Evidence and Arguments in Anthropology and Other Social Sciences

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr William Matthews and Dr Leo Hopkinson



This course is compulsory on the MRes/PhD in Anthropology. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

This seminar course considers research practices across a range of social and natural sciences, arts and humanities in order to explore methodological issues that are relevant to anthropology and ethnography. In particular, it focuses on the relationship between evidence and the kinds of inferences and conclusions which are drawn by researchers in different fields.


Each week students will be involved in two seminars, one on Tuesday and one on Friday. In Tuesday seminars, we will consider case-studies taken from different disciplines in relation to the research practices of ethnographers. The disciplines covered may include: cognitive science & developmental psychology; psychoanalysis; moral and political philosophy; photographic and visual art theory; history and archival research; demography; human and behavioural ecology; development studies; linguistic anthropology; philosophy of science and STS; literary criticism; creative writing; and architecture. In the Friday seminars, students will present their own draft research proposals to others in written and oral form, focusing on (1) the questions they hope to explore in their dissertations; (2) the kinds of evidence they will need in order to adequately explore these questions; (3) the methods they will adopt in order to collect this evidence.


40 hours of seminars in the LT.

This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of virtual lectures, classes and online interactive activities. The contact hours listed above are the minimum expected. This course has a reading week in Week 6 of LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 case study in the LT.

This will allow students to practice and receive feedback on the direct application of different disciplinary perspectives to a body of data, in preparation for their summative assessment and for their future research.


Essay (50%, 2500 words), presentation (25%) and class participation (25%) in the LT.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2020/21: 7

Average class size 2020/21: 7

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills