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Unit information: Peoples, Culture and Language in 2020/21

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Unit name Peoples, Culture and Language
Unit code ARCH10017
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Morelli
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

Across the world, human societies display remarkable diversity - and remarkable similarities. In this unit students will be introduced to the major theoretical, methodological and empirical ideas in the discipline of social anthropology.


  1. To introduce social anthropology as a discipline and communicate the importance and history of the discipline within anthropology and the human sciences.
  2. To cover major theoretical developments in the history of anthropology to the current day.
  3. To introduce the methodology of social anthropology through the twin tools of fieldwork and ethnology.
  4. To survey a wide range of ethnographic material, including classic texts/films and recent work.
  5. To introduce theory through case studies in classic domains of social life: culture, religion, kinship, politics, economics, as well as more recent or interdisciplinary areas of interest: classsification, social control, personhood, gender, ethnicity, globalism.
  6. To foster both a critical and comparative approach to claims about cultural diversity.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Explain central theoretical issues in modern social anthropology and in the history of the discipline
  2. List key figures and explain their contributions to the history of, and modern, anthropology
  3. Summarise important ethnographic case studies and explain why they are important to the history of anthropology
  4. Explain the connections between ethnographic materials and theoretical positions.
  5. List and explain important cross-cultural similarities and differences in a number of social and cultural domains.
  6. Discuss the relevance of social anthropology for 21st century citizens.
  7. Demonstrate critical thinking, and take a non-ethnocentric and relativist position on cross-cultural differences.

Teaching Information

Weekly lectures and seminars supported by self-directed activities

Assessment Information

Formative assessment: Essay plan (500 words), ILO 1-7

Summative: One 2500 word essay (100%), ILO 1-7

Reading and References

Some useful introductory books:

  • Carrithers, M. 1992. Why Humans Have Cultures: Explaining Anthropology and Social Diversity.
  • Eriksen, T. H. 2010. 3rd Ed. Small Places, Large Issues. Pluto Press: London.
  • Hendry, Joy. 2008 An introduction to social anthropology: Sharing our worlds. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Ingold, T. Ed. 1994. Routledge Companion Encyclopedia of Anthropology
  • Keesing, R & Strathern, A. 1998. Cultural Anthropology: A contemporary Perspective.
  • Monaghan, J & Just, P. 2000. Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short Introduction