Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module ANTH3937: Anthropology Art and Experience

Department: Anthropology

ANTH3937: Anthropology Art and Experience

Type Open Level 3 Credits 10 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • ANTH2051 Politics and Economics OR ANTH2161 Kinship and Religion


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce students to classic and contemporary anthropological debates around art and material culture
  • To develop an understanding of concepts such as aesthetics, agency and style and temporality from the perspective of social anthropology.
  • To understand how anthropological approaches to art and material culture can further our understanding of social processes, notions of the person and of time.
  • To provide students with analytical tools to study anthropologically material and visual cultures, as well as processes of making and objectification.


  • The module deals with the social anthropology of art and material culture with a particular attention to ethnographic approaches that foreground how everyday social interactions are mediated, produced and transformed by systems of objects and images.
  • The module will cover a range of subjects such as: primitivism and modernism, art as a category for experience, the agency of art objects, anthropological approaches to aesthetics and style, art and notions of time.

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 in social anthropology research.
  • Deploy analytical skills specific to social anthropological understandings of art and material culture.
  • Be competent in accessing and assimilating specialised research literature of an advanced nature.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • In depth knowledge of the social anthropology of art and material culture, with emphasis on interpretation and comprehensive understanding of primary or secondary data.
Key Skills:
  • Preparation and effective communication of research methods, data, interpretation and arguments in written form.

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.
  • 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 be a 2500-word written piece where students will apply concepts and perspectives in social anthropology to relevant ethnographic and/or media materials related to art and material culture societies.

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
Assignment 2500 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

500 word assignment

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