Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2005-2006 (archived)


Department: ANTHROPOLOGY (HUMAN SCIENCES) [Queen's Campus, Stockton]


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2005/06 Module Cap None. Location Queen's Campus, Stockton


  • Levels 1 and 2 Human Sciences BA, Levels 1 and 2 Human Sciences BSc, Levels 1 and 2 Health and Human Sciences BSc, Sociocultural Anthropology I (ANTH2051) OR Sociocultural Anthropology II (ANTH2041), Phase I MBBS (Stages 1 + 2).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To understand the social anthropological field of consciousness and altered states of consciousness, and how this field is informed by a multi-disciplinary perspective.
  • To understand issues of mind, mental health, mental illness and drug use from current perspectives in the Social Sciences, and where appropriate the Biological Sciences.
  • To understand issues of mental health, mental illness and drug use both cross-culturally and from within our own society.
  • To understand the cultural, political, economic, biological and pharmacological aspects of drug use, abuse and treatment from a cross-cultural perspective.


  • For returning Erasmus students the module will comprise 11 lectures, 5 classes and 2 special tutorials.
  • The students will be provided with a set of readings to take abroad with them and on-line tutorials will be offered.
  • The readings given to the Erasmus students may include extra items in addition to the readings given to the non-Erasmus students.
  • These readings will include material that is covered in lectures that the students will not be able to attend the Michaelamas term.
  • Students will also be given the full course handout including an extensive reading list.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • (1) Have an appreciation of a social anthropological and social sciences approach to understanding issues of mind, health, illness and altered states of consciousness.
  • (2) Appreciate that there are both psychological and biological components to issues of mind, health, illness and altered states of consciousness, but that these are often mediated by socio-cultural factors.
  • (3) Have knowledge and insight into the main mental disorders, their treatment and social implications in the Western context.
  • (4) Have an appreciation of the biochemical and social factors defining what are 'drugs'.
  • (5) To have knowledge and insight into the main patterns of drug use/abuse, their treatment and their social implications in the Western context.
  • (6) Have an understanding of the biological, psychological and social definitions of tolerance and addiction.
  • (7) Appreciate some of the wider socio-economic, political and legal aspects of drug use.
  • (8) Understand the sacramental and therapeutic use of drugs from a cross-cultural perspective.
Subject-specific Skills:
    Key Skills:

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

      • Themes will be introduced using a range of learning strategies including, lectures, videos, on-line tutorials exercises and seminars based on prescribed reading.
      • Facilitated discussions will encourage them to monitor current affairs in relation to module themes.
      • They will be provided with a set of class readings.
      • Erasmus students abroad will have a choice in relation to the Mental Health and Illness part (1st half: Michaelmas term) of the module of either undertaking an anthropologically-informed case-study of relevant service provision in their host country or of writing an individual essay on a general mental health topic from either a Western of a non-Western social group.
      • Examples from the Western therapeutic tradition might be the diagnosis and treatment of depression or schizophrenia etc.
      • Alternatively, from a non-Western social group, topics such as healing cultures and rituals, shamanic healing etc.
      • can be chosen.
      • Of course, many topics may have a universal focus, for example schizophrenia as an illness or cluster of symptoms is not confined to the West.
      • Likewise there are therapeutic communities in the West as well as healing cults in non-Western societies.
      • The task will be to make a critical study, informed by perspectives from the Social Sciences, and where appropriate from biomedical perspectives, of their chosen mental health topic.
      • Tutorial guidance will be provided during the Michaelmas term by email and telephone contact.

      Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

      Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
      Lectures 11 Approx Weekly 1 hour 11
      Tutorials 2 Beginning and middle of Epiphany Term 1 hour 2
      Seminars 5 Approx Fortnightly 1 hour 5

      Summative Assessment

      Component: Essays Component Weighting: 100%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      essay 1 3000 words 50%
      essay 2 3000 words 50%

      Formative Assessment:

      Each student will, prior to the summative assessment deadline: (a) write an essay plan for the mental health and illness topic, with provisional bibliography - 300 words. (b) write an essay plan on the 'anthropology and drugs' topic, with full bibliography - 300 words.

      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