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Anthropology

About the major

Anthropology is the holistic study of humanity. Social and cultural anthropologists document and analyse cultural and social contexts using ethnographic research methods. This involves immersion in the everyday lives of the people we wish to understand. Often, anthropologists work with people who differ from ourselves in language, location and lifeways, but many anthropologists also work “at home”. We seek to understand the values, unexamined assumptions, and relationships that structure lives as lived. We then compare across contexts to understand what it is that people generally hold in common and the scope of human diversity. Ethnographic contextualization combined with comparison enables new insights into major issues like gender, race, religion, environmental sustainability, health, inequality, and cultural difference. Through anthropology, you will appreciate that any given way of life is but one among many.
You will learn core methods and theories of social and cultural analysis and gain the tools to analyse how your own social and cultural setting shapes your understanding of yourself and others.
Key research and teaching areas include:

  • the study of human-environment relations, especially climate change;
  • the study of political and economic power and their alternatives in particular places and societies;
  • the study of how health, wellbeing and humanitarian development are experienced and the culturally specific ways in which people deal with life and death, freedom and unfreedom, peace and violence, or wealth and poverty;
  • the ethnography of Southeast Asia, Indigenous Australia, Latin America, and Melanesia;
  • the study of the history, theories and methods of anthropology and the social sciences more generally.

Graduates with a major in anthropology will have a sophisticated understanding of social and cultural difference in a globalised world, and the capacity to analyse cross-cultural settings. These are important skills for employment in a wide range of public, private, and non-profit organisations.

Requirements for completion

The Anthropology major and minor requirements are listed in the Anthropology unit of study table.

Advanced Coursework

Requirements and units of study for advanced coursework can be found on the advanced coursework units of study.

Honours

Anthropology Honours provides you with the opportunity to research in greater detail a region of the world or comparative theme. In your first semester you will do two seminar-based units that cap off your training in foundational debates in the discipline. You will also begin work with a supervisor on research towards a 20,000-word thesis. The supervisor will support your formulation of a research problem and identification of the literature and empirical material required to address it. In cooperation with your fellow honours students, and supported by a workshop you will develop and extend the skills you learned throughout your degree. Most importantly you will gain the intellectual satisfaction of developing and completing your own project and of turning anthropology to your own purposes.

Honours admission requirements:

Admission to Honours is via the Bachelor of Advanced Studies or the Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and requires the completion of a major in Anthropology with an average of 70 percent or above. 

Prior to commencing Honours, you will need to ensure you have completed all other requirements of the Bachelor of Arts or other bachelor degree, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units and, where the Bachelor of Advanced Studies is being undertaken, a second major.

Requirements and units of study for honours can be found on the Anthropology honours units of study page.

Contacts and further information

Website: Discipline of Anthropology
Contact: ssps.enquiries@sydney.edu.au