Undergraduate study - 2018 entry

Subject area: Social Anthropology

Why choose Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh?

  • Our international teaching staff are leaders in their field meaning you will learn from those working at the cutting edge of anthropological research

  • Our honours students have an opportunity to spend up to four months on an individual original research project either in the UK or abroad helping to enhance practical research skills and future employability.

  • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), 70 per cent of our research was rated world-leading or internationally excellent, placing us amongst the top three anthropology departments in the UK.

Study abroad

There are some very interesting and engaging courses at honours level, which address current political and social issues, making the courses very current and relevant to national and international affairs. For my dissertation research I went to Sierra Leone for six weeks and conducted research.

Tabitha Gould MA (Hons) Social Anthropology graduate
Tabitha Gould MA (Hons) Social Anthropology graduate

Social anthropology is the study of human conduct and thought. Societies around the world vary enormously socially, culturally and politically.

The study of these variations, and the common humanity that underlies them, is at the heart of social anthropology.

There are close links between social anthropology and sociology, human geography, development studies, history, archaeology, and philosophy.

You will take a broad range of courses in your first two years and have the opportunity to specialise in your final two years.

You will spend up to four months on an individual research project that will form the basis of your dissertation. Fieldwork for your project can be done both within and outside the UK.

Year 1

The first year provides you with a broad introduction to the subject. You will study Social Anthropology 1A and 1B, Fundamentals: Studying Anthropology and Fundamentals: Anthropological Practice. You will choose two to four option courses.

Year 2

You will study Social Anthropology 2 and Ethnography, Fundamentals: Ethnographic Theory and Fundamentals: Reading and Writing Anthropology. You will also choose between two and four additional courses, either related to your programme or from another academic area.

Year 3

You will study compulsory courses including: Anthropological Theory, Kinship, Ritual & Religion and Consumption, Exchange & Technology. You will also choose two courses from a range such as Magic, Science & Healing, The Anthropology of Latin America and The Anthropology of Happiness. You will also have the opportunity to conduct your own research in the summer break between Years 3 and 4. Your dissertation supervisor will help you to plan and develop your research project which can take place in the UK or overseas.

Year 4

You will study the compulsory course Culture & Power. You will also use your research findings to complete an honours dissertation, and continue to choose option courses.

Are there additional costs?

Fieldwork may be required, depending on your choice of dissertation topic. Some additional costs may be associated with this fieldwork.

Our facilities

Most of the teaching takes place at facilities located within the University's Central Area. You will also have access to the University library and computer facilities.

Study abroad

In addition to your research project, which may be based overseas, there are opportunities to study abroad through the University's international exchange programme.

How will I learn?

You will be taught through a combination of lectures and tutorials and will receive supervision with your research project.

How will I be assessed?

The course is assessed through exams, coursework and project work.

Previous graduates have chosen careers in social development, healthcare, journalism and film. Some have gained employment with international organisations such as Oxfam.

A growing number are continuing with postgraduate study in anthropology, leading to careers as anthropological researchers with universities, public bodies like the NHS, or private sector companies.