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Last modified: 28 Jun 2018 10:27

Course Overview

How do human beings relate to one another at a communal level? What holds human societies together? This course examines the basic forms of human solidarity that anthropologists have identified that bind us together as people: race, class, ethnicity, kinship, gender. In each case, these core ideas will be examined not just as descriptions of social life, but as forms of power and identity. The course introduces students to what these terms mean, how they have been used in understanding human societies, and what they look like in a cross-cultural context.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 2
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Dr Martin Mills

Qualification Prerequisites


What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Either AT1501 Introduction to Anthropology 2 (Passed) or AT1502 Introduction to Anthropology: Questions of Diversity (Passed)
  • AT1003 Introduction to Anthropology: Peoples of the World (Passed)
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • Either Programme Level 1 or Programme Level 2

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • AT2003 Understanding Social Relations (Studied)

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

Political Anthropology will introduce students to the systematic study of forms of human solidarity, identity and power, which act as the basis for almost all study of human culture. At the heart of these are those basic social categories that are seen to link people together, either on the grounds of similarity or on the basis of closeness: race, class, ethnicity, kinship and gender. These categories have become the basis of some of the most influential theories in the social and political sciences, theories that have also, in their time, dominated popular and media understandings of the world. In this course, students are introduced to the critical study of these theories, and how they have been applied to societies and cultures across the world. A particular emphasis of this course lies not simply in how well such categories describe simple groupings of people, but also how they act as the basis for social and political power. These systems of solidarity, identity and power will be looked at through the lens of ethnographic case studies from across the world, from Gypsy communities and trade unions in the UK, to the Swat Pathan of Afghanistan, the Nuer of Southern Sudan and the Rwandan Genocide.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: 1 two-hour written examination (50%). In-course assessment (50%). Resit: 1 two-hour written examination (100%).

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.


Written feedback will be provided for continuous assessment work. This will normally be provided within three weeks of the submission date. Oral feedback on class presentations will also be provided where appropriate.

Course Learning Outcomes


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