Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module ANTH3307: The Social Anthropology of Hormones

Department: Anthropology

ANTH3307: The Social Anthropology of Hormones

Type Open Level 3 Credits 10 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • ANTH2111 Sex, Reproduction and Love OR ANTH2141 Global Health and Disease


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce a range of social anthropological perspectives on pharmaceuticals, bodily substances, and the entanglements of nature and culture (biology and the social) in the context of hormones.
  • To explore the contemporary phenomena of ‘hormone thinking’ and ‘hormone living’.
  • To provide students with a set of critical tools to understand the effects of hormone knowledges on our understandings of nature and culture including the body /mind, sex/gender, normal/pathological, inside/outside and self/other.


  • The module will examine the evolution hormonal flows from a range of theoretical perspectives including feminist technoscience, material-semiotics, gender studies, critical disability studies, anthropology of reproduction, and anthropology of pharmaceuticals.
  • Topics that may be covered include: pharmaceutical flows, fertility/infertility, infant-parent bonding, environmental toxicity the politics of intersex, and hormonal models of the normal and the pathological.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the module, students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate advanced levels of current knowledge and intensive understanding of approaches in medical anthropology including biosociality, material-semiotics and the molecularization of life.
  • Deploy analytical skills specific to the social anthropology of hormones including those required to explore ‘hormone thinking’ and ‘hormone living’.
  • Be competent in accessing and assimilating specialised research literature of an advanced nature.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • In depth knowledge of the social anthropology of hormones.
Key Skills:
  • Experience and understanding of methods, data and conceptual frameworks used in the study of hormones and social and medical anthropology and science and technology studies more broadly. Ability to communicate these verbally and in written form.

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

  • Classes will integrate lecture, tutorial and practical components.
  • Lectures may consist of pre-recorded videos, live presentations, break-out discussions or other activities as appropriate to the material covered from week to week
  • Lecture elements will provide students with an outline of key knowledge and debates in the topic area, discuss the literature that students should explore, and provide relevant examples and cases studies.
  • Practical components will provide students with hands-on experience of the research.
  • Tutorial elements will prepare students for their summative assignment. They will combine discussions about practical components and discussions about the topics introduced in lectures and required reading. Student preparation and reading time will allow engagement with specific references in advance of tutorials and general and particular reading related to the assessment, which will be a written assignment (such as an essay or report).
  • Summative assessment will consist of a 2,500-word written assignment in which students will explore concepts and perspectives covered in the course with the option of including data gathered during practical assignments.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Classes 15 Specified in module handbook 1 15
Preparation and Reading 85
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Project 2500 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

500 word interview reflection.

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