Critical Perspectives on Human Society - ANTS5960

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module aims to develop your theoretical imagination by making you familiar with the central debates that have shaped anthropological theory from the early twentieth century to our contemporary debates. It aims to teach you to understand theoretical issues and apply them with a critical and informed sense of the role of difference in the human experience. The module is not a 'history of theory' survey; rather, it will lead you through the complex interrelations and cross references that have shaped anthropological theory over the past century. The module is organised around the theme of human society, which will be used as a lens through which to view theoretical discussions within social anthropology as well as its appropriations from other disciplines.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22
Private study hours:128
Total study hours: 150


This module is optional to the following course:
• BSc Anthropology (including cognate courses)

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:
Analytical essay 50%
Examination (2 hours) 50%

Reassessment method: 100% Coursework.

*Exams will be online*

Indicative reading

The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages (

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module you will be able to:
1. Discuss the main theoretical schools that have affected social anthropology in the course of the twentieth century.
2. Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the relationship between social anthropology and the disciplines from which it draws its theoretical sources, including sociology, philosophy, political economy, and psychoanalytic theory.
3. Understand the ways in which social anthropologists have approached the theoretical ideas in relationship to their ethnographic writings
4. Analyse critically theoretical positions concerning the nature of human society and locate them in the appropriate intellectual schools of thought from which they originate.
5. Construct coherent and logical arguments, particularly in written form, which combine theoretical writings with the discussion of ethnographic data.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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