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


  • People and Cultures (ANTH1061).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This module develops a broad-multi-disciplinary approach to two of the most important features of human sociality: kinship relationships and religion.
  • It adopts a cross-cultural perspective in covering core topics such as economic anthropology, political anthropology, kinship and marriage, and the anthropology of religion and belief systems.
  • It explores major theoretical developments in anthropology from Victorial social evolutionism, to functionalism, structuralism, postmodernism and sociobiology.
  • A comparative approach that complements thematic knowledge gained in other modules.
  • The module provides theoretical and ethnographic knowledge of anthropology to prepare for third-year dissertations, field research, and/or appropriate third-year modules.


  • Content: Kinship and Belief Systems examines the roles played by family organisation, marriage and religious beliefs in the organisation and worldviews of human communities around the world. Topics to be covered include: the evolution of cooperation, incest and exogamy, love and marriage, new reproductive technologies, the role of ritual, witchcraft and the relationship between science and religion in the modern world.
  • The module has a strong cross-cultural comparative emphasis, incorporating ethnographic case studies from regions as diverse as the Caribbean, Latin America, Mediterranean, Middle East, Northern Europe, Pacific, South Asia, South East Asia.
  • The study of specific societal data, institutions, and cultural-historical adaptations will amplify the themes explored in first year anthropology modules and lead further to detailed comparative knowledge and regionally-focused understanding of issues.
  • Synopsis: To ensure a broad intermediate level appreciation of some of the central topics of Anthropology in ethnographic context.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Factual Material: Apply relevant anthropological concepts to specific regional material.
  • Acquire an overview of a wide range of societies, cultural influences, evolutionary and historical processes affecting social behaviour.
  • Gained a knowledge of a selection of ethnographies as analysed using relevant anthropological theory.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Gain an anthropological perspective and understanding of common themes and differences in the roles of kinship and religion in human communities all over the world.
  • Retrieve, sift and select information from a nuanced reading or regional literature.
  • Plan, undertake and report a bibliographically-based regionally focussed assignment.
  • Apply key anthropological theories and concepts to the analysis of our own and other cultures.
Key Skills:
  • Structure and communicate ideas effectively from oral, visual and written sources.
  • Plan work schedules and management of time.
  • Participate constructively in tutorial discussions.
  • Work independently and be self-reliant.
  • Find information by using bibliographical, visual and electronic sources.
  • Assess the relevance and importance of the ideas of others.

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

  • Students are expected to attend the weekly lectures to cover factual material and subject-specific skill and are required to attend a total of four tutorials and four video sessions during the year.
  • This module extends further on level 1 core modules exploring key socio-cultural and evolutionary themes essential to an anthropological education.
  • It relates anthropological ideas to ethnographic research.
  • It introduces comparative studies in anthropology.
  • Teaching is via lectures and tutorials.
  • 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 anthropology because they allow clear transmission of information in an active learning environment where students can question and seek clarification.
  • For anthropology students this medium cannot simply be replaced by texts or websites, though both are important adjuncts.
  • Tutorials.
  • Difficult, sensitive and unresolved issues can all be approached successfully through discussion in tutorial classes.
  • An additional medium for tutorial discussion is asynchronous e-mail through module mail-lists.
  • E-mail discussion brings its own constraints (and gender biases) but it can be a very supportive medium for students who are reticent in front of their colleagues, or who prefer to offer opinions formulated after reflection.
  • Summative assessment is a two-and-a-quarter hour written examination (50%) and two essays each of approximately 2,000 words (50% total), one in each of the first 2 terms, each counting towards summative assessment.
  • Formative feedback on summative essays and tutorial notes to be submitted.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 per week 1 hour 22
Tutorials 5 Distributed 2:2:1 per term some with videos 1 hour 5
Preparation and Reading 173
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
written examination 2 hours 15 minutes 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
essay 1, Michaelmas term 2000 words 50%
essay 2, Epiphany term 2000 words 50%

Formative Assessment:

Formative feedback on summative essays and tutorial notes to be submitted.

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