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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Anthropology

ANTH46830: Thinking Anthropologically

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2021/22


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To develop students' awareness of current issues and challenges within the main sub-field of sociocultural anthropology.
  • To develop students' ability to apply theories and concepts from social anthropology to a range of contemporary issues.
  • To encourage students to think critically and carefully about relationships between theory and ethnography.


  • Major topics of current anthropological concern are covered, within the relevant areas of the discipline (e.g. health, political, economic, kinship, religion, energy, environment). Precise topics will vary from year to year but may include: kinship and relationality; gifts and commodities; magic, science, and rationality; forced migration; biotechnology and bioethics; carbon and post-carbon economies; chemicals and bodies, etc.
  • Students will learn about current concepts and debates in relation to these topics and will apply relevant theoretical perspectives.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Develop knowledge of current areas of work and debate at the cutting edge of research in socio-cultural anthropology.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Develop ability to comment critically on those debates, bringing in relevant theory and ethnographic insights.
  • Develop ability to present an effective argument (both orally and in writing) that demonstrates an awareness of the complexity of selected theoretical issues in relation to current debates.
Key Skills:
  • Communication: students will be taught how to communicate clearly (both orally and in writing) their understanding of the material they have read.
  • Improving own learning and performance: students will learn to use a variety of web tools for searching the primary and secondary literature.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures: to introduce each topic and scaffold students' independent reading.
  • Seminars: to provide opportunities for students to discuss and present readings and associated theories in depth, facilitated by the tutor.
  • Assessment: two summative 2,500-word essays applying anthropological theories and perspectives to one or more key contemporary topics.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 9 4 in Michaelmas Term, 5 in Epiphany Term 2 hours 18
Lectures 9 4 in Michaelmas Term, 5 in Epiphany Term 1 hour 9
Preparation and Reading 273
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 2500 words 50%
Essay 2 2500 words 50%

Formative Assessment:

Two formative 500 word pieces of writing setting out the core of the summative essays.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University