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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

ANTH47030: Understanding Society and Culture

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


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To explore the history and some of the recent developments in the theory of socio-cultural anthropology
  • To enable students to assay critically theoretical debates in socio-cultural anthropology and to engage with them in their research
  • To enable students to understand how anthropological fieldwork is influenced by the researcher's theoretical orientation


  • Selected issues in the theory of socio-cultural anthropology

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Broad knowledge of selected issues in the theory of socio-cultural anthropology
  • Broad knowledge of the history of socio-cultural anthropology
  • An understanding of how anthropological fieldwork is influenced by the researcher's theoretical orientation
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To develop ability to formulate theoretically informed research aims
  • To develop ability to present an effective argument (both orally and in writing) that demonstrates an awareness of the complexity of selected theoretical issues
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 their 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

  • 9 lectures: to introduce and provide an overview of each topic and associated literature. • 9 seminars: student-led discussions, facilitated by the tutor, based on weekly readings on anthropological theory.
  • Summative assessment: 5000-word critical review of history/debates within anthropological theory and its relationship with fieldwork.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 9 Either 4-5 per term or (intensive version) weekly over one term 2 hours 18
Lectures 9 Either 4-5 per term or (intensive version) weekly over one term 2 hour 9
Preparation and Reading 273
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework10 Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Critical review essay 5000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

1000 word written piece, outlining the key argument of the summative essay with indicative bibliography.

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