Thinkers and Theories in Anthropology - ANTS3070

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 4 15 (7.5) Sarah Johns checkmark-circle


This module explores the emergence of Anthropology as a discipline. It introduces students to the major figures, theories and approaches that have shaped Anthropology, both Sociocultural and Biological. It presents an historical outline of the major schools of thought and discusses the connections between social, cultural, and biological anthropology. It focuses on major figures who have contributed to, and shaped the discipline, and on their theoretical legacies. Students will be asked to think clearly and critically about the development of the discipline (with particular regard to colonialism and racism), and how Anthropological ideas have been applied and misapplied.


Contact hours

Total contact hours 27 (Lecture Hours: 22, Field Trip: 5)
Private study hours 123
Total study hours 150


Compulsory to : BSc Anthropology (and cognate year abroad / professional practice programmes)

Method of assessment

MCQ via Moodle assessment 60 mins 20%
Essay 2,500 words 80%

Reassessment methods
100% coursework (Essay)

Indicative reading

Alcock, J. 2001. The Triumph of Sociobiology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Barnard, A. and Spencer, J. (eds). 1996. Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology.
London: Routledge.
Barnard, A. 2000 History and Theory in Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bowler, P.J. 2009. Evolution: The History of an Idea. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Darwin, C. 1859. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. London.
Dawkins, R. 2016 (1976). The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dennell, R.W. 2001. From Sangiran to Olduvai, 1937-1960: the quest for "centres" of hominid
origins in Asia and Africa. In: Corbey, R. and Roebroeks, W., (Eds.) Studying Human Origins: Disciplinary History and Epistemology. Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam. pp. 45-
Desmond, A. and Moore, J. 1994. Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist. W.W. Norton &
Kuper, A. 1996. Anthropology and Anthropologists: The Modern British School. London: Routledge.
Laland, K.N., Brown, G., 2011. Sense and Nonsense: Evolutionary Perspectives on Human
Behaviour. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Malinowski, B. 2005 (1922). Argonauts of the Western Pacific: An Account of Native Enterprise and
Adventure in the Archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea. London.
Martinón-Torres, M., & Killick, D. (2015). Archaeological theories and archaeological sciences.
Moore, J.D. 1997. Visions of Culture: An Introduction to Anthropological Theories and Theorists.
Walnut Creek: Altimira Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
8.1 Demonstrate a broad knowledge of the major thinkers who have influenced the history and development of anthropology as a discipline
8.2 Demonstrate a broad knowledge of the major schools of thought within anthropology
8.3 Demonstrate an understanding of the historical development of, and changes within, anthropology
8.4 Demonstrate an understanding of the historical relationship between sociocultural and biological anthropology


  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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