Social Anthropology: An Introduction (Online)

Course summary

Social Anthropology: An Introduction (Online)



Overview

This course provides an exciting and dynamic introduction to the world of social anthropology. In brief, social anthropology is the study of how man gives meaning to the world through different social norms, values, practices and means of organisation. As such, the role of the social anthropologist is to explore and understand other cultures and societies, and in so doing, to better understand his or her own worldview as well. Through critical, sensitive debate and analysis, students will develop the analytical skills necessary to see the world in an anthropological way  to make the strange familiar, and the familiar strange.

Listen to Dr Patrick Alexander talking about the course:
 

This course provides an exciting and dynamic introduction to the world of social anthropology. In brief, social anthropology is the study of how man gives meaning to the world through different social norms, values, practices and means of organisation. As such, the role of the social anthropologist is to explore and understand other cultures and societies, and in so doing, to better understand his or her own worldview as well. Through critical, sensitive debate and analysis, students will develop the analytical skills necessary to see the world in an anthropological way  to make the strange familiar, and the familiar strange.

Over the duration of the course, students will explore a wide range of topics spanning many of the key themes of research in social anthropology. Units will include an introduction to thinking anthropologically; kinship; witchcraft; rituals and rites of passage; gender and identity, personhood, the anthropology of landscape; political organisation; and the impact of globalisation on ethnicity.

For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.

Programme details

  1. An introduction to social anthropology: key concepts

  2. Kinship: given, or made?

  3. Witchcraft: is a belief in science any more rational than a belief in witches?

  4. Gift exchange: is there such a thing as a free gift?

  5. Ritual and rites of passage: defining social status

  6. Political anthropology: power, authority and patterns of social organisation

  7. Humans and the environment: the anthropology of landscape

  8. Personhood: what defines the category person?

  9. Sex and gender: biology, identity and society

  10. Ethnicity and globalisation: understanding hyperdiversity

  11.  

We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.

 

 

Recommended reading

To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following texts:

Eriksen, T. H., What Is Anthropology? Anthropology, Culture and Society, (London, Pluto, 2004)
Eriksen, T. H., Small Places, Large Issues (3rd edn) (London, Pluto, 2010) OR Eriksen, T. H., Small Places, Large Issues (4th edn) (London, Pluto, 2015)

Certification

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £10 fee.

For more information on CATS point please click on the link below: http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/studentsupport/faq/cats.php

Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.

Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.

All students who successfully complete this course, whether registered for credit or not, are eligible for a Certificate of Completion. Completion consists of submitting both course assignments and actively participating in the course forums. Certificates will be available, online, for those who qualify after the course finishes.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.

Fees

EU Fee: £255.00
Non-EU Fee: £295.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00

Tutors

Dr Patrick Alexander

None

Dr. Patrick Alexander is a social anthropologist specialising in education, childhood and youth studies. He is a Senior Lecturer in Education (Anthropology and Sociology) at Oxford Brookes University, College Lecturer in Social Anthropology at St. Hugh's College, Oxford, and Research Fellow at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford. In 2014-15 Patrick was awarded a Fulbright Peabody Scholarship to conduct research as a Visiting Scholar at New York University. This project comprises a two year comparative ethnographic study exploring aspiration and imagined futures in urban public/state schools in NYC and London.

Course aims

This course aims to introduce students to the discipline of social anthropology, presenting key themes, theoretical debates, the historical development of the discipline, and ongoing questions of anthropological inquiry that remain crucial to our understanding of contemporary culture and society.

Teaching methods

  • Guided reading of texts
  • Group discussions of particular issues
  • Questions to be answered in personal folders
  • Students will be directed to websites relevant to each session (occasionally as a requirement, usually as optional additional reading)

Teaching outcomes

By the end of the course you will be able understand:

  • An overview of the key fields of research in social anthropology
  • An overview of the historical development of social anthropology, and an awareness of how anthropology related to contemporary society
  • An overview of key theoretical trajectories in social anthropology
  • An overview of the primary methods of anthropological research (ethnography)
  • The strengths and limitations of anthropological research

And you will have developed the following skills:

  • Develop the ability to think anthropologically: making the strange familiar, and the familiar strange
  • Develop critical thinking skills
  • Develop the ability to analyse ethnographic data
  • Develop the ability to discuss and debate issues of anthropological significance in a critical but sensitive manner

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment due half way through the course and one longer assignment due at the end of the course. Students will have about two weeks to complete each assignment.

Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.

Application

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.

Level and demands

FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.