Undergraduate study - 2020 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2019/2020

MA Honours Social Anthropology with Social Policy

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: The University of Edinburgh
Programme accredited by: N/A
Final award: MA Honours
Programme title: Social Anthropology with Social Policy
UCAS code: LL64
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s): Anthropology
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: Dr Magnus Course
Date of production/revision: August 2001 / March 2004/May 2007/August 2011/May2012

External summary

Social anthropology is the comparative study of human behaviour and ideas in their social contexts. Societies around the world vary enormously in their social, cultural, religious, and political forms, and their individual members also display a corresponding diversity of ideas and behaviour. The study of these variations, and the common humanity that underlies them and renders them intelligible to sympathetic outsiders lies at the heart of social anthropology. Much of this knowledge is gained through the distinctive method of ‘participant observation’, which often involves anthropologists living with the people they are researching and sharing their experiences for extended periods. While the subject matter overlaps with that of sociology, human geography, and development studies, social anthropology is also closely linked to history and philosophy. At Edinburgh students will have the opportunity to learn from researchers who are international leaders in their field, and will also engage in original anthropological research, which may be library based or involve fieldwork.

Educational aims of programme

The programme aims to develop:

  • a broad knowledge of the major fields of study in social and cultural anthropology;
  • substantive knowledge of a range of social and cultural  contexts, institutions, processes and ideas;
  • the ability to understand, evaluate and use a range of theoretical frameworks in the study of social and cultural anthropology;
  • the capacity to develop research proposals, and to carry out and and write up an independent research project within an achievable time frame
  • the capacity to apply knowledge and skills to the understanding and evaluation of issues and problems in the contemporary world;
  • key generic skills in critical thinking and oral and written communication of information and argument;

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

On completing the programme students should be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding  of different social and cultural contexts, institutions, processes and ideas;
  • evaluate alternative explanations of particular social contexts, processes, and events;
  • demonstrate awareness of different theoretical, conceptual , and key methodological approaches used in anthropological analysis;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the social and historical processes that influence the objects of anthropological study;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the methods and value of cross cultural comparative analysis;
  • demonstrate an ability to comprehend, evaluate and communicate ethnographic information;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the nature of explanation and interpretation in social anthropology and nature of evidence in such accounts;
  • demonstrate an alertness to the potential applications of anthropological knowledge, and their ethical implications in a variety of contexts.

How is this accomplished?

  • compulsory and optional elements in the curriculum ensure coverage of a different cultural contexts, social institutions, processes and ideas;
  • lectures, lecture hand-outs, seminar programmes and presentations are the key channels for dissemination of knowledge and guidance to further reading/research;
  • content and assessment of compulsory courses ensure knowledge and critical engagement with a range of theoretical approaches and thematic areas in social and cultural anthropology;
  • essay and examination questions require independent reading and research beyond that provided in     the classroom;
  • essay and examination questions in both compulsory and optional courses require evaluation and application of alternative perspectives on/ explanations of social and cultural phenomena;
  • seminar assignments and debates in both compulsory and optional courses encourage students to identify and evaluate a range of explanations and interpretations in social anthropology and the nature of evidence in such accounts;
  • the design and execution of the dissertation project encourages practical engagement  with the nature of anthropological fieldwork, ethical issues involved in conducting research, and representation.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

Joint Honours graduates in Social Anthropology will be able to create new knowledge and opportunities for learning through the process of research and enquiry, including the abilities to:

  • apply different theories to the interpretation and explanation of human conduct and patterns of behaviour;
  • recognise and account for the use of such theories by others;
  • judge the value and relevance of empirical evidence and theoretical argument and interpretation in social science;
  • identify and design ways of solving problems with a social and cultural dimension;
  • question cultural assumptions;
  • interpret and analyse a variety of textual, oral and visual forms.;
  • discuss ideas and interpretations with others in a clear and reasoned way.;
  • apply anthropological knowledge to a variety of situations;
  • plan and execute a research-based dissertation or project;
  • assess the ethical  implications of anthropological research and enquiry.

In addition to the above, these will be accomplished through:

  • guidance on literature searching and web-based information sources in lectures and seminars;
  • specific assessed tasks in compulsory courses (e.g. textual analysis, production of research proposal
  • requirements for seminar exercises and projects in ordinary and Honours courses - peer and tutor feedback
  • production, supervision and assessment of dissertations.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

Joint Honours graduates in Social Anthropology will be able to work independently and sustainably, in a way that is informed by openness, curiosity, and a desire to meet new challenges, including the abilities and dispositions to:

  • be independent learners who take responsibility for their own learning and are committed to continuous reflection, self-evaluation and self-improvement
  • be able to sustain intellectual interest by remaining receptive to both new and old ideas, methods, and ways of thinking
  • be able to make decisions on the basis of rigorous and independent thought, taking into account ethical and professional issues
  • be able to use collaboration and debate effectively to test, modify and strengthen their own views
  • be able to respond effectively to unfamiliar problems in unfamiliar contexts
  • have a personal vision and goals and be able to work towards these in a sustainable way

In addition to the above, these will be accomplished through:

  • the requirements for completing written and oral coursework assignments independently
  • the requirements for planning dissertation research, including writing a proposal, completing an ethical assessment of  research plans, and carrying out independent library-based or ethnographic research within a given time frame.
  • team-based and collaborative assignments for coursework

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

Joint Honours graduates in Social Anthropology will recognise and value communication as the tool for negotiating and creating new understanding, collaborating with others, and furthering their own learning, including the abilities to:

  • make effective use of oral, written and visual means to critique, negotiate, create and communicate understanding
  • use communication as a tool for collaborating and relating to others
  • further their own learning through effective use of the full range of communication approaches
  • seek and value open feedback to inform genuine self-awareness
  • recognise the benefits of communicating with those beyond their immediate environments
  • use effective communication to articulate their skills as identified through self reflection

In addition to the above, these will be accomplished through:

  • requirements for and feedback on individual and group oral presentations in seminars;
  • requirements for and feedback on group work for seminars;
  • requirements for design, execution, and feedback for dissertations.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

Joint Honours graduates in Social Anthropology will be able to effect change and be responsive to the situations and environments in which they operate, including the abilities to:

  • make constructive use of social analysis skills in personal, professional, and community life
  • apply understanding of social risks, in relation to diverse stakeholders, while initiating and managing change
  • be both adaptive and proactively responsive to changing social contexts
  • have the confidence to make decisions based on their understandings and their personal and intellectual autonomy
  • transfer their knowledge, learning, skills and abilities from one context to another
  • understand and act on social, cultural, global and environmental responsibilities, and help others to do the same
  • be able to work effectively with others, capitalising on their different thinking, experience and skills
  • understand and promote effectively the values of diversity and equity, while also recognizing possible trade-offs between these

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

N/A

Programme structure and features

Joint Degree Programme Structure

Social Anthropology with South Asian Studies (L6T5)

Social Anthropology and  Social History (LV63)

Social Anthropology and Social Policy (LL64)

Social Anthropology and Politics (LL62)

Most joint degrees aim for 50/50 split between Social Anthropology and the other discipline, but some allow for students to choose a 40/60 split. There are two models for joint degrees with Social Anthropology: so-called 'and' degrees and 'with' degrees:

  • The 'and' degree, for example, the MA (Honours) in Social Anthropology and Sociology, involves the Department of Social Anthropology with one other discipline represented by another department. In the case of 'and' degrees,  students must, in their first and second year in addition to social anthropology, take courses in the complementary discipline. In the case of Social Anthropology and Sociology the Imagining Research component and the  dissertation project are both taken in Social Anthropology.
  • The 'with' degrees are centred in the Department of Social Anthropology but students take a number of courses in other departments all of which address a different disciplinary  aspect of one particular theme.  For example, the MA Honours Social Anthropology with Politics involve students taking between three and five Honours courses falling within the field of politics.

For full list of structures of all Social Anthropology joint degree programmes please see:

http://www.drps.ed.ac.uk

Normal

year taken

Course

Schedules

Level

Credit

Total

1

Social Anthropology 1Ah: An Introduction

J

8

20

Social Anthropology 1Bh: The Practice of Social Anthropology

J

8

20

Further courses

A-Q

7/8

80

  Progression: students must pass all subjects      

2

Social Anthropology 2: Into the Field

J

8

20

Social and Political Enquiry 2

J

8

20

Social and Political Theory 2

J

8

20

Further courses

A-Q

7/8

60

Progression: A pass in six courses overall, including a mark of 50% or better in required courses.

3

One of:

  •      Kinship:  Structure and Process

J

10

20

  •      Ritual and Religion

J

10

20

  •      Anthropological Theory

J

10

20

  •      Consumption, Exchange, Technology

J

10

20

Courses in Social Anthropology1

J

10

20

Courses in joint subject

J or ?

10

40

Courses in Social Anthropology or joint subject

J or ?

10

40

IF taking the dissertation in Social Anthropology: Imagining Anthropological Research

J

10

0

 

Progression: End of semester degree examinations

Students with sufficient credits may exit at the end of Year 3 with BA Humanities and Social Science

     

4

One of:

  • Belief, Thought and Language

J

10

20

  • Culture and Power

J

10

20

  • Dissertation in Social Anthropology2 OR Joint Subject

J or ?

10

40

Courses in Social Anthropology1

J

10

20

Courses in Joint Subject

J or ?

10

40

Degree Classification: Based on performance across all 240 credits of  3rd and 4th years of the degree, assessed in the year they are taken.

Notes:

1. Students must take at least one and normally no more than two Regional Analysis courses (see Social Anthropology Honours Handbook for details)

2. If taking the Dissertation in Social Anthropology students are expected to use the summer vacation of their third year on research for their Dissertation

In order to progress to Honours, students must normally have achieved a mark of 50% or more in all required second-year courses.

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

Teaching and Learning strategies employed at the University of Edinburgh consist of a variety of different methods appropriate to the programme aims. The graduate attributes listed above are met through a teaching and learning framework (detailed below) which is appropriate to the level and content of the course.

Teaching and Learning Activities

In Years 1 and 2

Lectures

 Tutorials

 Problem based learning activities

 Peer group learning

One to one meetings with personal tutors

Group projects

In Years 3 and 4

Lectures

 Tutorials

 Problem based learning activities

 Peer group learning

One to one meetings with personal tutors

Group projects

Field work

Seminars

Teaching and learning workload

You will learn through a mixture of scheduled teaching and independent study. Some programmes also offer work placements.

At Edinburgh we use a range of teaching and learning methods including lectures, tutorials, practical laboratory sessions, technical workshops and studio critiques.

The typical workload for a student on this programme is outlined in the table below, however the actual time you spend on each type of activity will depend on what courses you choose to study.

The typical workload for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearTime in scheduled teaching (%)Time in independant study (%)Time on placement (%)
Year 119810
Year 217830
Year 314860
Year 411890

Assessment methods and strategies

Courses can be assessed by a diverse range of methods and often takes the form of formative work which provides the student with on-going feedback as well as summative assessment which is submitted for credit.

In Years 1 and 2

Class Tests

Reports

Oral Presentations

Group projects

Essays

Written Examination

In Years 3 and 4

Class Tests

Reports

Oral Presentations

Group projects

Essays

Written Examinations

Dissertations

Assessment method balance

You will be assessed through a variety of methods. These might include written or practical exams or coursework such as essays, projects, group work or presentations.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme are outlined below, however the balance between written exams, practical exams and coursework will vary depending on what courses you choose to study.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearAssessment by written exams (%)Assessment by practical exams (%)Assessment by coursework (%)
Year 160238
Year 210288
Year 312385
Year 400100

Career opportunities

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 agencies like the NHS, or private sector companies.

Other items

Honours Options in Social Anthropology (Not all options are available in any given year)

20 Credits

Regional Analysis:

  • East Central Africa
  • Politics of identity in South Asia
  • People and Land in South Asia
  • Middle East
  • Khoisan Southern Africa
  • Southeast Asia
  • Himalayan Societies
  • Indigenous Peoples of Lowland South America

Background to Contemporary Theory

Social Development

Anthropology of Death

Contemporary Hunter-Gatherers

Anthropology of Happiness

Anthropology of Food

Magic, Science, and Healing

The Invention of History

Human Origins