Our programmes aim to enable students to think anthropologically about the world by helping them develop the following:

  • an understanding of social anthropology as the comparative study of human societies and cultures;
  • an appreciation of the importance of ethnographic fieldwork as the primary method of gathering data and as a basis for the generation of anthropological theory;
  • a detailed knowledge of specific themes in social anthropology and the intellectual debates concerning them, such as gender, religion, kinship, politics, economic life or material culture;
  • a realisation that knowledge is contested; that anthropology by its nature is dynamic, constantly generating new priorities and theories; and that the peoples with whom anthropologists work may have studies of themselves from which we can also learn;
  • an informed awareness of, and sensitivity to, human diversity, an appreciation of its scope and complexity, and recognition of the richness of experience and potential that it provides;
  • self-reflection regarding the role of anthropologists in the collection and presentation of data.

Theoretical and thematic competence

The learners’ achievement of an anthropological outlook has to be grounded in an understanding of the development of the theoretical and thematic scope of the discipline. Our programmes are designed to enable students to achieve the following:

  • an acquaintance with the theory and history of anthropology;
  • an ability to recognise, assess and make use of different theoretical approaches within the discipline, and an awareness of links to cognate bodies of theory, such as philosophy, history, linguistics and feminist theory;
  • a detailed knowledge of anthropological work on particular areas of the world presented as regional courses (such as South America and the Caribbean, Europe, Central Asia, the Pacific and Africa);
  • a familiarity with a range of anthropological methods of representing data, including primary and secondary texts, film and other visual media, and oral sources;
  • an awareness of ethical issues concerned with the study and representation of others;
  • an awareness of the ways in which anthropological knowledge can be applied (and misapplied) in a range of practical situations;
  • an awareness of social and historical change, and knowledge of some paradigms and modes (including indigenous ones) for explaining it;
  • an ability to recognise and analyse contexts in which relations of power, subordination and resistance affect the forms taken by human communities;
  • an appreciation of the interconnections between various aspects of social and cultural life, global and local forces, individual behaviour and the physical environment.

Subject-specific skills

Depending upon the proportion of social anthropology within their degree programme, students will be able to demonstrate the following:

  • an ability to understand how human beings interact with their social, cultural and physical environments, and an appreciation of their social and cultural diversity;
  • an ability to engage with cultures, populations and groups different from their own, without forgoing a sense of personal judgement. An awareness of cultural assumptions, including their own, and the ways in which these impact on an interpretation of others;
  • a recognition of the politics of language, indirect forms of communication, forms of power, theoretical statements and claims of authority, and an ability to analyse them;
  • an ability to apply anthropological knowledge to a variety of practical situations, personal and professional;
  • an ability to plan, undertake and present scholarly work that demonstrates an understanding of anthropological aims, methods and theoretical considerations.
  • an ability to understand their strengths and weaknesses in learning and study skills and to take action to improve their capacity to learn;
  • a capacity to express their own ideas in writing and in oral presentations, to summarise the arguments of others, and to distinguish between the two;
  • independence of thought and analytical, critical and synoptic skills;
  • information retrieval skills in relation to primary and secondary source of information;
  • scholarly skills, such as the ability to make a structured argument, reference the works of others, and assess evidence;
  • time planning and management skills;
  • the ability to engage, where appropriate, in constructive discussion in group situations and group-work skills;