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School of Social Sciences

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BSocSc Social Anthropology
Explore human behaviour and relationships and the challenges across different cultures.

BSocSc Social Anthropology / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course description

  • Are you interested in how people behave and organise their economic, social and political lives?
  • Are you fascinated with the diversity in human societies and cultures?
  • Would you like to develop analytical and communication skills for your next career move?
  • Would you like to study abroad in one of our partner institutions for your third year?
  • Take the right course units and you can apply for a paid summer internship through Manchester's Q-Step programme .

Contemporary Social Anthropology is a critical discipline that tackles an enormous variety of topics.

These range from the social and cultural implications of new reproductive and information technologies through the analysis of ritual, kinship, and material culture to the study of violence, poverty and the means for resolving conflicts and alleviating human suffering.

Although anthropological studies are now conducted everywhere, from middle class suburbs and inner cities, to rural settlements, boardrooms and labour camps, what all our studies have in common is an awareness of, and attention to, human diversity.

The programme provides a comprehensive knowledge of the diversity of cultural, social and material aspects of human existence in contemporary societies.

It has both regional and global scope, focusing on particular peoples and areas, while considering much wider issues, including current processes of globalisation and migration.

Social Anthropology at Manchester draws on ethnographic expertise in Melanesia, South Asia, Eastern, Southern and Western Europe, East Africa, the Andes, Latin America and Amazonia.

Students who choose to study with us are interested in the diverse ways in which human beings live in the world today.

They are interested, amongst other things, in cultural difference and similarity, in the social and economic relationships between different parts of the world and in the varied ways in which people make families, communities and societies.

What better way to expand the understanding of cultural diversity that you gain in studying Social Anthropology by also spending a year overseas?

Therefore, Social Anthropology at Manchester offers a pathway for this course: BSocSc (Hons) in Social Anthropology with International Study .

Students on this pathway have the opportunity to study in one of our partner universities in the third year of their studies.

By the end of your degree programme you will have gained practical cross-cultural experience of another student culture, as well as acquiring knowledge, through experience and participation, of the society in which it is embedded.

You can find more information about this on our 'Study abroad' page .

Special features

  • Students on this pathway have the opportunity to study in one of our partner universities in the third year of their studies.
  • The Research Excellence Framework ( REF2014 ) confirms Manchester as one of the leading centres for Social Science research in the UK and puts Social Anthropology first in the UK.
  • Founded in 1949 the Social Anthropology discipline area at The University of Manchester has grown to become one of the largest departments in Britain with an unrivalled reputation for ethnographic film making, photography and sound.
  • The Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology houses a film library with some of 1500 titles from classic ethnographic film to contemporary documentary and world cinema. To complement the film titles, it boosts a comprehensive collection of written materials by anthropologists and film makers, including a selection of journals.

Our students

Social Anthropology students in figures (2014):

  • Students on the course came from 7 countries
  • Their ages ranged from 18 - 40
  • The male / female ratio was 24 : 76

Meet our students

Teaching and learning

Most course units feature formal lectures supported by smaller tutorials or seminars, in which you will be able to explore the contents of lectures and recommended reading in greater depth.

Tutorials and seminars are also key elements in improving your written and oral communication skills through group discussions, essay-writing and presentations.

Students are assigned an Academic Advisor, an academic member of staff who takes a friendly interest in your progress and can advise you on selecting course units and career opportunities.

Coursework and assessment

The way that you study and are assessed will depend on which units you choose. The range of methods is carefully designed to promote in-depth learning and understanding.

  • Essays, coursework and other mid-term evaluations allow fuller development of and feedback on students' knowledge and understanding.
  • Coursework, essays and dissertations promote the development of argument and fuller understanding of academic material and test the extent to which students can carry out work independently.
  • Presentations or group projects promote the development of teamwork as well as communication skills.

Course content for year 1

In your first year you will take 120 credits of units (around 7 individual courses) across the year. Current examples include:

Compulsory units (100 credits)

  • Power and Culture: Inequality in Everyday Life
  • Cultural Diversity in a Global Perspective
  • Key Ideas in Social Anthropology
  • Regional Studies of Culture: 1 (Melanesia and Mediterranean)
  • Regional Studies of Culture: 2 (Brazil and Central Asia)
  • Anthropology Today: Making Sense of the Contemporary World

Optional (20 credits) could include the following.

  • Introduction to Business Anthropology: Consumers, Companies and Culture
  • First Level Free Choice from outside Social Anthropology

Course units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Power and Culture: Inequality in Everyday Life SOAN10301 10 Mandatory
Cultural Diversity in Global Perspective SOAN10312 10 Mandatory
Key Ideas in Social Anthropology SOAN10320 20 Mandatory
Regional Studies of Culture: 1 SOAN10331 20 Mandatory
Regional Studies of Culture: 2 SOAN10352 20 Mandatory
Anthropology Today SOAN10370 20 Mandatory
Introduction to Business Anthropology: Consumers, Companies and Culture SOAN10361 20 Optional

Course content for year 2

In your second year you take 120 credits.

Two compulsory units (40 credits)

  • The Ethnographer's Craft
  • Anthropological Theory

Three core courses (60 credits)

  • Sex, Gender and Kinship
  • Anthropology of Religion
  • Political and Economic Anthropology
  • Materiality and Representation

Free choice units from final year options (20 credits) could include the following.

  • Anthropology of Science, Magic and Expertise
  • Medical Anthropology
  • Anthropology of Development and Humanitarianism
  • Contemporary Issues in the Social Anthropology of the Middle East
  • Anthropology of Childhood and Education
  • Anthropology of Britain
  • The Good Life: An Anthropology of Ethics
  • Black Identity and Culture in Latin America
  • Screening Culture
  • Anthropology of Vision, Memory and the Senses

In your second year you can also make up your free choice units from across the University:

Course units for year 2

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Anthropological Theory SOAN20830 20 Mandatory
The Ethnographer's Craft SOAN20842 20 Mandatory
Sex, Gender and Kinship SOAN20802 20 Optional
Anthropology of Religion SOAN20811 20 Optional
Political and Economic Anthropology SOAN20821 20 Optional
Materiality and Representation SOAN20852 20 Optional
An Anthropology of Science, Magic and Expertise SOAN30052 20 Optional
Medical Anthropology SOAN30061 20 Optional
Anthropology of Development and Humanitarianism SOAN30111 20 Optional
Contemporary Issues in the Social Anthropology of the Middle East SOAN30122 20 Optional
Anthropology of Childhood and Education SOAN30371 20 Optional
Anthropology of Britain SOAN30382 20 Optional
The Good Life: An Anthropology of Ethics SOAN30391 20 Optional
Space and Power in Central Asia SOAN30402 20 Optional
Black Identities and Cultures in Latin America SOAN30662 20 Optional
Screening Culture SOAN30792 20 Optional
Anthropology of Vision, Senses and Memory SOAN30811 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 17 course units for year 2

Course content for year 3

In the third year, you may be able to study for a full year abroad with one of our exchange partners. In order to qualify for this you will need to achieve a minimum of 60% for all courses.

Core course

  • Study Abroad: Experience, Reflection and Analysis (20 credits)
  • You will complete the remaining 100 credits at the University you are on exchange with.

Students who take this option will return Manchester to complete their final year of study and be awarded the BSocSc Social Anthropology with International Study (a four-year degree course). More about studying abroad .

If you do not take the full year abroad option your third year modules will made up instead from the course content for year 4 (below). These modules will be your final year of a three-year degree course.

Course content for year 4

In your final year you will complete a compulsory dissertation as part of your overall 120 credits.

Compulsory units (40 credits)

  • Dissertation A

Optional courses (80 credits) could include the following.

  • Anthropology of Science, Magic and Expertise
  • Medical Anthropology
  • Anthropology of Development and Humanitarianism
  • Contemporary Issues in the Social Anthropology of the Middle East
  • Anthropology of Childhood and Education
  • Anthropology of Britain
  • The Good Life: An Anthropology of Ethics
  • Black Identity and Culture in Latin America
  • Screening Culture
  • Anthropology of Vision, Memory and the Senses

Course units for year 4

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Dissertation A SOAN30610 40 Mandatory
An Anthropology of Science, Magic and Expertise SOAN30052 20 Optional
Medical Anthropology SOAN30061 20 Optional
Anthropology of Development and Humanitarianism SOAN30111 20 Optional
Contemporary Issues in the Social Anthropology of the Middle East SOAN30122 20 Optional
Anthropology of Childhood and Education SOAN30371 20 Optional
Anthropology of Britain SOAN30382 20 Optional
The Good Life: An Anthropology of Ethics SOAN30391 20 Optional
Space and Power in Central Asia SOAN30402 20 Optional
Black Identities and Cultures in Latin America SOAN30662 20 Optional
Screening Culture SOAN30792 20 Optional
Anthropology of Vision, Senses and Memory SOAN30811 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 12 course units for year 4

What our students say

'The BSocSc Social Anthropology degree course is focused enough whilst broad in scope, covering topics as far ranging as development and globalisation to gender and ritual. As a result I have developed invaluable life skills and training which encourages a reading of life and the world that does not take anything for granted, and an awareness of a range of issues pertaining to the contemporary world; skills I feel will be important and transferable when deciding to pursue a career. Aside from the strong friendships I have formed on the course, I have been inspired by the work and teachings of the diverse lecturers at Manchester.'

Myia Fray , Social Anthropology student.

'Without a strong idea of a career that I wanted to pursue I decided to choose a degree based on my own interests. Three years later I couldn't be more certain that I made the right decision - Social Anthropology is a degree that provides a huge range of transferable skills, and as such it is one that offers limitless career opportunities.  It has undoubtedly been a fascinating course which has not only taught me about 'exotic' cultures, but which has opened my eyes to things that I've always taken for granted in my own culture. The city is busy and vibrant, and with the prestige anthropological background of The Manchester School, The University of Manchester has met my needs and expectations both socially and academically.'

Alicia Kidd , Social Anthropology student.

  • 96% of students agreed that our staff are good at explaining things and make the subject interesting (Source: Unistats)

Facilities

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: dass@manchester.ac.uk