Wherever possible we make our conditional offers using the UCAS Tariff. This combination of A-level grades would be just one way of achieving the UCAS Tariff points for this course.

BTEC: DMM

Specific entry requirements

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

Please see the University's standard English language requirements

International and EU applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help students meet the academic and English language entry requirements for their courses and also familiarise them with university life.

Find out more about the international foundation pathways we offer and our pre-sessional English language courses.

Country specific entry requirements

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information and local representatives who can help you to apply, please have a look at our country specific information pages.

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the University's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

How to apply

Full-time students should apply for this course through UCAS.

Part-time students should apply directly to the University.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Credit transfer

Oxford Brookes operates the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). All undergraduate single modules are equivalent to 7.5 ECTS credits and double modules to 15 ECTS credits. More about ECTS credits.

Why Oxford is a great place to study this course

Oxford is one of the UK's top cities for culture and has a worldwide reputation for academic excellence, providing the perfect backdrop for student life. The world famous Pitt Rivers and Natural History Museums are on your doorstep - as is the Ashmolean Museum and Bodleian Libraries, all invaluable resources for anthropologists. London’s many museums are also a short journey away using one of Oxford's many public transport links.

Support for students studying Social Anthropology

In line with the University, the Anthropology programme is committed to providing a supportive environment where respect is shown to all and where all staff and students, regardless of their gender, race, ethnic background, culture, (dis)ability, age, faith or any other factor are encouraged to perform at their full potential. 

There is a range of support available to students. Each student is assigned an academic advisor, whose role it is to offer academic and pastoral guidance throughout the programme of study. The Subject Coordinator is also on hand to help counsel students and monitor their programmes and progression. They provide a programme handbook which contains all the vital information. Further, there are Student Support Coordinators (SSCs) who organise induction meetings and are available to support students throughout their degrees, particularly with planning their programmes. 

In terms of developing their academic skills, students will receive training in study skills in their first year modules and are encouraged to contact module leaders and academic advisors with any problems. Further, the library hosts Upgrade, which offers support with study skills and development. The wider University offers a variety of support services, including medical services and counselling. The University also has a career centre offering guidance on future career choices. 

Finally, students may join their Student Union, which is there to support and represent students. 

Specialist facilities

The department offices are located in the Gibbs Building on the Headington Campus. Teaching for seminars and lectures takes place in the new John Henry Brookes Building and in the Gibbs Building, situated just a mile from Oxford’s beautiful and historic city centre.

The main university library is also on the Headington Campus and holds an impressive selection of books and journals. You can also take advantage of the Library Electronic Information Network (LEIN), giving you access to a range of bibliographical searching tools, databases and electronic journals in anthropology.

Other facilities include:

  • a student collaborative working space that houses a range of course materials
  • the Europe-Japan Research Centre which runs a regular seminar series open to all students
  • the Anthropology Centre for Conservation, the Environment and Development (ACCEND) which holds conferences and seminars open to all students, including the regular Primate Conservation seminar series
  • the Geography and Anthropology laboratory which is used for research and teaching
  • the Japan Room, used to introduce students to aspects of social life in Japan.

General support services

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Personal support services

We want your time at Brookes to be as enjoyable and successful as possible. That's why we provide all the facilities you need to be relaxed, happy and healthy throughout your studies.

Career prospects

Anthropology, with its interdisciplinary and comparative perspective, as well as its emphasis on inter-cultural understanding, gives you flexibility and a wider view of the world which often proves attractive to employers. Our graduates have made successful careers in a wide variety of professions, including government civil service, international aid and international development, non-governmental organisations, charity organisations, environment and conservation organisations, management, human resources, marketing, teaching, lecturing, film and journalism, advertising, museum and heritage management. Students also often go on to post-graduate study.

Visiting speakers from various employment sectors including government, international development, non-governmental organisations and charities, environmental conservation, are invited to deliver lectures and seminars. Researchers from national and international institutions are invited to weekly seminar series hosted by our Faculty Research Centres which include The Anthropology Centre for Conservation, Environment and Development, The Europe Japan Research Centre, The Centre for Global Politics, Economy and Society, and the seminar series hosted by the Primate Conservation MSc course. 

Students also have access to the events hosted by the University Careers and Employment Centre. 

Further study

Many of our graduates are currently engaged in further study in Anthropology and also in a range of other subjects, such as Education, Archaeology, Geography, International Relations, Security and Society, History, and Primate Conservation, with many choosing to continue these studies at Oxford Brookes.