Coronavirus information and guidance

Why study Social Anthropology?

Social Anthropology is a constantly evolving, well-established discipline that asks the fundamental question of ‘what it is to be human?’. It seeks to answer this by examining the diverse ways in which human beings establish and live social lives.

Today, anthropologists are as likely to study in a Western urban context as they are to work amongst Inuit or on the Amazon. Wherever they undertake research, by being sensitive to different social and cultural contexts, anthropologists seek to gain insights into the different ways of being human.

Anthropologists try to understand how humans live and think by looking at all aspects of their experience. There are specialists in economic, political and cognitive anthropology as well as theorists who are concerned with kinship, art and aesthetics, cosmological notions or ideas of individual consciousness.

St Andrews has a distinctive humanities-based focus and worldwide regional expertise along with four internationally recognised research centres. The Department attaches great value to ethnographic fieldwork as one of the primary methods of deepening our knowledge about the world and its various inhabitants.

The subject matter intersects with a broad range of fields, including philosophy, history, classics, theology, languages, literature, economics, international relations, human geography and psychology. Recognising these exciting interdisciplinary continuities, the Department offers flexibility in which students can combine Social Anthropology with one of these other disciplines. Some of these are available with an integrated year abroad.

For further information about the degree skills and where Social Anthropology graduates go, see the University’s Careers Centre.

To find out more about anthropology, you can come to a University visiting day or attend the London Anthropology Day.

"What is Anthropology?" - a film made by St Andrews students and staff