Animals, People and Plants: An introduction to Ethnobiology - SE306

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2020 to 2021.


This module introduces students to a wide-ranging view of the relationships among people, other animals and plants. The module will provide social, political and cultural perspectives on these relationships and will introduce students to some of the technical aspects of ethnobiology. The module emphasises the importance of culture in mediating the use of plants and animals among humans, and explores the role of wild and domestic plants and animals in human evolution, including the way human societies have manipulated and altered the landscape. Contemporary problems in conservation, development and human and animals rights are also explored.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours



This module contributes to:
BSc Human Ecology
BSc Anthropology
BSc Wildlife Conservation
BA Environmental Social Sciences
BA Social Anthropology

Method of assessment

100% Coursework
Analytic Note (20%)
Annotated Bibliography (20%)
Oral Presentation (20%)
Final Essay (40%).

Indicative reading

Anderson, E., Pearsall, D., and E. Hunn, eds. 2011. Ethnobiology. New York: Wiley.
Anderson, D.G. & M. Nuttall (eds) 2004. Cultivating Arctic Landscapes: Knowing and Managing Animals in The Circumpolar North. Oxford: Berghahn.
Balick, M. J. and Cox, P. A., 1996. Plants, People and Culture: The Science of Ethnobotany. New York: Scientific American Library.
Bekoff, M. 2007. The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy - and Why They Matter. Novato, California: New World Library.
Benton, T. 1993. Natural Relations: Ecology, Animal Rights and Social Justice. London: Verso.
Cassidy, R. & M.H. Mullin (eds) 2007. Where the Wild Things are Now: Domestication Reconsidered. Wenner-Gren International Symposia. Oxford: Berg

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module students should be able to understand:
8.1 Synthesise the wide-ranging relationships between humans, other animals and plants.
8.2 Understand how plants and other animals have affected human history and have contributed to the structure of contemporary societies around the world.
8.3 Appreciate aspects of utilitarian, welfare and rights-based perspectives, among others, that affect our contemporary relationships with plants and other animals.
8.4 Understand symbolic, mythological and religious perspectives of animals and plants.
8.5 Understand the development of legal, political and social institutions that manage plants and animals
8.6 Understand the basic theories of how plants and animals are named, identified and classified by different peoples, including scientists.


  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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