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Unit information: Well-being and Society in 2014/15

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Unit name Well-being and Society
Unit code ARCH10008
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Alex Bentley
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of Anthropology and Archaeology
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This introductory unit examines key concepts of well-being and livelihoods and provides a grounding in the principle issues of medical and applied anthropology, population and health studies. Topics include health and nutrition, population and the demographic challenge, migration and refugees, well-being, disease and illness, and poverty and Inequality.


  • To introduce students to concepts of well-being and livelihoods: from social and biological perspectives, and at the local and global scale.
  • To equip students with knowledge and understanding of the principal biological and cultural influences upon well-being and livelihood, and to locate these in their broader economic, social, and ecological context.
  • To demonstrate how the traditional anthropological focus on the local community and small-scale society can be applied to the wider national and international picture of well-being.
  • To survey and explain methodologies used in the fields of applied and medical anthropology, demography, and population studies.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of this unit a successful student will be able to:

  1. Describe and explain the biological, ecological, and socio-cultural aspects of well-being, livelihood and society, including nutrition and disease.
  2. Appraise the relationships between population growth, poverty, inequality, and health.
  3. Compare and contrast interdisciplinary approaches to key concepts and indicators of well-being.
  4. Use case studies to relate the traditional anthropological focus on the local community to wider national and international studies of well-being.
  5. Use evidence to debate anthropological studies and development initiatives.

Teaching details

Weekly 2 hr lecture/seminar sessions, to include film screenings and debates

Assessment Details

Exam (75%, two hour, summative). Assesses ILOs 1-5

Workbook of written summaries of 4x seminar activities (25%, 250 words each, summative). Assesses ILOs 1-5

Class test (one hour, summative). Assesses ILOs 1-5

Reading and References

  • McElroy A. and Townsend, P.K. (2009). Medical Anthropology in Ecological Perspective (5th Ed.). Westview Press. *Sachs, Jeffrey D. (2008). Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet Penguin Press.
  • Dettwyler, K. (1994). Dancing Skeletons. Waveland Press.
  • Diamond, J. (2005). Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive. Allen Lane.
  • Ervin, A. M. (2005). Applied anthropology: Tools and perspectives for contemporary practice. Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.
  • Van Willigen, J. (2002). Applied anthropology: an introduction. Greenwood Publishing Group.