ARCH10150 Anthropology: an introduction

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module provides an introduction to the discipline of anthropology - the study of humans and human diversity in the present and the past. Anthropology examines the diversity of human societies and cultures across space and time. Anthropology is an interdisciplinary subject, sometimes divided into ‘four fields’: cultural/social anthropology, physical anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and archaeology. This module will provide students with an overview of anthropology, with a particular focus on cultural/social anthropology. We will examine how the body, kinship, gift exchange, and the home are understood in different societies and how they give shape to those societies. We will compare different ways of understanding the world and what it means to be human, and ask what it means to think anthropologically.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module, you will be able to:

- Write an essay demonstrating awareness of key anthropological concepts
- Demonstrate knowledge of some key anthropological facts
- Demonstrate awareness of diversity of human cultures
- Understand key features in the discipline of anthropology

Indicative Module Content:

Week 1: What is anthropology? Key concepts, key debates
Week 2: The story of human evolution
Week 3: The body
Week 4: Inequality
Week 5: Exchange
Week 6: Social organization
Week 7: Hunter-gatherers
Week 8: Ritual and symbolism
Week 9: Relationships and identity
Week 10: House and home

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning








Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
- Lectures supported by tutorials

- Fortnightly on-line MCQs based on lecture content

- Initial assessment reviewing what different core texts say about one key anthropological concept

- Final assignment writing academic essay about this topic 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Continuous Assessment: Book review. Comparing and contrasting what 2 of the core texts say about a selection of key anthropological concepts. (750 words) Week 6 n/a Graded No


Essay: Final Essay (2000 words) Week 12 n/a Graded No


Multiple Choice Questionnaire: Fortnightly online MCQ's (10 questions per test) Throughout the Trimester n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Online automated feedback

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will benefit from immediate feedback on the MCQs, providing a baseline for their performance Students will receive individual feedback on the first assignment. This will include clarification of the level of understanding of the key concept chosen, which will feed into final assessment. Final assessment feedback will focus on the construction of a formal university essay.

Core texts:
Eriksen T. (2015) Small Places, Large Issues. An introduction to social and cultural anthropology (4th edition). London, Pluto Books (available as a ebook through UCD library)
Ingold T. (2018) Anthropology: why it matters. Cambridge, Polity

UCD library has e-access to two very useful Encyclopaedias, which contain many reviews of different aspects of anthropology. Brightspace has links to the on-line versions. Be sure to reference the individual sections appropriately

Wright, J D. (Ed.) 2015 International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Second Edition), Oxford, Elsevier.
Darity, WA. (Ed.) 2008 International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 2nd ed., Macmillan Reference USA

Supplementary reading:
There’s a lot of good introductory texts available. The two below are both good, and very different, introductions which I will be drawing on in the course. Hendry & Underdown is admirably short (almost too short!), and Callan et al is a synthesis of key texts.

Callan H., Street B., Underdown S. (eds) (2013) Introductory Readings in Anthropology. Oxford, Berghahn/Royal Anthropological Institute
Hendry J., Underdown S. (2012) Anthropology: A Beginner's Guide. London, Oneworld

Name Role
Dr Jess Beck Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Professor Joanna Bruck Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Meriel McClatchie Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Professor Graeme Warren Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Marc Morris Tutor
Grace Rinehart Tutor
Eleanor Meghan Swallow Tutor
Eleanor Swallow Tutor