Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module ANTH46830: Thinking Anthropologically

Department: Anthropology

ANTH46830: Thinking Anthropologically

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap None.


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To develop the students’ awareness of current issues and challenges within the main sub-field of sociocultural anthropology.
  • To develop the students’ ability to apply theories and concepts from social anthropology to a range of contemporary issues.
  • To encourage students to think critically and carefully about the relationships between theory and ethnography.


  • Major topics of current anthropological concern are covered, within the relevant areas of the discipline (e.g. health, political, economic, kinship, religion, energy, environment). Precise topics will vary from year to year but may include: forced migration; biotechnology and bioethics; carbon and post-carbon economies; chemicals and bodies, etc.
  • Students will learn about current concepts and debates in relation to these topics and will apply relevant theoretical perspectives.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Develop knowledge of current areas of work and debate at the cutting edge of research in socio-cultural anthropology.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Develop ability to comment critically on those debates, bringing in relevant theory and ethnographic insights.
  • Develop ability to present an effective argument (both orally and in writing) that demonstrates an awareness of the complexity of selected theoretical issues in relation to current debates.
Key Skills:
  • Communication: students will be taught how to communicate clearly (both orally and in writing) their understanding of the material they have read.
  • Improving own learning and performance: students will learn to use a variety of web tools for searching the primary and secondary literature.

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

  • Lectures: to introduce each topic and scaffold students’ independent reading.
  • Seminars: to provide opportunities for students to discuss and present readings and associated theories in depth, facilitated by the tutor.
  • Assessment: summative 5000-word essay applying anthropological theories and perspectives to one or more key contemporary topics.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 9 Either 4-5 per term or (intensive version) weekly over one term 2 hours 18
Lectures 9 Either 4-5 per term or (intensive version) weekly over one term 1 hour 9
Preparation and Reading 273
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

1000-piece piece of writing setting out the core argument of the 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