Module Descriptions for Anthropology

  • As courses are reviewed regularly the module list you choose from may vary from that shown here.

  • Introduction to Biological Anthropology
    A basic module that examines key issues in understanding humans and other primates within the context of biological evolution. It builds an awareness of evolutionary principles and considers the similarities and contrasts between humans and other primates and their significance for human adaptive success.

    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. We will examine core themes in human evolution and review the archaeological, fossil and palaeoenvironmental evidence for the prehistoric development of human communities. Throughout this module we will explore the interdisciplinary nature of archaeology, investigating the close links between archaeological, geographical and anthropological research.

    Introduction to Social Anthropology
    An introduction to the history and practice of social anthropology as a basis for more advanced study in the field, providing an overview of the key theoretical approaches and concepts created by anthropologists over the last 30 years.

    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 history and religions. Topics covered include the cultural basis of Japanese patterns of behaviour; marriage, family and kinship; work and employment; and popular culture.

    In addition you may choose any available Year 1 modules.

    Anthropology in Action
    Students will be strongly encouraged to extend their knowledge and understanding of anthropological concerns and debates to consider how and when anthropology can make a significant contribution to a variety of different areas. The module will demonstrate to students the wide range of possible future careers open to anthropology graduates.

    Anthropology of Art
    A study of anthropological approaches to art, especially art produced by non-Western small-scale societies. The module investigates the possibility of cross-cultural aesthetics, the anthropology of museums, and the anthropological dimensions of contemporary art worlds globally.

    Anthropology of Ritual
    Ritual is often considered as exotic and as primarily related to religion. However, the anthropological approach requires that ritual be situated 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'.

    European Societies
    The module shows the relevance of an anthropological approach to the study of European societies. It starts with the investigation of classic anthropological concepts at predominantly village or urban neighbourhood level. It then broadens out into wider more contemporary issues such as identity, nationalism, racism, the uses of history and ceremonial, tourism and the EU.

    Personhood, Gender and the Body in Contemporary Japan
    This module introduces anthropological perspectives on personhood, gender and the body and examines these with reference to ethnographic material from Japan.

    Primates Adaptation and Evolution
    Explores the similarities and differences between humans and other primates using a broad comparative approach to examine structure, physiology, molecular biology and evolutionary history. The hallmarks of humanity emerge against a background of detailed knowledge of other species to help trace our history of inheritance and to explore the reasons for our unique specialisations.

    Primate Societies
    There are some 400 species of primates other than humans, and this module explores the diversity of their social behaviour as a background for a better understanding of our own. This module uses a broad comparative approach to identify patterns of communication and social interaction among primates in relation to ecology, energetics, phylogeny, demography and tradition.

    Human Ecology

    Introduces students to the study of human ecology, a core part of Biological Anthropology. Three main areas of human ecology are covered: resources, nutrition and disease.

    Research Methods in Social Anthropology

    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
    The emergence of social and cultural anthropology as a separate discipline is examined by reference to key works of leading contributors to the development of anthropological theory.

    Human Evolutionary Biology and Geography

    Considers the relationship between the various biological stages in human evolution, changes in society and behaviour as interpreted from the material record. Special emphasis will be given to developing an understanding of the role played by the palaeoenvironmental and palaeogeographical context of human evolution and behavioural change.

    Methods and Analysis in Biological Anthropology
    Introduces the methods and analysis used across several fields of biological anthropology. In addition to learning the main concepts of the scientific method and hypothesis testing, students will be introduced to the basic methods of several biological anthropological sub-disciplines including: morphometric analyses (including human diversity, forensics, and skeletal analyses), behavioural observation techniques, population genetics, and evolutionary systematics. Analytical techniques will be introduced in ultimate preparation for the dissertation.

    Becoming Independent Researchers
    Designed to complement U20126 (Methods and Analysis in Biological Anthropology), the aim of this module is to allow students to develop the motivation, skills and discipline needed to become successful independent researchers.

    Geoarchaeology uses analytical techniques, concepts and field methodologies from the earth sciences to understand the archaeological record.

    Conservation and Heritage Management
    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. This module is supported by a choice of field trips.

    Development and Social Change

    Why are some countries rich and others poor? Does development help or hinder growth? This module examines geographical approaches to international development. Typical issues covered include: 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.

    Political Geography: Place and Power
    This module offers an introduction to political geography and geopolitics, critically exploring the connections between place and power. The module will address both historical and ongoing debates on how to understand spatialities and materialities of political power. The module's aim is to facilitate critical interrogation of common assumptions about (geo)politics - highlighting not only the power of geography but also geographies of power. Throughout the module, ideas are explored in light of current events, stressing empirical relevance and real-world application of political geographical thought.

    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

    Provides an opportunity to put gender at the centre of social analysis. An understanding of the social processes that shape women's and men's lives in contemporary societies will be developed by exploring a range of theoretical approaches.

    'Race', Ethnicity and Inequality
    Explores questions of ‘racial’ and ethnic identity and the way in which ethnic origin shapes the experiences of ethnic minorities in the UK in a variety of different spheres including employment, education and the criminal justice system.

    Global Sociology
    Examines the origins, nature and consequences of global social change. The tensions between the global and the local will be examined as they relate to economic, political and cultural processes in contemporary societies. Competing explanations of the impact and significance of global change will be explored.

    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.

    Fantasy and the Supernatural in Japanese Culture
    examines the supernatural (ghosts, monsters, shapeshifters, e.g.) as a window into the role of imagination and narrative in the formation of Japanese folklore studies and anthropology. We follow the story through to present day anime, manga, gaming, and spiritualism.
    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.

    Anthropology of Relatedness
    This module introduces students to the anthropology of relatedness; as well as exploring the broader economic and political forces that shape relationships within households and family networks.

    Anthropology of India
    This module offers students an in depth examination of everyday life in contemporary India through a focus on ethnographic material.  

    Minorities and Marginality: Class and Conflict in Japan
    Examines the historical and contemporary experiences and identities of various minority and marginal groups in Japan. It theorises the reproduction of marginality in society generally and compares ethnographically the experience of marginality in Japanese society with other societies.

    Human Osteology
    This module is designed to provide the student with an understanding of the analysis of human bones from archaeological sites, exploring theoretical and practical issues through a combination of lecture and laboratory-based sessions. Special emphasis will be placed on the study of palaeopathology and its use in studying populations within a comparative framework.

    Dawn of Civilisation
    For 3 million years, early humans were nomadic hunter-gatherers whose prosperity was wholly dependant upon the ebb and flow of the climate. Then, around 10,000 years ago, there was a behavioural revolution that set into motion a series of exponential changes in human technology, subsistence, and organisation. This avalanche of development began in the region known as the Fertile Crescent, which includes the eastern Mediterranean, northern Arabia, and Mesopotamia. This module spans human history from 10,000 until 1,000 BC. We will review archaeological data, geography, the environmental record and mythology from the world’s first civilizations to understand how, where, why, and when they arose.

    Advanced Topics in Social Anthropology
    Examines a range of recent critical debates and developments in anthropological theory.

    People and Other Animals
    Humans and other animals have a long history of interacting with each other. In this module we examine some of the complexities and contradictions evident in people-animal relationships through topics such as animals as food, companion animals and animals as ‘nature’.

    Cognitive Evolution
    Explores the evolution of human intelligence, charting and evaluating the evidence for the development of key cognitive traits such as language, culture, tool use and symbolism. Grounded in the study of the fossil and archaeological records, the module adopts a multidisciplinary approach drawing on evolutionary psychology, cognitive science, philosophy, linguistics and primatology.

    Anthropology Independent Study

    Offers students a flexible opportunity to explore an anthropological topic. Outputs can vary considerably and could include one or more of: an essay, annotated bibliography, ethnographic fieldwork journal, video/film or a long report.

    Material Lives, Money and Livelihoods in Contemporary Africa
    considers what anthropology can tell us about global processes of impoverishment, and discuss the strategies men and women in Africa adopt, as they seek to navigate fragile livelihoods through precarious economies. 

    Culture and Care
    Explores anthropological approaches to the human capacity for various kinds of care, nurturance, and social support.

    Primate Conservation
    In this module, we cover the major challenges facing primates and develop strategies to help conserve our closest relatives. The student will be introduced to the order Primates, with a focus on the most threatened taxa.

    Molecular Anthropology
    This course in molecular anthropology covers basic population genetics, phylogenetics and molecular evolution. Contemporary molecular analysis is used to determine evolutionary links between ancient and modern humans, between contemporary human populations, as well as between humans and other (extinct and extant) primates.

    Anthropology Dissertation
    An opportunity for students to explore one topic in order to produce a dissertation demonstrating independent study at an advanced level.