Social and cultural anthropology is the holistic study of humankind, both what we share in common (i.e., what is universal) and what is particular to different cultural groups. The discipline emphasises humans’ innate capacity to create culture, and the need for individuals to become part of a culture in order to thrive. Anthropology’s main research method is participant observation, which requires long-term immersion among different cultural groups. Anthropology participates in larger debates in the social sciences by contributing cross-cultural comparisons and generalisations.

In your first year you will be introduced to core methods and theories of cultural analysis, learn to appreciate how your own culture affects you, and how difference persists throughout history and in the contemporary world. Senior-intermediate and senior-advanced units focus on:

- area studies (China, Indigenous Australia, Latin America, Melanesia, Southeast Asia)
- cross-cultural comparison within one domain (e.g. economy, politics, health, religion, kinship and the family)
- topics where a cross-cultural perspective is important (e.g. gender, the body, psychology, language, communication and media)
- critical perspectives on pressing concerns (e.g. critique of racism, multiculturalism, development, the environment)
- the history, theories and methods of anthropology.

These units provide a comprehensive knowledge of anthropology, and for qualified students, a path into honours.

Study plan

A major in Anthropology requires at least 36 senior credit points from the unit of study table, including at least 6 credit points from units of study in each of the three subject areas (Regional, Thematic, and Theory and Method) and at least 6 credit points from 3000-level units of study.

Junior units of study (1000 level):
You complete two junior units of study: ANTH1001 Cultural Difference: An Introduction and ANTH1002 Anthropology and the Global.

Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level):
Senior units of study in Anthropology are divided into three areas: Regional, Thematic, and Theory and Method. You complete at least 6 senior credit points from units of study in each area.

- Regional - These units focus on key debates and concepts that characterise both the research of anthropologists in the region and of their contribution to broader debate in anthropology. They aim to build substantial ethnographic knowledge.
- Thematic - These units focus on major aspects of social life that are the basis of wider projects of comparison and generalisation.
- Theory and Method - These units explicitly focus on anthropological theory and methods.

Please refer to the departmental webpage for a full list of units of study for each area.

You also complete at least 6 credit points chosen from two senior-advanced (3000-level) units of study: ANTH3601 Contemporary Theory and Anthropology and ANTH3602 Reading Ethnography.

ANTH3601 requires you to explore and debate a set of key concepts and themes that link contemporary theory to the history of the discipline: culture, society, the individual, agency, power, meaning and value. ANTH3602 focuses on the texts that anthropologists produce and the ways in which they make and build arguments. In doing so it explores issues of comparison, rhetoric, representation and intertextuality.

Graduate opportunities

Sydney Arts and Social Sciences graduates work in government departments at all levels, and major private sector consultancies and corporations, locally and overseas. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences offers a range of subject areas that prepare graduates for careers in administration, education, business research, marketing, media, management consultancy, public relations, gallery and museum curatorship, hospitality and tourism, community and welfare. Our graduates are proficient in research and inquiry, and demonstrate personal and intellectual autonomy, and ethical, social and professional understanding, qualities sought after by leading employers all over the world.

Further study for major

Eligible candidates may proceed to an Honours year in the Bachelor of Arts, or apply for admission to a rich postgraduate program in the humanities and social sciences, comprising advanced learning and professional courses. Master degrees include capstone projects ranging from internships with government and non-government organisations in Australia and overseas, the gallery and museum sector, and leading media organisations, to opportunities for independent research projects which prepare students for higher degrees by research.

Related subject areas

Cultural Studies, Performance Studies, Gender Studies, Political Economy

Our courses that offer this major