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Unit information: Africa in 2021/22

Unit name Africa
Unit code ARCH20051
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Carrier
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Anthropology and Archaeology
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

Africa has been and continues to be a critical site of disciplinary development for anthropology. Classic research there has left a strong mark on the ethnographic method and anthropological theory, and the region continues to inspire cutting-edge research on themes of much wider relevance, including migration, language, identity, development, urbanisation and globalisation. This unit proceeds by studying themes of contemporary salience while also highlighting the legacy of earlier anthropology. What anthropology can draw from this often problematic legacy will be of major concern to the unit, as will the possible futures for the discipline in a region so important for its past and present form.

Unit aims

This unit will:

(1) Provide a critical overview of the anthropology of Africa and its historical contours and relationship with colonialism

(2) Offer insight into contemporary African societies and the challenges they face, while also considering such societies in a longer time-frame with archaeological and historical perspectives

(3) Introduce key themes in the anthropology of Africa

(4) Introduce key ethnographic work related to the region and demonstrate its importance for the discipline more broadly

(5) Ask how the anthropology of the region (and the discipline in general) might be ‘decolonised’

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the unit, a successful student will be able to:

(1) Critically assess the importance of Africa for the discipline of anthropology

(2) Demonstrate extensive knowledge of key themes in the anthropology of the region

(3) Link these regionally-specific themes to wider anthropological theories and approaches

(4) Evaluate academic writing focused on the region and beyond

(5) Demonstrate a critical understanding of how Africa has been represented, and the need to challenge common portrayals of the continent and its people

Teaching Information

Weekly lectures, group activities, essay workshops and discussion, and additional film screenings.

Assessment Information

1 x 1000 word blog post (summative: 30%). Tests ILOs 1, 4 and 5.

1 x 3000 word essay (summative: 70%). Tests ILOs 1, 2, 3 and 4.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. ARCH20051).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.