Module Descriptions for Anthropology

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

  • Compulsory Module for Single Honours

    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.

    Recommended Modules for Single Honours

    Introduction to Human Geography
    This module aims to critically examine the following core issues: What is Human Geography or, rather, what are Human Geographies? Can geography help us to understand the complex diversity of human identities and patterns of human activity? How are themes such as space and place, nature and culture involved? Does change in society and culture contribute to shaping the landscape or to creating spatial differences and inequalities? How can Human Geographers' approaches to contemporary problems and issues on the global and local scale offer insight into possible political positioning? The module outlines geographical perspectives on the complex relationships between people and the environments, spaces and places in which they live and work. The module explores key concepts and contemporary approaches in human geography to these relationships expressed in a number of sub-disciplinary topics and themes, alongside developing key skills for human geographers.

    Introduction to Environmental Geography
    This module introduces students to selected themes and environments in environmental and physical geography, using climate change as a context. The module incorporates a disciplinary grounding in climate change science, and then examines other areas that are inherently linked with climate change in environmental and physical geography (including environmental processes and environmental management). For example topics may include some of the following: computer modelling, Earth surface processes, geomorphology, oceanography. The module concludes with an examination of recent and future developments of the discipline.

    Introduction to International Relations 1: Perspectives
    This module provides an introduction to International Relations, with a focus on history, theories and perspectives. As an academic discipline, International Relations has emerged from a particular (cultural and historic) set of perspectives and concerns and this module will aim to introduce you to the defining debates of the discipline in this context via following the different interpretations of selected historical events. But, as a discipline that seeks to inform and is informed by global politics 'in practice' - and all the debates around this (ranging from what counts as important if we seek to better understand our world to what is possible if there are aspects of it we would like to change) - it is also a discipline that is regularly subject to challenges from within the world of academia and without. One such challenge, which will be discussed throughout the module, can be found in the charge that International Relations is a 'Western' discipline that leaves out the experience and history of people outside of the Western world. Focusing on this and other challenges, this module will seek to introduce International Relations or global politics more broadly as a realm of contestation - as a field of competing perspectives and stories about our world and what is possible within it.

    Introduction to International Relations 2: Themes and Issues
    The module examines some of the key themes and issues in contemporary world politics. The module is divided into two parts. Part One introduces the actors, structures and processes of world politics, outlining some of the core themes such as the international system of states and international society, transnational and global society, the global political economy, international organisations, institutions and transnational actors. It further analyses concepts such as anarchy, order, sovereignty, conflict and co-operation among states and non-state actors and contextualises this conceptual material theoretically. Part Two then goes on to examine a number of immediate and chronic issues in world politics to demonstrate a) how they are managed and b) what they tell us about the nature of governance in the international system. These issues include: gender; migration; human rights and humanitarian intervention; energy resources and the environment; and development, inequality and poverty.

    Sustainability and Development
    This module introduces students to the concept of sustainability in its broader concept and in relation to urban development. Discussions about how to deliver sustainable development usually include consideration of three overlapping areas of sustainability: environmental, social and economic. In this module we will examine how arrangements for infrastructure and resource-use affect the sustainability of England's built and natural environment. The emphasis is on the land-use planning system in England as the main mechanism that can help deliver a more 'sustainable environment' but a wider perspective is also offered as a conceptual framework. As land-use planning is concerned with mediating the use of space and creating communities where people can `live, work and relax?, this module has a broad focus and extends beyond the bio-physical components (land, buildings etc.) to include interaction with social issues (such as quality of life and equity) and economic issues (such as how to understand the value the environment brings to a sustainable economy).

    In addition you may choose any available Year 1 modules.


    Anthropology in Action (Alternative Compulsory Single Honours/ Acceptable Combined Honours)
    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 (Alternative Compulsory Single Honours/ Acceptable Combined Honours)
    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 (Alternative Compulsory Single Honours/ Acceptable Combined Honours)
    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 (Double Alternative Compulsory Single Honours/ Double Acceptable Combined Honours)
    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 (Alternative Compulsory Single Honours/ Acceptable Combined Honours)
    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 (Alternative Compulsory Single Honours/ Acceptable Combined Honours)
    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 (Alternative Compulsory Single Honours/ Acceptable Combined Honours)
    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 Osteology (Alternative Compulsory Single Honours/ Acceptable Combined Honours)
    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 lab-based sessions. Special emphasis will be placed on the study of palaeopathology and its use in studying populations within a comparative framework.

    Human Ecology (Alternative Compulsory Single Honours/ Acceptable Combined Honours)
    The module covers 2 main areas in the study of interactions between humans and their biological and social environments past and present: nutrition and disease. The focus throughout the module is to promote an understanding of the principles of human ecology, in particular looking at humans in their ecological and evolutionary context.

    Research Methods in Social Anthropology (Alternative Compulsory Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    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 (Alternative Compulsory Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    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 (Alternative Compulsory Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    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 (Alternative Compulsory Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    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 (Acceptable Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    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.

    Conservation and Heritage Management (Acceptable Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    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 (Acceptable Single Honours only)
    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 (Acceptable Single Honours only)
    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 (Acceptable Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    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 (Acceptable Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    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 (Acceptable Single Honours only)
    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 (Acceptable Single Honours only)
    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.

    Quaternary Environmental Change (Acceptable Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    We are in the grip of global warming: sea levels are rising; glaciers are melting, Arctic sea ice is thinning, meteorological events are becoming more extreme. But how do these changes compare with the environmental changes that have occurred in the past? How can they be put into perspective? What can we learn from the past to help us better understand how natural and human factors may interact to change our climate and environment in the future? Quaternary Environmental Change examines environmental changes that have taken place during the Quaternary: the last 2.6 million years of geological history and time during which humans have evolved and spread across the Earth. The module aims to convey the relevance of palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatic studies to current environmental and climatic concerns. The module examines changes to the physical environment throughout the Quaternary, putting current concerns into perspective; the causes of climatic and environmental change over different timescales and the complex interactions between human impacts and natural processes

    Current Trends in Biological Anthropology (Acceptable Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    This module is designed for delivery of occasional modules offered by visiting lecturers or by Biological Anthropology Staff for trial runs of new modules. 

    Reading Contemporary Ethnography (Alternative Compulsory Single Honours/ Acceptable Combined Honours)
    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 (Alternative Compulsory Single Honours/ Acceptable Combined Honours)
    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 (Alternative Compulsory Single Honours/ Acceptable Combined Honours)
    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 (Alternative Compulsory Single Honours/ Acceptable Combined Honours)
    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 (Alternative Compulsory Single Honours only)
    This module offers students an in depth examination of everyday life in contemporary India through a focus on ethnographic material.  

    Honours Components

    Anthropology Dissertation (Compulsory for Single Honours/ Acceptable for Combined Honours)
    An opportunity for students to explore one topic in order to produce a dissertation demonstrating independent study at an advanced level.

    Minorities and Marginality: Class and Conflict in Japan (Acceptable for Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    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.

    Dawn of Civilisation (Acceptable for Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    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 (Acceptable for Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    Examines a range of recent critical debates and developments in anthropological theory.

    People and Other Animals (Acceptable for Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    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 (Acceptable for Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    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 (Acceptable for Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    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 (Acceptable for Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    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 (Acceptable for Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    Explores anthropological approaches to the human capacity for various kinds of care, nurturance, and social support.

    Primate Conservation (Acceptable for Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    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 (Acceptable for Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    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.

    Palaeopathology (Acceptable for Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    This advanced honours 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 lab-based sessions. Special emphasis will be placed on the study of palaeopathology and its use in studying populations within a comparative framework. Students will be expected to engage in independent research and analysis of both primary material and the methods of the subject.

    Anthropology of Development (Acceptable for Single Honours and Combined Honours)
    This course provides an overview of the changing relationship between the discipline of anthropology and the practice of international development. After a general theoretical and historical introduction to international development, we will critically examine theoretical and methodological debates that have informed the relationship between anthropology and development, and explore key issues that concern anthropologists working in and around international development - including gender relations, environmental issues, health, youth and religion. Throughout the course we will draw comparisons between ideas and practice in 'international' development, and approaches to social policy, inequality and well-being in the UK, in order to trouble the rigid categorical distinctions that are often drawn between 'North' and 'South', 'developed' and 'un(der)developed', or 'advanced' and 'emerging' economies and societies. The lectures will also connect the course material with other modules taken by students including Anthropology Theory, Material Lives: Money and Livelihoods in Contemporary Africa and Advanced Topics as well as linking in with broader development pathways and themes of conservation, environmental and social activism and engaged anthropology.