Skip to main content

Unit information: Introduction to Social Anthropology in 2013/14

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Introduction to Social Anthropology
Unit code ANTH10001
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Jordan
Open unit status Open




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


Across the world, human societies display remarkable diversity - and remarkable similarities. In this unit students will be introduced to the major theoretical, methodological and empirical ideas in the discipline of social anthropology.


  1. To introduce social anthropology as a discipline and communicate the importance and history of the discipline within anthropology and the human sciences.
  2. To cover major theoretical developments in the history of anthropology to the current day.
  3. To introduce the methodology of social anthropology through the twin tools of fieldwork and ethnology.
  4. To survey a wide range of ethnographic material, including classic texts/films and recent work.
  5. To introduce theory through case studies in classic domains of social life: culture, religion, kinship, politics, economics, as well as more recent or interdisciplinary areas of interest: classsification, social control, personhood, gender, ethnicity, globalism.
  6. To foster both a critical and comparative approach to claims about cultural diversity.

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Describe central theoretical issues in modern social anthropology and in the history of the discipline
  2. List key figures and explain their contributions to the history of, and modern, anthropology
  3. Describe important ethnographic case studies and explain why they are important to the history of anthropology
  4. Describe the connections between ethnographic materials and theoretical positions.
  5. List and explain important cross-cultural similarities and differences in a number of social and cultural domains.
  6. Discuss the relevance of social anthropology for 21st century citizens,

and students practise critical thinking skills for:

  1. a non-ethnocentric and relativist position on cross-cultural differences
  2. bringing an anthropological perspective to their further studies

Teaching details

10x 2-hour lectures 8x 1-hour seminars e-learning: Class blog entries by students

Assessment Details

Summative assessments:

One two hour examination (50%): aimed particularly at learning outcomes 1-5, 7.

One 1500-2000 word essay (40%): aimed particularly at learning outcomes 3-8

One tutorial blog-post assignment (10%): aimed particularly at learning outcomes 5-8

Formative assessments:

Tutorial feedback on non-assessed but compulsory seminar presentations

Reading and References

Some useful introductory books:

  • Carrithers, M. 1992. Why Humans Have Cultures: Explaining Anthropology and Social Diversity.
  • Eriksen, T. H. 2010. 3rd Ed. Small Places, Large Issues. Pluto Press: London.
  • Hendry, Joy. 2008 An introduction to social anthropology: Sharing our worlds. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Ingold, T. Ed. 1994. Routledge Companion Encyclopedia of Anthropology
  • Keesing, R & Strathern, A. 1998. Cultural Anthropology: A contemporary Perspective.
  • Monaghan, J & Just, P. 2000. Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short Introduction