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Department of Anthropology

The study of human culture and society
Anthropologists use long term field research in different parts of the world to gain in depth understanding of the culture, society and economy in which other people live.

Founded in 1925, the Department of Anthropology at the University of Sydney is Australia's first. We maintain our strong reputation for theoretical innovation, excellence in ethnographic fieldwork and an outstanding commitment to the training of postgraduate research students.

As well as studying small-scale societies and groups in both rural and urban areas around the world, we investigate modern nation states and transnational networks.

We specialise in the cultural regions of Indigenous Australia, Melanesia, China, Southeast Asia and Latin America, as well as in development and globalisation, urban studies and environmental change.

Anthropology analyses what human cultures have in common and how they differ. Learn about contemporary lives and issues in the world today, including: healing systems; religious traditions; gender, the body and sexuality; forms of marriage and family; international development; and Indigenous cultures. 


*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degrees.  


We offer three research degrees in Anthropology and you will need to have a substantial background in this area to be eligible to enrol. 

Understand the challenges of sustainable human development on a local, national and global scale. This degree provides theoretical foundations and opportunities for practice-based understanding of development policy, programs and outcomes. 


Our research

Our academics are currently undertaking anthropological research through a wide variety of projects, including: 

  • Aboriginal Australians and the nation state 
  • Papuan cosmologies 
  • Children and youth in contemporary China 
  • Aboriginal urban life 
  • Political violence and revolution in Southeast Asia
  • Race and ethnic relations in Latin America 
  • Informal economies of the urban poor in Southeast Asia 
  • Power and politics in Venezuela 
  • The anthropology of time and space in Aboriginal Australia 
  • Cash and gift economies in Papua New Guinea 
  • Christianity in the Pacific 
  • Climate change in Australian communities 
  • Youth culture and identity in Thailand 
  • Social inequality in cities of Indonesia and Vietnam 
  • The resource extraction economy in Australia 
  • Peasant economy and politics in Laos

Our people


For a full listing of our upcoming events, please visit the School's events calendar.

Department Head

Dr Robbie Peters

School of Social and Political Sciences

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