Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)


Department: Anthropology


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Human Origins and Diversity (ANTH1071) AND People and Cultures (ANTH1061).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This module introduces students to problems of interest to both biological and social scientists, and requires students to engage with debates and controversies occurring across disciplinary boundaries.
  • To develop skills in identifying the theoretical orientation of anthropological texts.
  • To explain the theory underpinning material taught in other level two modules by showing where social and biological anthropology use different theories, and where the two are integrated.


  • Topics include: The theory of biological anthropology.
  • The theory of social anthropology: Theories of social evolution (from Spencer to Harris), theories of the social system (Marx and Durkheim, the Functionalists), theories of culture and the shaping of behaviour (Boas and his students, French Structuralism), from Structure to Process (Interactionist theories, recent Marx anthropology), Adaptionist theories of social behaviour (Socio-ecology), the translation of culture and the Post-Modernist dilemma.
  • Issues include: 1.
  • History, Nature, and Culture.
  • 2.
  • Race and Ethnicity.
  • 3.
  • Human Genetic Variation: social and biological perspectives.
  • 4.
  • Nature/Nurture & the IQ Debate.
  • 5.
  • Sociobiology.
  • 6.
  • Kinship as Social Adaptation.
  • 7.
  • Social Complexity, Social Intelligence, and Language.
  • 8.
  • Aggression and Conflict..

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Factual material: Students will be aware of the perspectives from which social and biological scientists approach disputed issues of key ideas in theory and of the presuppositions underlying those perspectives.
  • know what sources of evidence have been used to support these perspectives, including evolutionary theory, ethnography, social theory, animal behaviour, genetics, and psychology.
  • be aware of theoretically and empirically based criticisms of particular perspectives.
  • be familiar with the technical vocabularies of social science and biological science as these apply to the study of anthropology.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will be able to investigate issues from an interdisciplinary perspective.
  • be able to understand that theory is always provisional, to be tested, refined or perhaps rejected by later developments.
  • be able to read anthropological and evolutionary texts critically.
  • learn to be able to analyse written texts and ethnographic films to identify the way theory has influenced observation and analysis.
Key Skills:
  • Ability to design and carry out an extensive independent project.
  • Ability to integrate and evaluate a range of information and data from primary and secondary sources, discern and establish connections, extract material points and present a coherent theoretical and practical understanding of them.
  • Ability to conduct a sustained literature search, using a variety of bibliographic tools, including online library and WWW resources with critical reading of texts.
  • Ability to maintain and present a detailed record of research through verbal presentations and writing and through working in small groups.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of 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 as listed above.
  • The module benefits from a balance between lectures, practicals and seminars, geared to the specific needs of the material.
  • The lectures, practicals and seminars are carefully integrated to cover all the intended learning outcomes and key skills listed above.
  • Audio-visual aids (video, sound, slides, powerpoint etc.) are used where appropriate.
  • The informal components of the module utilise a variety of methods, including e-mail conference, seminar presentations and associated oral discussions.
  • Lectures will cover topics relevant for providing students with an understanding of theories currently available for the study of biology, culture and society.
  • 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 biology, culture and society 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.
  • 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 and the ability to write succinctly and analytically at short notice.
  • Formative assessment takes place on a regular basis and may be regarded an integral part of the day-to-day teaching process.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 per week 1 hour 22
Seminars 3 In first term 1 hour 3
Practicals 2 1 in first term, 1 in second term 1 hour 2
Preparation and Reading 173
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Project Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
project work in the Epiphany Term (3500 words max.) 100%

Formative Assessment:

Feedback on project plan in Epiphany 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