BSc Social Anthropology

  • Undergraduate
  • Department of Anthropology
  • UCAS code L603
  • Starting 2019
  • UK/EU full-time: Closed
  • Overseas full-time: Closed
  • Location: Houghton Street, London


The BSc Social Anthroplogy programme is designed for imaginative, critical thinkers who are passionate about understanding why the world is as it is – and about using the insights anthropology provides to make it better. You will explore the incredible diversity of human experience, and consider what is universal to human societies and what is variable. You will examine how different political, legal, and economic systems influence people’s beliefs, values and practices, and you will interrogate the very categories we use to describe the world with, such as gender, religion, race.

In addition, you will explore how anthropological insights can be applied to make a difference: to see how legal systems could be made more just; how public health campaigns could be improved; and how development interventions could be made more effective.

The programme offers full training in anthropological research methods. In addition to undertaking an in-depth ethnographic study during your second year, you will have the opportunity to take part in the Summer Fieldwork Projects scheme. You will also have the opportunity to spend a year abroad at one of the Anthropology Department's global partners.

Students on this programme also have the opportunity to receive a language specialism attached to their degree certificate and transcript - see the programme structure and courses section.

As anthropology can be considered an art or a science, you can choose either the BA or BSc title, although the programme content remains the same. See BA Social Anthropology.

Programme details

Key facts

BA Social Anthropology
Academic year (2019/20) 30 September 2019 - 19 June 2020
Application deadline 15 January 2019
Duration Three years full-time
Applications/offers/intake 2017 80/34/8
Availability Closed
Tuition fee UK/EU fee: £9,250 for the first year
Overseas fee: £19,920 for the first year
Usual standard offer A level: grades A A B
International Baccalaureate: Diploma with 37 points including 6 6 6 at Higher level.
English language requirements Proof of your English language proficiency may be required
Location  Houghton Street, London

For more information about tuition fees, usual standard offers and entry requirements, see the fees and funding and assessing your applications sections below.

Programme structure and courses

The degree involves studying courses to the value of 12 units over three years, plus LSE100. You will also have the opportunity to apply for a year abroad at one of our global exchange partners.

Language specialism

Students who have taken and passed at least one language course in each year of their degree (ie, 25 per cent of their overall programme of study) will be offered the opportunity to receive a language specialism attached to their degree certificate and transcript. Students must take all courses in the same language (French, Spanish, German, Mandarin or Russian) in order to qualify for the specialism. The three courses must also be consecutively harder in level, for example: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Students who choose to take language courses are not obligated to receive a specialism, but have the option if they wish. Degree certificates which include a language specialism will state the language in the title, for example: BSc in Social Anthropology with French.

First year

In your first year, you will take three compulsory anthropology courses, as well as LSE100, which is taught in the Lent term only. You will also choose an introductory outside option for your fourth course, choosing from a range of subjects such as economics, geography, international relations, law, philosophy, politics, sociology, social psychology, language and literature.

(* denotes a half unit course)

Introduction to Social Anthropology
Provides a general overview of the discipline, introducing a range of questions that anthropologists have focused on via their research in societies around the world. Among other things, it explores what is variable and what is universal (or at least commonly found) in human culture and society by examining a range of political, economic, family, and religious systems found among different peoples.

Ethnography and Theory: Selected Texts
Introduces the works of classic social science theorists and how they have been applied to ethnographic analyses of particular societies.

Anthropology, Text and Film
Explores debates about the nature of anthropological interpretation and representation through the in-depth analysis of selected case studies. This course will develop your anthropological analytical skills, your ability to read and to reflect on complete book-length texts and ethnographic films, and your capacity to make well-grounded comparisons and generate independent opinions.

One outside option

Beginning in the Lent term of the first year and running through the Michaelmas term of the second year, LSE100 is compulsory for all LSE undergraduate students, and introduces you to the fundamental elements of thinking like a social scientist.

Second year

In your second year you will take three units worth of compulsory courses in anthropology, including an independent research project. You will also choose a further unit's worth of social anthropology courses, and will continue to take LSE100, in the Michaelmas term only. Over your second and third years you must take at least one half unit course which focuses on the anthropology of a selected geographical or ethnographic region (for example, South Asia, Amazonia or Melanesia).

It may be possible, dependent on timetabling, for you to take options from the three other colleges of the University of London which have anthropology departments: Goldsmiths College, University College London, and the School of Oriental and African Studies.

The Anthropology of Kinship, Sex and Gender
Considers the varied ways in which the family, kinship, personhood, femaleness and maleness, birth and sex are understood in different cultures.

Political and Legal Anthropology
Explores how a wide range of societies handle conflict, dispute, violence and the establishment and maintenance of political and legal systems.

Economic Anthropology (1): Production and Exchange*
Offers an anthropological perspective on all aspects of economic life, from farming and factory work to gift exchange systems and contemporary consumerism. You’ll examine how anthropological research might complicate conventional economic theory, and how economic systems influence diverse aspects of social life.

Research Methods in Social Anthropology*
You will design and carry out a small anthropological research project.

Social anthropology options to the value of one unit

Beginning in the Lent term of the first year and running through the Michaelmas term of the second year, LSE100 is compulsory for all LSE undergraduate students, and introduces you to the fundamental elements of thinking like a social scientist.

Third year

In your third year you will take three units worth of compulsory courses in anthropology, including an extended essay. You will also choose a further unit's worth of social anthropology courses, and will continue to take LSE100, in the Michaelmas term only. 

It may be possible, dependent on timetabling, for you to take options from the three other colleges of the University of London which have anthropology departments: Goldsmiths College, University College London, and the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Advanced Theory of Social Anthropology
Examines some of the most cutting-edge new texts in anthropological theory – as well as classic texts that are enjoying a renaissance. This course situates you at the forefront of debates on which anthropologists themselves have yet to make up their mind, challenging you to evaluate some of the most controversial new developments in the discipline.

The Anthropology of Religion
Examines differences between local religious practices and world religions, explores the reasons why ritual is so central to the organisation of cultural life, looks at the character of particular cosmologies and symbolic schemes, analyses the logic of some non-Western systems of thought and philosophy, and considers the relationship between religion and modernity.

Economic Anthropology (2): Transformation, Development and Globalisation*
Examines how and why human existence has been transformed by the forms of global interconnectedness that have emerged since the 1970s, and how anthropological research on these issues can inform activism and policy.

Special Essay Paper in Social Anthropology*
You will write an extended essay on an anthropological topic of your choice.

Social anthropology options to the value of one unit

You can find the most up-to-date list of optional courses in the Programme Regulations section of the current School Calendar.

You must note however that while care has been taken to ensure that this information is up-to-date and correct, a change of circumstances since publication may cause the School to change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. The School will always notify the affected parties as early as practicably possible and propose any viable and relevant alternative options. Note that the School will neither be liable for information that after publication becomes inaccurate or irrelevant, nor for changing, suspending or withdrawing a course or programme of study due to events outside of its control, which includes but is not limited to a lack of demand for a course or programme of study, industrial action, fire, flood or other environmental or physical damage to premises.

You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee you a place. Please note that changes to programmes and courses can sometimes occur after you have accepted your offer of a place. These changes are normally made in light of developments in the discipline or path-breaking research, or on the basis of student feedback. Changes can take the form of altered course content, teaching formats or assessment modes. Any such changes are intended to enhance the student learning experience. You should visit the School’s Calendar, or contact the relevant academic department, for information on the availability and/or content of courses and programmes of study. Certain substantive changes will be listed on the updated undergraduate course and programme information page.

Teaching and assessment


Most courses involve weekly lectures of one hour each, and associated classes where you discuss reading assignments in a small group with a teacher. In the first two terms you will typically have eight or more contact hours of formal tuition a week. Hours vary according to courses and you can view indicative details in the Calendar within the Teaching section of each course guide. In addition, we show films about anthropology and the world's cultures throughout the first two terms. There are tutorial meetings, linked to essay assignments, which vary in number depending on the degree. 

You are also expected to complete independent study outside of class time. This varies depending on the programme, but requires you to manage the majority of your study time yourself, by engaging in activities such as reading, note-taking, thinking and research.

LSE is internationally recognised for its teaching and research and therefore employs a rich variety of teaching staff with a range of experience and status. Courses may be taught by individual members of faculty, such as associate professors and professors. Many departments also employ guest teachers and visiting members of staff, LSE teaching fellows and graduate teaching assistants who are usually doctoral research students. You can view indicative details for the teacher responsible for each course in the relevant course guide.

You will have an academic mentor who will provide general guidance and assistance with both academic and personal concerns. There are many opportunities to extend your learning outside the classroom and complement your academic studies at LSE. LSE LIFE is the School’s centre for academic, personal and professional development. Some of the services on offer include: guidance and hands-on practice of the key skills you will need to do well at LSE: effective reading, academic writing and critical thinking; workshops related to how to adapt to new or difficult situations, including development of skills for leadership, study/work/life balance and preparing for the world of work; and advice and practice on working in study groups and on cross-cultural communication and teamwork.

LSE is committed to enabling all students to achieve their full potential and the School’s Disability and Wellbeing Service provides a free, confidential service to all LSE students and is a first point of contact for all disabled students.

Your timetable

The lecture and seminar timetable is published in mid-August and the full academic timetable (lectures/seminars and undergraduate classes) is published by mid-September and is accessible via the LSE Timetables webpages.

Undergraduate student personal timetables are published in LSE for You (LFY). For personal timetables to appear, students must be registered at LSE, have successfully signed up for courses in LFY and ensured that their course selection does not contain unauthorised clashes.

Every effort is made to minimise changes after publication, once personal timetables have been published any changes are notified via email.

The standard teaching day runs from 09:00-18:00; Monday to Friday. Teaching for undergraduate students will not usually be scheduled after 12:00 on Wednesdays to allow for sports, volunteering and other extra-curricular events. 


All taught courses are required to include formative coursework which is unassessed. It is designed to help prepare you for summative assessment which counts towards the course mark and to the degree award. LSE uses a range of formative assessment, such as essays, problem sets, case studies, reports, quizzes, mock exams and many others.

Summative assessment is generally either through  continuous assessment, take-home examination or a traditional unseen examination  in May or June each year. In the second year of the BA Social Anthropology, students conduct an ethnographic study and write a report of up to 5,000 words; in the third year of the BA Social Anthropology, students write an extended essay of up to 8,000 words. An indication of the formative coursework and summative assessment for each course can be found in the relevant course guide.

Feedback on coursework is an essential part of the teaching and learning experience at the School. Teachers mark formative coursework and return it with feedback to you normally within three weeks of submission (when the work is submitted on time). You will also receive feedback on any summative coursework you are required to submit as part of the assessment for individual courses. You will normally receive this feedback  within four weeks of submission (when work is submitted on time).

Find out more about LSE’s teaching and assessment methods


Preliminary reading

If you wish to gain further insight into social anthropology, we suggest that you look at one or more of the following books. The general introductory texts will allow you to get a sense of the discipline's coverage, while the ethnographies will allow you to dig deeper into specific isues and give you a flavour of the primary materials you will be engaging with during your degree. We have offered a wide selection to allow you to choose texts that mesh closely with your personal interests.

General introductions to anthropology

R Astuti, J Parry and C Stafford (eds) Questions of Anthropology (Berg, 2007) 

M Engelke Think Like an Anthropologist (Pelican 2017)

C Geertz The Interpretation of Cultures: selected essays (Basic Books, 1973)


Gender, poetry and emotions:
L Abu-Lughod Veiled sentiments: honor and poetry in a Bedouin society (University of California Press, 1986)

Cyber-ethnography, the virtual:
T Boellstorff Coming of Age in Second Life: an anthropologist explores the virtually human (Princeton University Press, 2008). 

Gender, sexuality:
S G Davies Challenging Gender Norms: five genders among the Bugis in Indonesia (Thomson Wadsworth, 2007)

Hunter-gatherers, shamanism, cosmology:
P Descola The Spears of Twilight: life and death in the amazon jungle (The New Press, 1998)

Race, education and achievement:
S Fordham Blacked Out: dilemmas of race, identity and success at capital high (University of Chicago Press. 1996)

Economics, globalisation:
R J Foster Coca-Globalization: following soft drinks from New York to New Guinea (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)

Medical ethics, law, feminism:
F Ginsburg Contested Lives: the abortion debate in an American community (University of California Press, 1998)

War, anti-colonialism/nationalism, religion:
D Lan Guns and Rain: guerillas and spirit mediums in Zimbabwe (University of California Press, 1985)

Postcolonialism, exchange, modernity:
C Piot Remotely Global: village modernity in West Africa (University of Chicago Press, 1999) 

Christianity, morality, conversion:
J Robbins Becoming Sinners: christianity and moral torment in a Papua New Guinea society (University of California Press, 2004)


Social anthropology is not a vocational degree, but the capacities for critical analysis and lateral thinking you gain will provide an excellent foundation in many careers. What really makes our anthropology graduates stand out is their ability to simultaneously see the big picture and appreciate how a policy or idea will play out on the ground. Recent graduates have gone on to work in journalism, development, medicine and counselling, law, human rights, nursing, teaching, business, theatre and film.

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme

Support for your career

Many leading organisations give careers presentations at the School during the year, and LSE Careers has a wide range of resources available to assist students in their job search.

Student stories

Berenice Low

BA/BSc Social Anthropology


People generally think that social anthropology is an extremely niche subject, but the converse is true. We explore various broad topics such as gender and sexuality, human nature, race and culture, and witchcraft. The Anthropology Department is a tight-knit community of dedicated teachers, enthusiastic seniors and fun-loving peers who bring the subject to life. The tutors help you form your argument in a more sophisticated manner and teach you how to reach your own conclusions, rather than spoon-feeding you answers.

Daniel Maxwell Okoro

BA/BSc Social Anthropology
London, UK


I enjoy being part of a diverse body of students in the heart of London, with access to research facilities and academics in a world centre of excellence. I also feel it would be fair to say that the depth of knowledge I have acquired so far can be attributed to the intensity and rigorousness of study here. I am safe in the knowledge that I will be leaving here with a world class training.

Almaz Gaere

BA Social Anthropology
Bournemouth, UK / South Sudan

Watch Almaz's video

Hannah Kearsey

BA Social Anthropology

Watch Hannah's video

Assessing your application

We welcome applications from all suitably qualified prospective students and want to recruit students with the very best academic merit, potential and motivation, irrespective of their background. The programme guidance below should be read alongside our general entrance requirements information.

We carefully consider each application on an individual basis, taking into account all the information presented on the UCAS application form, including your:

- academic achievement (including predicted and achieved grades)
- subject combinations
- personal statement
- teacher’s reference
- educational circumstances

You may also have to provide evidence of your English proficiency, although you do not need to provide this at the time of your application to LSE. See our English language requirements page.

What we are looking for in an application for BSc Social Anthropology

Academic achievement

Successful applicants for this programme are usually predicted to achieve or have already achieved a minimum of A A B in their A levels (or 37 and above International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB) points, with 6 6 6 in Higher level subjects). In addition we are looking for a strong pre-16 academic profile such as several GCSE grades of A (or 7) and A* (or 8-9) or equivalent across a broad range of subjects, with a minimum of grade B (or 5) in GSCE English and Mathematics or equivalent. We also consider your AS grades, if available.

Competition for places at the School is high. This means that even if you are predicted or if you achieve the grades that meet our usual standard offer, this will not guarantee you an offer of admission. Usual standard offers are intended only as a guide, and in some cases applicants will be asked for grades which differ from this.

We express our standard offers and where applicable, programme requirement, in terms of A levels and the IB, but we consider applications from students with a range of qualifications including BTECs, Foundation Courses and Access to HE Diplomas as well as a wide range of international qualifications.

Information about accepted international qualifications
Information about other accepted UK qualifications

Subject combinations

We consider the combination of subjects you have taken, as well as the individual scores. We believe a broad mix of traditional academic subjects to be the best preparation for studying at LSE and expect applicants to have at least two full A levels or equivalent in these subjects.

For the BA/BSc Social Anthropology, we are looking for students who have studied a broad and eclectic mix of subjects, therefore there is no one 'ideal' subject combination. Social anthropology can be viewed as a science and/or an arts subject thus successful anthropology applicants in the past have studied such diverse subjects as English, History, Economics, Languages, Sociology, Music, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Mathematics, Physics, RE, Psychology and Art.

We are happy to consider applicants offering Mathematics and Further Mathematics in combination with an essay writing subject for this programme.

Find out more about subject combinations.

Personal characteristics, skills and attributes

For this programme, we are looking for students who demonstrate the following skills:

- an interest in diverse cultures and societies
- ability to ask incisive questions
- ability to adopt a creative and flexible approach to study
- intellectual curiosity
- motivation and capacity for hard work

Personal statement

In addition to demonstrating the above personal characteristics, skills and attributes, your statement should be original, interesting and well-written and should outline your enthusiasm and motivation for the programme.

You should explain whether there are any aspects of particular interest to you, how this relates to your current academic studies and what additional reading or relevant experiences you have had which have led you to apply. We are interested to hear your own thoughts or ideas on the topics you have encountered through your exploration of the subject at school or through other activities. Some suggestions for preliminary reading can be found above in the preliminary reading section, but there is no set list of activities we look for; instead we look for students who have made the most of the opportunities available to them to deepen their knowledge and understanding of their intended programme of study.

You can also mention extra-curricular activities such as sport, the arts or volunteering or any work experience you have undertaken. However, the main focus of an undergraduate degree at LSE is the in-depth academic study of a subject and we expect the majority of your personal statement to be spent discussing your academic interests.

Please also see our general guidance about writing personal statements.

Fees and funding

Every undergraduate student is charged a fee for each year of their programme.

The fee covers registration and examination fees payable to the School, lectures, classes and individual supervision, lectures given at other colleges under intercollegiate arrangements and, under current arrangements, membership of the Students' Union. It does not cover living costs or travel or fieldwork.

Tuition fees

The 2019 tuition fees are:

UK/EU* students: £9,250 for the first year
Overseas students: £19,920 for the first year

UK/EU undergraduate fees may rise in line with inflation in subsequent years and the overseas fee usually rises by between 2.5 per cent and 4 per cent each year.

*The UK Government confirmed in July 2018 that the fee level for EU undergraduate new entrants in 2019/20 will be the same as Home UK for the duration of their undergraduate degree programme. Further information can be found on website. 

The amount of tuition fees you will need to pay, and any financial support you are eligible for, will depend on whether you are classified as a home (UK/EU) or overseas student, otherwise known as your fee status. LSE assesses your fee status based on guidelines provided by the Department of Education.

Scholarships, bursaries and loans

The School recognises that the cost of living in London may be higher than in your home town or country. LSE provides generous financial support, in the form of bursaries and scholarships to UK, EU and overseas students. 

In addition, UK Government support, in the form of loans, is available to UK and some EU students. Some overseas governments also offer funding.

Further information on tuition fees, cost of living, loans and scholarships.



Every undergraduate programme of more than one year duration will have UNISTATS data. The data allows you to compare information about individual programmes at different higher education institutions.

Please note that programmes offered by different institutions with similar names can vary quite significantly. We recommend researching the programmes you are interested in and taking into account the programme structure, teaching and assessment methods, and support services available.

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