Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module ANTH3787: Capitalism in Ruins

Department: Anthropology

ANTH3787: Capitalism in Ruins

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


  • ANTH2051 Politics and Economics


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To develop an understanding of contemporary forms of capitalism through a variety of different topical perspectives, including the guiding themes of ruins and ruinification.
  • To deepen and newly apply learning outcomes from political and economic anthropology modules in Y2 and Y1.
  • To explore diverse, but related bodies of literature in order to establish a critical analysis of current political and economic processes.


  • Contemporary approaches to capitalism, neoliberalism and contemporary political economies
  • Theories of affect, emotions and the body.
  • Theories of space, materiality and ruinification.
  • Theories of time, the future and temporal politics.
  • Contemporary topics in urban anthropology.
  • Contemporary topics in the anthropology of the postindustrial era.
  • Theories of energy, climate change and the Anthropocene.
  • Theories of power, agency and activism.
  • Contemporary topics in environmental and political anthropology.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the module, students will be able to:
  • analyse capitalism in the postindustrial era by combining diverse theoretical, analytic and topical approaches.
  • demonstrate advanced levels of current knowledge and intensive understanding of several different topical bodies of literature, in social anthropology and other social sciences.
  • deploy analytical skills specific to the study of contemporary social, political and economic phenomena, with an emphasis on spatio-temporal, material, post-human and affective theoretical approaches.
  • In depth empirical and theoretical knowledge of contemporary forms of capitalism, with an emphasis on interpretation and comprehensive understanding of ethnographic data and the development of a diverse analytical tool-kit.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Applying key skills (see below) to core concepts and debates pertaining to current debates surrounding contemporary capitalism.
Key Skills:
  • Preparation and effective communication of research methods, data, interpretation and arguments in written and oral form.
  • Critical analysis of primary and secondary data
  • Self-reflection on knowledge and skills acquired and developed
  • Accessing library resources
  • Undertaking independent study and research
  • Preparation and effective communication of interpretations and arguments in written form
  • Analysis and interpretation of visual material

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

  • Lectures 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.
  • Seminars will develop topics introduced in lectures and required reading to analyse aspects or case studies in greater depth and to prepare students for their summative assignment. These also include student presentations on extra seminar reading.
  • Interactive components will provide students with opportunities to develop and communicate their own thoughts and ideas.
  • Student preparation and reading time will allow engagement with specific references in advance of the classes and the written assignments.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 Weekly 1 hour 10
Seminars 5 Specified in the module handbook 1 hour 5
Preparation and Reading 85
Total 100

Summative Assessment

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

Formative Assessment:

‘In-class’ presentation and participation, pre-seminar comments and an essay abstract (250 words)

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