Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2009-2010 (archived)


Department: Anthropology


Type Tied Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2009/10 Module Cap None. Location Durham
Tied to L602
Tied to LF64
Tied to LL36


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide greater knowledge and understanding of kinship than is provided in the two core first year modules.
  • To provide an integrated introduction to social and biological aspects of kinship.


  • The domestic group as a unit of production, consumption and orientation.
  • Kinship and the social structure of human communities.
  • Genealogies and pedigrees.
  • Bilateral kinship and social networks.
  • Lineages and corporate groups, matrilineal and patrilineal descent.
  • Extensionist and structural theories of kinship.
  • Marriage alliances and the problem of incest avoidance.
  • Biological kinship: aspects of human genetics, mating and the transmission of genetic disorders.
  • Kinship and human social adaptation (the socio-ecological perspective).

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Factual Material: Understand the unique importance of social kinship in human societies, and why the domestic unit is fundamental to human social and biological reproduction.
  • Familiarity with a range of representative ethnographic cases (present and past, Western and non-Western).
  • Aware of a range of theories concerning incest avoidance and marriage rules, and why it is important to distinguish between socially recognised kinship and biological relatedness.
  • Understand how to relate their personal experience of kinship to the broader field of anthropological knowledge.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject-Specific Skills: Be able to construct and study elementary genealogies.
  • Take notes during lectures and videos, and synthesise these with background reading and practical exercises in the construction of project reports and written examinations.
  • Have an understanding of kin terms and incest prohibitions, and the observation of behaviour between kin and toward potential marriage partners.
Key Skills:
  • Key Skills: Gather data, record them fully and accurately, and use them in a sound, balanced analysis, in written reports.
  • Recognise issues of debate and address them through case studies.
  • Apply IT research techniques successfully to specific/defined problems.

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

  • The module consists of 16 lectures, 3 practicals and 2 videos sessions, accompanied by background reading.
  • Four video tapes will be shown during the module.
  • The formal components of the module use a range of teaching modes and methods, within an integrated framework to contribute to the intended learning outcomes.
  • The module benefits from a balance between lectures and practicals, geared to the specific needs of the material.
  • The lectures and practicals are carefully integrated.
  • Audio-visual aids (videos, slides, summaries and diagrams on overhead projection sheets etc.) are used where appropriate.
  • The informal components of the module utilise a variety of methods, including posting course documents and information on DUO, seminar presentations and associated oral discussions.
  • Lectures will cover topics relevant for providing student with an understanding of theories currently available for the study of families in the social order.
  • Lectures provide a traditional method of communicating not only fact but clear understandings of process and the relationship between issues.
  • They are used for the primary delivery of material in the study of families in the social order because they allow clear transmission of information in an active learning environment where students can question and seek clarification.
  • Lectures introduce students to issues, structure the subject matter and provide a grounding in principal issues so they can progress to further learning and study.
  • Lectures provide the framework for analysis and relevant background, theoretical and/or historical information, and are used to assist in the assimilation of technically demanding or conceptually difficult material.
  • Seminars provide an opportunity for students to discuss a series of topics and to make oral presentations.
  • Difficult, sensitive and unresolved issues can all be approached successfully through discussion in seminars.
  • Seminars will cover topics relevant to the content of the module.
  • Seminars imply a higher degree of student involvement and teach subject-specific and generic skills.
  • For anthropology students this medium cannot simply be replaced by texts or websites, though both are important adjuncts.
  • Summative essays test skills of understanding, analysis, information collection and presentation, while final written examinations test assimilated knowledge and understanding an the ability to write succinctly and analytically at short notice.
  • 2 project reports of 1500-2000 words.
  • 2 hour unseen examination.
  • Formative assessment takes place on a regular basis and may be regarded an integral part of the day-to-day teaching process.
  • Using guidelines issued in advance, students play the role of anthropologist by interpreting what they can gather from the audio-visual materials.
  • Four practical classes for formative assessment, as follows: i) interpret household census data.
  • ii) examine marriage alliances in a small-scale society.
  • In addition, students will be required to submit notes after each practical, which will be returned to students with feedback comments.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 18 Spread over three terms 1 hour 18
Practicals 4 2 hours 8
Videos 2 2 hours 4
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Projects Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
project 1 1500-2000 words 50%
project 2 1500-2000 words 50%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
two-hour unseen examination 100%

Formative Assessment:

Feedback on notes taken in practicals and videos.

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