University of Sydney Handbooks - 2013 Archive

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The department of Anthropology is part of the School of Social and Political Sciences (SSPS).

Program structure and content
Anthropology is the study of the full variety of human societies and cultures. Although it shares much of its theory and method with other social science and humanities disciplines, it remains distinct in its:

  1. emphasis on cross-cultural comparison
  2. interest in the range of human cultural and social diversity
  3. use of long-term field research in distinct settings as its primary research method.

While often associated with the study of small-scale 'traditional' societies, social anthropology is equally concerned with the investigation and analysis of contemporary social groups. Junior units introduce students to the study of cultural and social diversity, the significance of cultural difference in a globalised world, and the development of major traditions of theory about these key problems in anthropology.

Understanding cultural difference raises general issues of human cognition and communication, social structure, performance, and representation, and calls into question taken for granted categories such as religion, politics and economics. Senior units of study address these theoretical and conceptual challenges.

In regional and geographic terms, current units of study focus on both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and immigrant Australians, as well as a wide range of Asian, Pacific and other groups and peoples.

Anthropology is deeply engaged with contemporary social issues. The study of race and racism, gender inequalities across cultures, processes of urbanisation and globalisation, the dynamics of poverty, the politics of ethnicity, the social impact of development and international aid, health and medicine as cultural issues, religion and ritual, and the social experience of everyday life, have all loomed large in teaching and research. The study of anthropology will assist you to develop a discerning view on the major issues in the world today.

Requirements for a major
For a major in Anthropology, students must complete the following:

  1. 12 credit points of compulsory junior units in Anthropology
  2. At least 6 units of study (36 credit points) of senior elective units of study selected from the units offered.

Up to 6 credit points of units from the approved Table of cross-listed units on the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences website may be counted towards the major (see

Honours in Anthropology consists of coursework and a research project designed to develop an advanced understanding of Anthropology as a discipline with a distinctive methodology and history. The aim is to provide students with the research skills and breadth of disciplinary knowledge required for them to undertake their own individually supervised research project culminating in an honours thesis of 20,000 words.

To proceed to honours in Anthropology, students must have a credit average or better in 48 senior credit points of Anthropology, including two mandatory pre-honours seminar units.

Applications from students from other universities with equivalent qualifications are also encouraged.

Contact/further information
Department website:
Honours Coordinator: Dr Neil Maclean