Social Anthropology is concerned with the variety of human societies and cultures. Social anthropologists try to explain the causes of this variation and also attempt to enable us to understand what it means to belong to societies and cultures which, at first sight, appear very foreign to our own. Study of the subject should provide a framework to help you see what is universal to all human societies and what is variable, and help you to understand the dilemmas of society in the modern world.
Features of the LSE Course
Our courses are particularly concerned with the analysis of ritual, cognition, power relations, gender, mainstream and peripheral religious practices and beliefs, and the way in which non-industrial peoples make a living.
Our concern with the third world leads to a serious interest in development studies and the needs of rural people in less developed countries.
As well as encouraging insight into and understanding of different human cultures, we also place emphasis on accurate factual knowledge and on the means of transmitting knowledge and understanding through text and films.
While an anthropology degree is not a vocational training, the skills you will develop in reading critically, writing coherently, and reasoning effectively are widely valued by employers. Recent graduates have gone on to work in areas of human rights, journalism, development, medicine and counselling, work with refugees, nursing, teaching, business, theatre, film.
We have two degree programmes - BA/BSc Social Anthropology or BA Anthropology and Law - both of which involve the study of twelve courses over three years. To get an idea of the number and type of option courses typically available, click here to see Option Availability in the Anthropology Department for this and recent years.
Teaching and Assessment
Most courses involve weekly lectures of one hour each, and associated classes where you will discuss reading assignments in a small group with a teacher. In the first two terms you will have up to eight contact hours a week. In addition, we show films about anthropology and the world's cultures throughout the first two terms. There are tutorial meetings, often linked to essay assignments, which vary in number according to your degree. For certain courses we are developing an on-line teaching system which provides readings, information and opportunities for on-line discussions. Your personal tutor will be able to offer guidance and assistance with both academic and personal concerns.
Assessment is usually a combination of continuous assessment (which usually involves one or two substantial essays per course) with traditional unseen examination in May or June each year. In the final year of the BA/BSc Social Anthropology, students are required to write a 'special essay' of up to 8,000 words. Law courses are normally examined wholly by unseen examination.
Suggested Preliminary Reading
If you wish to gain further insight into the subject we suggest that you look at one or more of the following books:
K. Gardner Stories from a Bangladeshi Village (Virago)
T.H. Eriksen Small Places Large Issues: an introduction to social and cultural anthropology (Pluto Press)
J. Monaghan and P. Just Social & Cultural Anthropology: a very short introduction (Oxford University Press)
Further information about Anthropology
If you are interested in finding out more about what you can do with an anthropology degree, have a look at what some of our recently graduated alumni have done.
The Royal Anthropological Institute's 'Discover Anthropology' pages provide a useful introduction to the subject for anyone thinking of studying anthropology.