What is the course about?
The course offers a general introduction to social anthropology, focusing on the social and cultural dimensions of human life and behaviour, exploring this from a cross-cultural perspective. Specifically, the course introduces students to the key principles of anthropology, the methods that anthropologists use to investigate culture and society, as well as some of the key ideas and theories that anthropologists have applied whilst seeking to understand the role that society and culture play in shaping how we think, act and understand our world. To this end, the course also introduces you to some key debates in anthropology, including: is there such a thing a human nature? Is our behaviour a product of nature or culture? Can we study culture and society objectively and in an ethical manner? Should anthropologists make moral judgements about other people’s beliefs and customs?
What will we cover?
The course will explore the following three topics in detail:
- Key Principles of Anthropology: Culture, Society and Cultural Relativism
- Anthropological Methods, Objectivity and Ethics
- Theorising Culture, Society and Human Nature.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
.- Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of how contemporary anthropologists investigate culture and
- Evaluate key anthropological ideas and approaches
- Apply a critical awareness to some of the problematic assumptions people often hold in relation to cultures
different from their own, and demonstrate an understanding of the value of ways of life other than your own as well as
an awareness of the importance of cross-cultural communication.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is a course for beginners with no experience or prior knowledge of anthropology. Your enjoyment and benefit from this course will be enhanced if you approach this course with an open and critical mind as well as an enthusiasm for learning. On joining the class you should be able to read and comment upon articles and extracts from anthropological texts and journals. You should also be prepared to discuss this reading in class. The topics covered will address some complex theories regarding human culture and society, and students should expect to discuss these ideas critically. As anthropology also seeks to facilitate a better understanding of cultural difference, you should also be willing to re-evaluate some of your own assumptions about what is meant by ‘human nature’, as well as your assumptions regarding the beliefs and value systems of varied human cultures, including your own.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The sessions will include lectures as well as ample time for discussion and the exchange of ideas. Videos and articles by leading anthropologists will be used to illustrate the themes. You should be prepared to try and read one recommended article each week outside of the class, and be prepared to contribute to small and large-group.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
No additional costs. Please bring pen and paper (or electronic equivalent).
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
HA021 Anthropology and human identity.
General information and advice on courses at Build is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details