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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Centre for Open Learning : Social and Political Science

Undergraduate Course: Social Anthropology (LLLJ07023)

Course Outline
SchoolCentre for Open Learning CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryBy exploring what it means to be human through a cross-cultural study of key anthropological themes - such as gender, kinship, exchange and ritual - students will learn how to think anthropologically and to look at the world that surrounds them from a different perspective.
Course description This course is intended to provide an entry point to the credit study of social sciences at COL. The 20 credit model will allow proper time for students to develop understanding and key academic skills and to benefit from formative assessment and feedback.

The course will provide an introduction to anthropology by examining cultural practices and ideas and by exploring some of the discipline's core debates. Engaging with anthropological classics and contemporary works, students will learn how to think anthropologically and to look at the world that surrounds them from a different perspective. The broad scope of the themes discussed will enable students to appreciate the cross-cultural diversity of human beliefs and practices. The course endeavours to place anthropological debates and concepts in historical perspective, scrutinizing the specific political and cultural milieus from which they emerged and the biases implicit in work from different eras. A key aim of the course is to reflect on the relevance of anthropology for understanding the complex dynamics of the contemporary world.

The course begins with a brief consideration of what anthropologists do, exploring the central concerns of the discipline and its distinctive ethnographic methodology (including fieldwork and participant observation). The remainder of the course is organised in two parts. The first part focuses on the life course. Students will explore the cross-cultural significance of key events and phases of human life, including birth, childhood, initiation, aging and death. The second part of the course examines key concerns in anthropology, such as personhood, ritual, gender, kinship, food, ethnicity, healing, the body, and witchcraft. Throughout the course, students will explore what it means to be human though the comparative study of cultures and societies. The wide range of topics discussed will allow students to reflect on the ways in which different domains of social life are deeply interconnected and mutually formative, thereby encouraging a holistic view of society and culture.

Each session will combine lecture and tutorial discussion. Students will be encouraged to critically engage with the course material and to reflect on the literature's contemporary relevance through the lenses of their own experience. Practical tasks and group discussions will enable students to expand and refine their understanding of key concepts. Feedback provided during class will enhance students' ability to draw comparisons and contrasts between their own and other societies. Formative assessments will strengthen students' analytical and critical skills, preparing them for the assessed components of their coursework.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  20
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 40, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 156 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Summative Assessment 1: 2000 word critical review of a classic anthropological text submitted at the end of semester 1 (40% of the total course mark)

Summative Assessment 2: 2000 word essay submitted at the end of semester 2 (60% of the total course mark)
Feedback All students will have the opportunity to submit a 1000-word formative critical review mid-way through semester 1. This will be returned with feedback in time to help students complete the first summative assessment. Students will also be encouraged to submit an essay plan and complete a referencing exercise mid-way through semester 2. These will be returned with feedback before the due date of the second summative assessment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of key anthropological concepts and debates
  2. Employ critical, analytical and reflective skills in understanding one's own culture and that of other societies;
  3. Demonstrate an awareness of how an anthropological approach can be beneficial in developing an informed and critical understanding of the contemporary world;
  4. Critically assess ethnographic evidence
  5. Convey ideas in a well-structured and coherent form
Reading List
Eriksen, T. H. 2001. Small Places, Large Issues. London: Pluto Press.

Boylston, Tom. 2018. The Stranger at the Feast: Prohibition andMediation in an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Community. Berkeley:
University of California Press.
Carrithers, M. 1992. Why Humans Have Cultures. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Eller, J. D. 2009. Cultural Anthropology: Global Forces, Local Lives. New York: Routledge.
Carsten, J. 2004. After Kinship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cassidy, R. 2002. The Sport of Kings: Kinship, Class and Thoroughbred Breeding in Newmarket. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Descola, P. 1996 The Spears of Twilight: Life and Death in the Amazon Jungle. London: Harper Collins.
Evans-Pritchard, E. E. 1976. Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Mauss, M. 1990 [1950]. The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies. London: Routledge.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course, students should have strengthened their skills in critical analysis and participation in group discussion.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMr Maximillian Jaede
Course secretaryMs Kameliya Skerleva
Tel: (0131 6)51 1855
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