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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

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Power and Culture: Inequality in Everyday Life

Unit code SOAN10301
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Anthropology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes



Power and Culture explores some contributions made to the social sciences by social and cultural anthropology. The overall aim is to spark the students' anthropological imagination with some key insights that the discipline has developed, highlighting the specific perspectives that are offered by anthropologists on a range of themes. Dealing with a broad range of topics, the module is built around the implications of the straightforward anthropological notion of the 'social construction' of human realities, including many that are commonly experienced as 'natural'. Given the existing diversity in such social arrangements in the world, anthropological studies often draw attention to 'cultural relativity', i.e. the belief that there exists a variety of ways of experiencing the world and that these should be understood in relation to their own cultural context. Importantly, it is impossible to grasp this variety in terms of hierarchy and/or evolution, as if different worldviews reflected various stages on a civilisational ladder. The extent to which this awareness of cultural relativity should then frame our moral judgements is a matter of debate; i.e. a debate as to the merits of cultural relativism. Starting from a variety of case studies, we relate those to theoretical developments, central concepts and schools of thought in anthropology and their implications.


Power and Culture: Inequalities in Everyday Life provides an introduction into social anthropology for students with various academic backgrounds.

Learning outcomes

Relying on a variety of anthropological case materials, the course develops a number of themes around two main concepts: social construction and cultural relativity. Students are thus encouraged to appreciate the particular contribution that anthropology makes to understanding society.

Teaching and learning methods


Assessment methods

75% - 1.5 hour examination - Semester 1

25% - tutorial tasks

Feedback methods


There are several routes towards feedback on your learning for this course unit.

The most important forum for feedback is provided in the tutorials—this is the place where you can try out ideas and get feedback on them; where you can clarify those aspects of the readings of lecture materials that are unclear; and where you can hone your skills of critical reading, note-taking and summarising arguments. Assessed and credit-bearing individual tasks called 'AQC' are used to structure this engagement.

The second mechanism for receiving detailed, individual feedback on your work is through the formative writing exercise. This is not compulsory, and not assessed for credit. If you choose to do the formative writing exercise you pick one from a list of questions that are similar in scope and range to the kind that make up the second half of the exam. You do not receive a mark for this essay, but you will receive written feedback from your tutor. Details will be announced in due course.

The third feedback mechanism are drop-in office hours. There are two sets of those, held by your tutor and by the lecturer of the course unit. Your tutor’s office hours are also the opportunity to gain personalised, individual feedback on your written tutorial tasks. In your lecturer’s office hours, held every week except reading week, you can individually address any issues that you have not been able to deal with in the tutorials.

Recommended reading

Useful introductory texts include:

Eriksen T.H. 2001. Small places, large issues: an introduction to social and cultural anthropology (3rd ed). London: Pluto.

MacClancy J. (ed) 2002. Exotic no more: anthropology on the frontlines. Chicago UP.

Pocock D. 1998. Understanding social anthropology. London: Athlone Press.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 20
Tutorials 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 72.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Stef Jansen Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Length of Course: 12 weeks

Monday 11.00-13.00


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