Special Essay Paper in Social Anthropology

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Harry Walker and Dr Mukulika Banerjee


This course is compulsory on the BA in Social Anthropology and BSc in Social Anthropology. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

Course content

The course gives students the opportunity to write an extended essay which addresses an anthropological theme of their own choosing. The extended essay should be based either on library-based research or on fieldwork-based research conducted on a topic that is suitable for anthropological analysis. Students should ensure that there is an adequate body of relevant literature available for analysis, and that the topic as defined is not unmanageably large.

There is no formal course content. Students will be expected to draw widely on their readings from other anthropology courses.


2 hours of lectures, 5 hours of lectures and 1 hour of seminars in the MT. 2 hours of lectures and 4 hours of seminars in the LT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

Guidance on dissertation research and writing will be given in a one-hour session in ST (to students finishing their 2nd year) and in the timetabled teaching in MT and LT (to students in their 3rd year). In addition to direction from their Academic Mentor in regular mentoring meetings across the year, the AM will suggest other members of staff for students to consult on the basis of the proposed topic.


Formative coursework

Following an introductory lecture and seminar, students will submit a Dissertation Topic form at the end of MT week 2 (using a template published on Moodle). They will then work with their academic mentor and through timetabled teaching. They will submit a Critical Literature Review form during MT week 7, a 2,500-word extract during of LT week 2, and a Dissertation Contents form during LT week 7. 

Indicative reading

There is no formal course content. Students will be expected to draw widely on their readings from other anthropology courses.


Dissertation (100%, 9000 words) in the ST.

The essay is 9,000 words of main text, including footnotes and appendices but excluding bibliography. The essay should be typed, double spaced, and should follow the reference procedures of The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. The essay must be handed in to the Anthropology Departmental Office by the date announced in the Department’s Handbook, normally week 2 of ST.

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2021/22: 37

Average class size 2021/22: 9

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills