The University of Kent boasts one of the UK's largest groups of Anthropology lecturers. Each specialises in at least one geographical region and a number of fascinating research topics. This means that you gain an unusually diverse range of module choices, covering the usual core topics such as the study of politics and religion, but also more specialist or practical modules that help you to prepare for life after graduation.
Social Anthropology was established at the University of Kent in 1965 and is one of the longest-running programmes in the United Kingdom. Kent plays an important role in pioneering new and innovative approaches to contemporary anthropology and our exciting range of expertise reaches across all regions of the globe. It is through drawing directly on this wealth of experience that we deliver a dynamic Social Anthropology programme.
Our degree programme
You learn to understand and address the challenges of our time and are given skills to contribute to society in a wide range of exciting careers after you graduate.
Regional expertise and cultural literacy. Social Anthropology is the social science that specialises in cultural diversity. In no other subject will you have the opportunity to study so many different cultures. You may develop your cultural literacy further by taking one of our Year Abroad programmes (see below).Understanding changing values and identity. Rapidly changing values and identities present one of the greatest areas of challenge for the world today—as well as exciting opportunities. Studying Social Anthropology at Kent provides you with opportunities to learn more about how these changes are affecting people in different societies and how social scientists have tried to understand them. Understanding the impacts of the planetary crisis. One of the biggest changes in the social sciences in the past ten years has been the growing interest in the relationship between human beings and their environment. You have the opportunity to study this relationship with researchers who are at the forefront of this trend. Ethnographic research skills. Across your degree programme, you have the opportunity to choose modules that offer training in ethnographic methods, including the possibility of undertaking your own research under the supervision of our expert staff, and writing a dissertation about your research in your final year. Using your creativity. You are trained to use your creativity to produce vivid accounts of social life. Most of these will be in writing, but you have the opportunity to choose modules that focus on other media, for example, by producing your own short documentary film.
You acquire these skills by taking a combination of compulsory core modules and a number of optional modules that you choose from a wide range.
In the first year, you take core modules that give you a broad background in the subject. The core modules in the second and final year of the programme cover the anthropology of politics, religion and economics, and introduce you to some advanced topics in social theory. These core modules also give you an understanding of the distinctive research method of Social Anthropology: ethnographic research.
In each year you have the opportunity to pursue your own interests by choosing from a wide range of optional modules. These teach you more about specialist areas and develop corresponding skills. Some modules cover thematic issues, such as the anthropology of law or the anthropology of business. Others focus on particular regions of the world, such as China, Europe, South East Asia and Amazonia. You take at least two regional modules during the programme.
Studying Social Anthropology abroad for a year as part of your degree programme allows you to take your cultural expertise to the next level. You either study in English (Social Anthropology with a Year Abroad) or in the local language (Social Anthropology with French / German / Spanish / Italian). In recent years, our students have spent a year at our partner universities in countries including Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, as well as France, Spain and Italy.
You don't need to make your mind up about studying abroad before you enrol at Kent, but certain conditions apply. See Social Anthropology with French / German / Spanish / Italian.
Year in professional practice
If you have specific ideas about how you would like your career to develop, you may be able to expand your degree into a four-year programme by adding a work placement between the second and final years.
You don’t have to make a decision before you enrol at Kent, but certain conditions apply. See Social Anthropology with a Year in Professional Practice.
Students studying BA Social Anthropology at the University of Kent enjoy world-class study resources including:
a recently renovated and expanded library with up-to-date collections, access to top journals, plenty of comfortable spaces providing for quiet individual work or group workwell equipped lecture and seminar rooms with integrated audio-visual technologya state-of-the-art visual anthropology room with a suite of computers equipped for editing film and cameras made available for student usean ethnobiology lab for studying human-related plant materiala teaching laboratory with first-rate equipmentfor students interested in taking Biological Anthropology we have an excellent fossil cast collection with hundreds of casts, including multiple entire skeletons of extant and extinct primates and hominins.
The University of Kent has an active Anthropology Society run by the students, which you are encouraged to join, as well as a wealth of other student clubs and associations to enjoy.
The School of Anthropology and Conservation puts on many events that you are welcome to attend. We host two public lectures a year, the Stirling Lecture and the DICE Lecture, which bring current ideas in anthropology and conservation to a wider audience. We are delighted that these events attract leading anthropological figures from around the world; in 2017 we hosted paleoanthropologist Professor Lee Berger, one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people.
Each term, there are also seminars and workshops discussing current research in anthropology, conservation and human ecology.
In the Government's recent Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) assessment of teaching at UK universities, Kent was awarded a Gold rating. Based on the evidence available, the TEF panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.
Our teaching is research-led as all our staff are active in their fields. Social Anthropology staff have been awarded national teaching awards, reflecting the quality of the undergraduate programmes. Social Anthropology at Kent uses a stimulating mix of teaching methods, including lectures, small seminar groups, field trips and practical sessions. For project work, you are assigned to a supervisor with whom you meet regularly.
Assessment varies according to module and to some extent you are able to choose your modules in order to maximise your preferred form of assessment. Some modules include a mix of an exam and coursework, many are 100% coursework based. We try to make coursework assessments varied in order to make the most of each student's unique strengths: some are essay based, others may involve project work or presentations.
A number of our modules include opportunities for learning and experiences outside of the classroom through field trips in the UK and abroad. Potential excursions are:
- Paris, the Musée du quai Branly and Musée de l'Homme
- The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge
- Fo Guang Buddhist Temple, London
- City of London financial district
- Impact Hub Islington
- Canterbury Cathedral
These may change from year to year and may incur additional costs. See the funding tab for more information.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- social anthropology as the comparative study of human societies
- specific themes in social anthropology, such as religion, politics, kinship, nationalism and ethnicity
- human diversity and an appreciation of its scope
- several ethnographic regions of the world including Central Asia, the Mediterranean, Amazonia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific
- the history of anthropology as a discipline
- the variety of theoretical approaches contained within anthropology
- the process of historical and social change
- the application of anthropology to understanding issues of social and economic development throughout the world
- the relevance of anthropology to understanding everyday processes of social life anywhere in the world.
You develop intellectual skills in:
- general learning and study
- critical and analytical abilities
- expressing ideas in writing and orally
- group work
- the ability to review and summarise information
- data retrieval.
You gain the following subject-specific:
- understanding how people are shaped by their social, cultural and physical environments while retaining a capacity for individual agency
- recognising the pertinence of an anthropological perspective to understanding major national and international events
- interpreting texts and performance by locating them within cultural and historical contexts
- using anthropological theories and perspectives in the presentation of information and argument
- analysing the significance of the social and cultural contexts of language use
- devising questions for research and study which are anthropologically informed
- perceiving the way in which cultural assumptions may affect the opinions of others and oneself
- the ability to make sense of cultural and social phenomena which may, at first sight, appear incomprehensible.
You gain the following transferable skills:
- information retrieval skills in relation to primary and secondary sources of information.
- communication and presentation skills (using oral and written materials and information technology).
- time planning and management skills.
- ability to engage in constructive discussion in group situations and group work skills.
The programme aims to:
- provide a broad knowledge in the major sub-divisions of anthropology, showing how it is linked to other academic disciplines
- explore theoretical and methodological issues
- demonstrate the relevance of anthropological knowledge to an understanding of many local, national and international issues
- ensure that the research by staff informs the design of modules, and their content and delivery in a manner that is efficient, reliable and enjoyable to students
- prepare graduates for employment and/or further study in their chosen careers through developing students’ transferable skills.