Introduction to Social Anthropology - SE301

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 2)
Autumn and Spring 4 30 (15) PROF D Theodossopoulos checkmark-circle


Social Anthropology is a discipline which arose with other social sciences in the mid- to late-nineteenth century, social and cultural anthropology has made a speciality of studying 'other' peoples worlds and ways of life. With increasing frequency, however, anthropologists have turned towards 'home', using insights gained from studying other cultures to illuminate aspects of their own society. By studying people's lives both at 'home' and 'abroad', social and cultural anthropology attempt to both explain what may at first appear bizarre and alien about other peoples' ways of living whilst also questioning what goes without saying about our own society and beliefs. Or, to put it another way, social and cultural anthropology attempt, among other things, to challenge our ideas about what we take to be natural about 'human nature' and more generally force us to take a fresh look at what we take for granted.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Total contact hours 34


BA: Social Anthropology and BSc: Anthropology; Joint Honours; with a Language; with a Year Abroad; with a Year in Professional Practice

Method of assessment

50% written examination, 50% coursework
Essay 1 (25%)
Essay 2 (25%)

Indicative reading

*Barfield, T. (ed.) Dictionary of Anthropology (Blackwell, 1997)
*Barnard, A. & J. Spencer (eds) Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology (Routledge,1996)
*Delaney, C. Investigating Culture: An Experiential Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (Blackwell, 2004)
*Evans-Pritchard, E.E. Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic among the Azande (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1976).
*Barnard, A. History and theory in anthropology. (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000).
*Barrett, S.R. Anthropology: a student’s guide to theory and method. (Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1996).
*Moore, J.D. Visions of culture: An introduction to anthropological theories and theorists. (Walnut Creek: Altamira Press, 1997).
*MacClancy, J. (ed.) Exotic No More: Anthropology on the Front Lines (Uni. of Chicago Press, 2002)
*Monaghan J. and Just, P. Social and Cultural Anthropology: A very Short Introduction *(Oxford,2000)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Drawing on studies of different cultures and societies, from the rainforests of west Africa to the industrial heartlands of Britain and America, this course will introduce students to the discipline of social and cultural anthropology through a selection of topics which have been chosen to give students a taste of the kind of issues that social and cultural anthropologists study and the kind of arguments and theories they have developed. The course is not, however, intended as a comprehensive introduction to the discipline, and does not by any means cover all of the issues, debates and sub-fields within social and cultural anthropology. Rather, by choosing a select number of topics, it is aimed at giving students a sense of what social and cultural anthropology is about, and what makes it different from other social sciences . In so doing it will give students a grounding in a discipline which they may want to continue to study in their second and final years.


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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