Cookies

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

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

ANTH49215: Advanced Studies in Poison, Pollution, and the Chemical Anthropocene

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

Prerequisites

  • None.

Corequisites

  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.

Aims

  • This module explores social anthropological approaches to the role of poisons and pollution in daily life, environmental transformation, and the Anthropocene.
  • Students will develop a critical understanding of poison and pollution as matters of value, ritual, magic, science, medicine, risk and regulation, and politics.
  • Topics include: the relationship between gifts and poisons, ritual purity and pollution, occult herbalism and contemporary witchcraft, toxic thresholds of dose, body, and nation, hazard and risk, industrial disaster and slow violence, corporate pollution and misinformation, regulatory challenges, toxicology as social and political praxis.
  • A fortnightly film seminar provides students with an opportunity to think about module themes and questions with reference to specific case studies of poison and pollution.

Content

  • Topics include: the relationship between gifts and poisons, ritual purity and pollution, occult herbalism and contemporary witchcraft, toxic thresholds of dose, body, and nation, hazard and risk, industrial disaster and slow violence, corporate pollution and misinformation, regulatory challenges, toxicology as social and political praxis.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the module, students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate advanced levels of current knowledge and intensive understanding in social anthropological theories.
  • Deploy analytical skills specific to social anthropological studies of poison and pollution.
  • Be competent in accessing and assimilating specialised research literature of an advanced nature.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Apply in-depth knowledge of the social anthropology of poison and pollution, with emphasis on interpretation and comprehensive understanding of primary or secondary data.
Key Skills:
  • Preparation and effective communication of key arguments in the social anthropology of poison and pollution in written form.

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

  • Classes will integrate lecture, tutorial and ethnographic film components.
  • Lecture elements will provide students with an outline of key knowledge and debates in the topic area.
  • Tutorial elements will develop topics introduced in lectures and required reading to analyse theoretical debates and ethnographic case studies in greater depth and to prepare students for their summative assignment.
  • Ethnographic film elements will provide further opportunities to explore module themes and questions in relation to specific examples.
  • 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 tutorials and general and particular reading related to the assessment, which will be a written assignment.
  • Summative assessment will consist of a 2,500 word written assignment in which students will apply concepts and perspectives covered in the course to a selected case or cases of poison and pollution in recent history and a critical reading log. 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
Tutorials 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
Assignment 2500 words 80%
Critical reading log 1000 words 20%

Formative Assessment:

500 word plan of the written assignment. 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