Introduction

Anthropology at Aberdeen is a wide and fascinating exploration of humankind and what it means to ‘be human’. You will study the differences in human cultures and societies and how they have developed across the world. The programme has a special focus on the northern polar countries and their links to north east Scotland. Our programme is a brilliant foundation for many careers and scores 100% satisfaction with students.

Anthropology at Aberdeen is ranked 10th in the UK and 2nd in Scotland by the Complete University Guide 2022.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
MA
Duration
48 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
September
UCAS Code
L600
Pathway Programme Available
Undergraduate Foundation Programme
Degree marketing image

Anthropologists explore the biological and social features that make us human to gain a deeper understanding of the cultural and ethnic differences in our beliefs and perspectives. At Aberdeen, we explore this subject in a wide social, political and economic context.

You will gain a unique insight into the behaviour, beliefs and attitudes of societies all over the world, finding connections between aspects of life such as family, economics, politics and religion and themes including ethnicity and nationalism.

You will be inspired by teachers and researchers who are international leaders in their fields and you will take advantage of Aberdeen being an international research centre for studying the northern Arctic peoples from Russian and the Nordic and Baltic countries, as well as people from Iceland, Greenland, Canada and Alaska.

The skills you will develop in critical thinking and analysis will give you a deep knowledge and understanding of human behaviour, which can be applied in business and many other fields. Many of our graduates now work in research, teaching, media, politics, or in business or public sector organisations in a host of roles with international and cultural contexts.

You will enjoy a special, warm welcome at the University of Aberdeen and benefit from excellent teaching, the international impact of our research and a global experience, all within our friendly and vibrant international community. You will love our beautiful campus and great facilities for learning, sports and leisure and our many opportunities to develop extra skills, broaden your horizons and gain the competitive advantage in the career path you choose.

Anthropology is also available as a joint degree along with a range of other subjects that you can find here.

What You'll Study

Anthropology is a diverse field of study that will provide you with unique insights into the differences in human behaviour from a cross-cultural perspective. You'll learn about the beliefs and attitudes of societies all over the world and will study themes such as ethnicity and nationalism, anthropological approaches to religion, colonialism, society, nature and morality. This programme is taught through a selection of compulsory and optional courses adding up to 120 credits each year.

Year 1

Year 1

Compulsory Courses
Academic Writing for Social Sciences (AW1006)

This compulsory evaluation is designed to find out if your academic writing is of a sufficient standard to enable you to succeed at university and, if you need it, to provide support to improve. It is completed on-line via MyAberdeen with clear instructions to guide you through it. If you pass the evaluation at the first assessment it will not take much of your time. If you do not, you will be provided with resources to help you improve. This evaluation does not carry credits but if you do not complete it this will be recorded on your degree transcript.

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Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD1002)

This course, which is prescribed for level 1 undergraduate students (and articulating students who are in their first year at the University), is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.

Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.

Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.

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Introduction to Anthropology: Peoples of the World (AT1003)

15 Credit Points

Anthropology is the comparative study of human ways of life through the study of societies and cultures around the world. In this course we introduce some of the key topics of contemporary anthropological inquiry: What is Anthropology? What do anthropologists do? What is ethnography? How can we see the diverse world of societies and cultures around us, not by looking from the outside, but by looking at how people themselves make their own lives and meanings?

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Introduction to Anthropology: Questions of Diversity (AT1502)

15 Credit Points

In this course students will be offered an extended introduction to social anthropology and will focus on topics: language and culture, belief and religion, gender and sex, kinship, and race. Students will develop and refine their understanding of major issues in the discipline of social anthropology through staff lectures, tutorials, and ethnographic films.

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Optional Courses

Select a further 90 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 2

Year 2

Compulsory Courses
Key Debates in Anthropology (AT2010)

30 Credit Points

This course explores some of the key questions that anthropologists have debated: what it is to be human, the nature of human interaction with other humans, with non-humans, and with the environment, and the different ways that people perceive the world and act within it. Themes that will be discussed in this course include the category of the person, morality and ethics, art and aesthetics, what is power, how to engage with Otherness, and how anthropologists engage actively, outside academia, in development, health, or business.

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Reimagining Colonialism (AT2515)

30 Credit Points

This course will explore contemporary colonial expressions from an anthropological perspective. It will be split into two main themes: Material Histories; and Mediated Histories. Within these themes it will address topics such as the "capturing" of cultures in museums, kinship and politics, gendered colonialism, economic development, media, aboriginal rights and contemporary resistance movements.

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Optional Courses

Select a further 60 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 3

Year 3

Compulsory Courses
Anthropological Theory (AT3027)

30 Credit Points

This course explores theoretical issues and key debates in contemporary anthropology. We begin with the questioning of the central concepts of culture and society in anthropology during the 1980s. Following this, we ask: how can anthropology proceed if the targets of its investigation can no longer be understood as objective entities? How can anthropology proceed if the anthropologist themselves is inevitably implicated in and part of those very targets? To look for possible answers, the course examines current anthropological interest in power and history, political economy and phenomenology, experience, embodiment and practice, ontology and things that speak.

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Research Project Part 1 (AT3529)

15 Credit Points

It will introduce students to the necessary skills required for carrying out an undergraduate level research project in anthropology, and is an essential prelude to the dissertation. In it, students will identify a research project of their choice, and will be guided through the necessary steps and skills required for the production of a 4000 word project proposal.

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Doing Anthropological Research (AT3035)

30 Credit Points

This course aims to acquaint students with the practical, methodological and theoretical issues associated with anthropological research. It examines critically different methodological approaches and the relation between fieldwork experiences and ethnographic production. The course is run through a series of student-led seminars with guest anthropologists, tutorials and workshops which involve practical activities. Issues covered include preparation for fieldwork, framing research questions, collecting ethnographic data and presenting ethnographic interpretations. An important part of the assessment is a small individual research project chosen, designed and carried out by the student.

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Ethnography (AT3537)

30 Credit Points

What is ethnographic writing and how do we learn to write ethnographically? This course seeks to familiarise students with the craft of ethnographic writing through a series of lectures, seminars, reading and writing exercises.

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Optional Courses

Select a further 30 credit points from level 3 Anthropology courses of choice.

Society and Nature (AT3522)

15 Credit Points

Through a series of lectures and a mix of tutor and student led tutorials, this course will interrogate the division between society and nature. We will examine where the division came from, how it informs many understandings of humans and the environment, and whether we would be better off disposing of it altogether. Examples of the impact of this construction will be provided but students will be encouraged and expected to seek out their own and to do their own research which will then be brought back to the course through lively tutorial discussions resulting in peer and tutor feedback.

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Emotion, Self and Society (AT3526)

15 Credit Points

This course addresses the anthropological study of emotion and self. It covers the different theoretical approaches to emotion, self and subjectivity. The broad questions addressed revolve around the cultural construction of emotion and self, and the entanglement of psychodynamic processes and power in the formation of the subject. The topics covered include anger and fear, grief and compassion, personhood, technologies of self and subjectification, identification and melancholia.

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Religion, Power and Belief (AT3534)

15 Credit Points

What is religion? What does ritual do? Does ritual have effects, in the persons performing them, in society, or the world? How might ritual be a means or medium for political action? This course is an ethnographically grounded discussion of how anthropologists have addressed the concept of religion, the interface of religion and power, and is a critical interrogation the concept of belief.

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Year 4

Year 4

Compulsory Courses
Research Project - Part 2 (AT4037)

30 Credit Points

This course will build on the initial research design students built during Research Project Part 1 towards their undergraduate research project in anthropology.

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Optional Courses

Plus, select a further 60 credit points from level 4 Anthropology courses of choice, and a further 30 credit points from level 3 or 4 courses of choice

Anthropology, Museums and Society (AT403A)

30 Credit Points

This course is organised around a series of seminars and visits to selected museums. The course is divided into two parts. The first addresses approaches in anthropology to the meanings of artefacts; the second considers contemporary curatorial practice. Assessment is based on an artefact study, which will involve original research utilising the collections of the University of Aberdeen, and an essay in which students reflect upon the course as a whole.

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Anthropology of the North (AT4044)

30 Credit Points

Through a series of lectures and a mix of tutor and student led tutorials, this course focuses on the sometimes difficult history of anthropology and the circumpolar north. Misconceptions (sometimes intentionally created) about the people who live there and their relationships to the environment have informed both state policy and anthropological theory and now is the time for a new anthropology of the north to set the record straight. Students will be encouraged and expected to do their own research on topics of their own choosing and bring these insights back to the course through lively tutorial discussions.

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Anthropology and Art: on Place, Landscape and Materials (AT4046)

30 Credit Points

Anthropology and art have much to offer each other. Taking historical and contemporary perspectives, students in this course will debate the cultural significance of art and the nature of creativity. We will focus particularly on questions of place, landscape and materials through a combined art-anthropology approach. The course will use the University of Aberdeen’s own art and ethnographic collections, and we will also work with Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen.

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The Constitutional Imagination (AT4525)

30 Credit Points

This course will examine anthropological theories of the state, political organization and violence. Through an analysis of both modern and historical case studies from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, we will critically examine theories of state of modern and non-modern state formation and organisation, and the nexus of religion and colonial history. In the second half of the course, particular attention will we paid to the ethnography of violence as a mode of state and proto-state political action.

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Roads, Mobility, Movement, Migration (AT4526)

30 Credit Points

In this course students will be introduced to the topical themes in contemporary anthropology: roads, automobility, car cultures, migration, road narratives, and roads in film and literature. The course is based on the notions of movement and mobility and will incorporate the ethnographic material from the North, including Scotland and Siberia. During the course students will conduct their own research on the road of their choice. The course includes: a fieldwork element, screenings of documentary films about roads, and weekly student-led discussions.

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More Than Human (AT4538)

30 Credit Points

This course explores new directions in how we think about humans and other species.

Recent years have seen an upsurge in interest in how the social sciences and humanities deal with animals, plants and other organisms and we scrutinise these cutting edge ideas in depth. A lot of emphasis is placed on trying to think through real life encounters and issues, from a walk in the park to new revelations about life from the bottom of the ocean. Although the focus is on anthropological work, the course should appeal to students from a wide range of backgrounds.

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The Political Anthropology of Indigenous Rights (AT4547)

30 Credit Points

Indigeneity is one of the more controversial relations created by globalisation. Widely criticised for being ‘essentialist’ and ‘anti-liberal’, it is one of the more quickly growing identities recognized by the United Nations and defended in the constitutions of many nation-states. Using anthropological insight, this course survey the history of the term, study its expansion from the ‘salt-water colonies’ and ‘settler states’ to the heartland of Europe, and explore some of the challenges and advantages of the term. The seminar will explore how the term has come to be used in different post-colonial situations from the classic “heartlands” if indigeneity in North America, Latin America, and Northern Fennoscandia, to new contexts in China, India, Africa. The course will also explore how the politics of aboriginal rights has become closely linked to struggles for recognition, environmentalism, and collective struggles against neo-liberalism. The course is run in a seminar format with students encouraged to weigh and evaluate the results of their reading.

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We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

The Anthropology programme combines a flexible combination of lectures, small-group seminars and personal supervision of individual project work.

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • Coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course
  • Practical assessments of the skills and competencies they learn on the course
  • Written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, years of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study Anthropology?

  • Anthropology at Aberdeen is ranked 4th in the UK in the Guardian University Guide 2020
  • You will gain a deep knowledge and understanding of human behaviour, which can be applied in business and many other fields.
  • The University approaches the study of anthropology from an international perspective, meaning you will have unique insights into the infrastructure of companies from other countries and cultures.
  • The social, political and economic context in which you will study anthropology at Aberdeen will provide you with a cross-cultural understanding of how current affairs are perceived by international businesses.
  • The critical thinking and analysis skills that you develop will enable you to work with a diverse range of people in a variety of international and cultural contexts.
  • At Aberdeen, our teaching is research-led, so you will have unique insights into the subject based on research carried out by staff and postgraduate students.
  • A particular strength of our Anthropology programme at Aberdeen is our focus on the study of the circumpolar North. Our core staff also specialise in the study of regions as diverse as Canada, the Central Asian Republics, Iceland and Scandinavia, Siberia, Scotland and the UK, South America, Tibet and the Himalayas.
  • You will benefit from the University's close links with other programmes such as Sociology, Politics, International Relations and Archaeology.
  • As an Anthropology student, you will have access to the University’s extensive anthropological and ethnographic museum collections.

Entry Requirements

Qualifications

The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.


General Entry Requirements

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

A LEVELS

Standard: BBB

Minimum: BBC

Adjusted: CCC

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see www.abdn.ac.uk/study/articulation for more details.

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

A LEVELS

Standard: BBB

Minimum: BBC

Adjusted: CCC

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see www.abdn.ac.uk/study/articulation for more details.

The information displayed in this section shows a shortened summary of our entry requirements. For more information, or for full entry requirements for Arts and Social Sciences degrees, see our detailed entry requirements section.


English Language Requirements

To study for an Undergraduate degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.0 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0

TOEFL iBT:

OVERALL - 78 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 59 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 169 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

International Applicants who do not meet the Entry Requirements

The University of Aberdeen International Study Centre offers preparation programmes for international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements for undergraduate study. Discover your foundation pathway here.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
RUK £9,250
Students Admitted in 2021/22
EU / International students £18,000
Students Admitted in 2021/22
Home Students £1,820
Students Admitted in 2021/22

Scholarships and Funding

Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who pay tuition fees may be eligible for specific scholarships allowing them to receive additional funding. These are designed to provide assistance to help students support themselves during their time at Aberdeen.

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Undergraduate EU Scholarship

The Aberdeen Global Undergraduate Scholarship is open to European Union (EU) students.

This is an £8,000 tuition fee discount available to eligible self-funded Undergraduate students who would have previously been eligible for Home (Scottish/EU) fee status.

View Undergraduate EU Scholarship

Careers

The critical thinking and analysis skills that you develop from studying Anthropology at Aberdeen will enable you to work with people in a variety of cultural contexts. Many of our graduates now work in research, teaching, media and politics for private and public sector organisations. Alongside support from the University Careers and Employability Service, the valuable skills you will learn at Aberdeen will give you a competitive advantage in the career marketplace.

Career Opportunities

  • Charity Fundraiser
  • Curriculum Developer
  • Employment Support Worker
  • Graduate Trainee Relocation Adviser
  • Junior Lecturer
  • Marketing Officer
  • Publicity Officer
  • Recruitment Consultant
  • Youth Worker

Our Experts

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

World Class Facilities

This programme is delivered by a team of experienced staff and as such, the Anthropology department at Aberdeen is one of the fastest-growing in the UK. By studying Anthropology at Aberdeen, you will benefit from having access to staff and researchers who are Key Opinion Leaders. You will be taught by people who have experience working in anthropological fields and will gain valuable insight into how current issues are perceived by different cultures.

Discover Uni

Discover Uni draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. You can compare these and other data for different degree programmes in which you are interested.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Address
Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
Aberdeen
AB24 3FX