Module Descriptions for Social Anthropology

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

  • Compulsory

    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

    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.

    Top Up Modules

    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.

    Social Differences and Divisions
    This module is designed to provide students with an introductory knowledge of Sociology and the different ways in which sociological analysis makes sense of the social world. Key concepts and approaches in Sociology will be introduced through a focus on the relationship between individuals, groups and social institutions. Core areas of sociological analysis, including gender relations, class divisions, and 'race' and ethnicity will be considered in light of contemporary sociological debates. Students are encouraged to develop an awareness of the social world through an appreciation of social context, the nature of social processes and of diversity and inequality.

    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. It considers how their work has shaped the discipline of sociology, as well as different sociological traditions. The module also explores a number of contemporary developments, debates and approaches in social theory, and considers their contributions to understanding social relations today.

    In addition you may choose any available Year 1 modules.

    Anthropology in Action (Alternative Compulsory)
    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)
    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)
    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 Module)
    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.

    Fantasy and the Supernatural in Japanese Culture (Acceptable)
    This module examines the supernatural in Japanese popular culture The aim is to use the supernatural as a window into the role of imagination and narrative in the formation of social and historical knowledge. One thread of this module will be the development of Japanese cultural anthropology and its roots in native folklore studies. Another thread will be the ways that the anthropological revival of tales of ghosts and monsters became an important expression of the changes happening during Japanese modernization and internationalization. Continuing this line of thought 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. Students will gain a more nuanced understanding of popular depictions of Japanese culture and learn how to examine myth and folklore from anthropological perspectives.

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

    Research Methods in Social Anthropology (Compulsory)
    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 (Compulsory)
    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.

    Conservation and Heritage Management (Alternative Acceptable)
    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 (Alternative Acceptable)
    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.

    Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Psychology (Alternative Acceptable)
    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 (Alternative Acceptable)
    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 (Alternative Acceptable)
    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 (Alternative Acceptable)
    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 (Compulsory)
    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.

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

    Social Anthropology Dissertation (Compulsory Double Honours Component)
    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 Honours Component)
    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.

    Advanced Topics in Social Anthropology (Acceptable Honours Component)
    Examines a range of recent critical debates and developments in anthropological theory.

    People and Other Animals (Acceptable Honours Component)
    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’

    Anthropology Independent Study (Acceptable Honours Component)
    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 Honours Component)
    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 Honours Component)
    Explores anthropological approaches to the human capacity for various kinds of care, nurturance, and social support.