Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)

Module ANTH40030: Key Issues in Sociocultural Theory

Department: Anthropology

ANTH40030: Key Issues in Sociocultural Theory

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2007/08


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To develop the student's knowledge of how the main sub-fields of sociocultural anthropology have developed throughout the history of the discipline.
  • To develop the student's ability to comment critically on theories and perspectives within sociocultural anthropology.
  • To develop the student's awareness of current issues and challenges within the main sub-field of sociocultural anthropology.


  • Major theoretical perspectives, movements and authors within sociocultural anthropology are covered. Developments within the discipline are placed in historical and social as well as intellectural contexts. Students are encouraged to reflect upon the meanings and applicability of such terms as 'culture', 'society', 'system', 'function', 'theory', and 'field'. The introductory seminars of the module provide overviews of continuities and transformations in the methodologies, aims and roles of sociocultural anthropology. The main part of the module is then following sub-fields: economics, kinship, language, politics and religion. Connections and contraditctions between classic texts and more recent works are debated. The module is completed with a consideration of dilemmas and opportunities facing contemporary researchers. Theoretical perspectives to be covered include functionalism, structural functionalism, structuralism, Marxism, post-modernism, and social versus cultural anthropology. While the development of the discipline discusses the alternative perspectives provided by sociocultural anthropologists working in other institutional contexts.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
    Subject-specific Skills:
    Key Skills:

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

      • Through a systematic course of directed reading, covering the main themes and major figures.
      • Through seminars providing critical overviews of key sub-fields.
      • Through the provision of regular opportunities to summarise and debate key issues and themes in the context of seminars.

      Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

      Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
      Seminars 22 Weekly 2 hours 44
      Preparation and Reading 256
      Total 300

      Summative Assessment

      Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      Essay 5000 words 100%

      Formative Assessment:

      Essay plan (1000 words), end of first term

      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