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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

ANTH47715: Advanced Studies in Capitalism in Ruins

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Not available in 2021/22


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To develop an understanding of contemporary forms of capitalism through a variety of different topical perspectives, including the guiding themes of ruins and ruinification.
  • To explore diverse, but related bodies of literature in order to establish a critical analysis of current political and economic processes.


  • Contemporary approaches to capitalism, neoliberalism and contemporary political economies
  • Theories of affect, emotions and the body.
  • Theories of space, materiality and ruinification.
  • Theories of time, the future and temporal politics.
  • Contemporary topics in urban anthropology.
  • Contemporary topics in the anthropology of the postindustrial era.
  • Theories of energy, climate change and the Anthropocene.
  • Theories of power, agency and activism.
  • Contemporary topics in environmental and political anthropology.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the module, students will be able to:
  • analyse capitalism in the postindustrial era by combining diverse theoretical, analytic and topical approaches.
  • demonstrate advanced levels of current knowledge and intensive understanding of several different topical bodies of literature, in social anthropology and other social sciences.
  • deploy analytical skills specific to the study of contemporary social, political and economic phenomena, with an emphasis on spatio-temporal, material, post-human and affective theoretical approaches.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Applying key skills (see below) to core concepts and debates pertaining to current debates surrounding contemporary capitalism.
Key Skills:
  • Preparation and effective communication of research methods, data, interpretation and arguments in written and oral form.
  • Critical analysis of primary and secondary data
  • Self-reflection on knowledge and skills acquired and developed
  • Accessing library resources
  • Undertaking independent study and research
  • Preparation and effective communication of interpretations and arguments in written form
  • Analysis and interpretation of visual material

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

  • Lecture elements will provide students with an outline of key knowledge and debates in the topic area, discuss the literature that students should explore, and provide relevant examples and cases studies.
  • Seminar elements will develop topics introduced in lectures and required reading to analyse aspects or case studies in greater depth and to prepare students for their summative assignment. These also include student presentations on extra seminar reading.
  • Interactive components will provide students with opportunities to develop and communicate their own thoughts and ideas.
  • Advanced discussion classes will allow students to develop their skills of critical thinking and evaluation, as well as how to synthesise and interrogate material at a level commensurate with postgraduate attainment.
  • Student preparation and reading time will allow engagement with specific references in advance of the classes and the written assignments.
  • The critical reading log is an annotated bibliography in which the evidence and arguments presented in readings selected by the student and relevant to the development of their summative assessment are evaluated and critiqued. This along with the other summative component should show evidence of a higher level of engagement expected at postgraduate level.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 Weekly 1 hour 10
Seminars 5 Fortnightly 1 hour 5
Advanced discussion class 1 1 hour 1
Preparation and Reading 134
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2500 words 80%
Critical reading log 1000 words 20%

Formative Assessment:

‘In-class’ presentation and participation, pre-seminar comments and an essay abstract (250 words). Reading log sample.

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