Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)


Department: Anthropology


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Evolutionary Anthropology (ANTH2061) OR Human Ecology, Genetics & Health (ANTH2011) OR Political & Economic Organization (ANTH2051) OR Kinship & Belief Systems (ANTH2041). Human Ecology (HUSS2291)


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To explore the social ecology and evolution of contemporary health problems across the developing and western worlds.


  • Health in the Developing World: The course focuses on understanding the social ecology of key health problems in non-Western communities and what lessons have been learnt from comparative studies of child and adult health and well-being. Topics include early growth retardation, killer diseases of children, intra-household food distribution and responses to food shortages, variation in adult reproductive ability, global and local health inequalities, and evaluation of specific health interventions.
  • Health in the affluent west: This part of the course focuses on the application of ecological and evolutionary perspectives to contemporary health problems, with a focus on the Western world. Topics covered include the emergence of new infections and the threat of pandemic infectious diseases, stress, cardiovascular disease, the rise of obesity, diabetes and allergies.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Factual material: Main theoretical approaches in nutritional and disease ecology.
  • The measures of child growth and adult nutritional status.
  • The range of human biocultural responses to food shortages.
  • Evolutionary and ecological models of human reproduction.
  • Social and ecological perspectives on health interventions.
  • The approaches to disease ecology and evolutionary medicine.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to work in an inter-disciplinary way in the field of nutrition and health.
  • Read specialist literature in international publications within the fields of medical, socio-cultural and biological anthropology.
  • Understanding the theoretical perspectives of the ecological approach within biological anthropology.
  • Debating key issues in human health.
Key Skills:
  • Demonstrate the ability to learn and critique material presented in lectures, but also to conduct independent research moving beyond this material.
  • Demonstrate the ability to respond appropriately to feedback on an essay plan.
  • Write essays at an advanced level. This will involve identifying, evaluating and synthesising information from the primary research literature, and developing and sustaining a structured argument.
  • Complete timed essays, synthesising material from different parts of the course, under timed (examination) conditions.
  • Manage time effectively to work to deadlines.

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 and seminars, geared to the specific needs of the material.
  • The lectures and seminars are carefully integrated.
  • 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 discussion groups, 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 nutritional and disease ecology.
  • 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 nutritional and disease ecology 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.
  • Students are expected to attend lectures.
  • 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 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.
  • Summative assessment is one two hour written examination (70%).
  • One essay, to be written by the first week of Easter Term, of 2000 words (30% total) and Formative assessment is an essay plan in Week 18 and formative feedback on summative essay.
  • 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/Seminars 22 1 per week 1 hour 22
Seminars 4 2 Michaelmas Term; 2 Epiphany Term 1 hour 4
Preparation and Reading 174
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written examination 2 hours 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay to be submitted at the beginning of the Easter Term 2000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Essay plan in Week 18. Feedback on summative essay.

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