Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)


Department: Anthropology


Type Tied Level 3 Credits 40 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None. Location Durham
Tied to L602


  • Only available to Anthropology Single Honours students (all Level 2 modules).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • The 20 credit dissertation is required of all single honours students, but they can substitute for it the 40 credit dissertation, therefore the 20 credit dissertation cannot be taken alongside the 40 credit dissertation.


  • To encourage students to acquire skills of independent research and project management by pursuing a substantial research project.
  • Allow students to undertake a substantial piece of supervised written work featuring research into an anthropological topic of their choice.
  • Develop students' abilities to plan and manage their own learning.
  • Facilitate students' development of research skills and provide the opportunity to apply their knowledge to a topic in anthropology.
  • Design and carry out substantial independent analysis of data, which may be based on fieldwork, lab work, or be library based.
  • Exercise the inter-personal and time management skills required for research in anthropology.
  • Frame and complete a substantial piece of writing.


  • The dissertation can be viewed as the culmination of the study of Anthropology, where the ideas and methods learned in the classroom are put into practice.
  • The dissertation provides students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge to a topic in anthropology.
  • The topics of the dissertation is the one part of the curriculum that is entirely selected by the student, with data they collect.
  • In choosing a topic, an essential consideration is their personal interest in the subject area within which it falls.
  • The double module dissertation allows students to undertake a substantial piece of supervised written work featuring research into an anthropological topic of their choice.
  • It develops students' abilities to plan and manage their own learning and facilitates students' development of research skills.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Demonstrate the ability to explore a topic of their own choosing in depth by means of independent research.
  • To apply their growing critical judgement and powers of anthropological analysis.
  • Use skills in project management, critical discrimination and a sense of proportion in evaluating data and anthropological evidence for a substantial project.
  • Cultivate a mastery of the empirical and theoretical literature bearing on their chosen project.
  • Develop a critical awareness of the epistemological basis of their chosen research methods.
  • Develop a critical awareness of the strengths and shortcomings of their methods of analysis.
  • Have a thorough understanding of their research findings.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Develop the ability to pursue independent research.
  • Ability to formulate a suitable research question and be able to identify appropriate methods for addressing the question.
  • Selection and application of appropriate research methods.
  • Selection of appropriate explanatory theories and their application to data.
  • Practise either the ethnographic description of social organisation and the translation of culture, or the scientific description of biological phenomena, as applied to original data.
  • Practise the representation in figures, diagrams and tables or original data (where relevant).
Key Skills:
  • Organise and budget their time to pursue a large-scale independent research project.
  • Organise and write an extended piece of research work of their own devising, thus communicating complex data and arguments effectively.
  • Appropriate application of information technology and bibliographic search to create and/or present data and analysis.
  • Ability to communicate scholarly work to non-specialists and summarise their work in writing, in the form of an Abstract.
  • Apply problem-solving skills in a supervised research situation and to a pre-set schedule.
  • Develop written communication skills by completing draft chapters and the final dissertation for summative assessment.
  • Practice communication skills by discussing progress with the Supervisor and making best use of the consultation meetings by using email and supervisory face to face meetings to communicate with the Supervisor.
  • Learning, planning, organisation and time management by planning work to meet a set of pre-determined deadlines and preparing for meetings with the Supervisor and observing strict deadlines and schedules.
  • Applying problem solving skills by identifying relevant issues and utilising necessary analytical skills and anthropological concepts.
  • Showing initiative by exploring a range of data sources including fieldwork and data search, IT and bibliographical resourcing, and establishing the relevance of this data for the dissertation topic.
  • Demonstrating adaptability through learning to analyse data and/or undertake field research outside the narrow limits of the classroom modules.
  • Practising numeracy (depending on dissertation topic) by analysing appropriate numerical data or conveying information via statistical means.
  • Developing computer literacy as all dissertations must be word-processed.

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

  • A dissertation is an extended piece of written work on an anthropological topic selected by the student, the work carried out under the supervision of a staff member.
  • The dissertation assesses knowledge and understanding of theoretical perspectives, formulation of questions and research ability, capacity for critical and independent thought reflecting subject-specific knowledge, ability to construct a sustained argument and use other key skills.
  • Students are therefore expected to display critical discrimination and a sense of proportion in evaluation of evidence and the opinions of others.
  • The compulsory dissertation provides necessary depth and adds very positively to students' grasp and appreciation of the discipline.
  • It also provides excellent opportunities for individual fieldwork, research and personal development.
  • The dissertation is submitted by advertised deadline.
  • Consultations are held with supervisors and tasks completed according to a specified schedule, according to an established series of deadlines (as specified in the Dissertation Handbook).
  • The students should meet their supervisor with the outline and agree the project research topic before registration at the end of their second year.
  • In their third year they will see their supervisor for at least four hours in the first two terms.
  • Supervisors will be responsible for advising students of all the practical dimensions of the module.
  • Compulsory risk assessment procedures are in place as a requirement under Health and Safety Regulations.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 4 2 in first term and 2 in second term 2 hours 8
Dissertation Consultations to be arranged with supervisor 4
Preparation and Reading 388
Total 400

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Dissertation 12000 words max(excluding bibliography and appendices) 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment is based on a Literature Review (approximately 2000 words) and Appendices from the Dissertation Handbook.

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