University of Sydney Handbooks - 2016 Archive

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

About the major

Social and cultural anthropology is the study of humankind, both what we share in common (ie what is universal) and ways of life in different societies. How do people in different places live, adapt to their environments, and relate to one another? How do they understand the world around them and adapt to the rapid changes that are happening across the globe? You will discover that a genuine understanding of another culture also requires awareness that your own culture is only one possibility in the field of human diversity. Anthropology’s study of difference allows you to develop discerning views on major issues in the world today.

An Anthropology major is recommended for careers in business or other organisations whose activities require an understanding of the cultures of within Australia and among Australia's Asia-Pacific neighbours and other trading partners; overseas aid and community development projects; and divisions of the public service and non-government organisations concerned with issues of multiculturalism, Indigenous affairs, refugees and immigration.

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:

  • regional studies (China, Indigenous Australia, Latin America, Melanesia, Southeast Asia)
  • comparing one topic across different cultures (eg economy, politics, health, religion, the family)
  • topics where a cross-cultural perspective is important (eg, gender, the body, psychology, language, communication and media)
  • critical perspectives on pressing concerns (eg critiques of racism, multiculturalism, development, environmental change, globalisation)
  • the history, theories and methods of anthropology.

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

Pathways through the major

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

The units of study for the major can be found in the Table A unit of study table for Anthropology. The table shows units of study on offer in the current handbook year. You may find information regarding a full list of units of study available to the major on the departmental website (

Junior units of study (1000 level)

Majors complete two junior units of study: ANTH1001 Cultural Difference: An Introduction and ANTH1002 Anthropology and the Global.

ANTH1001 focuses on cultural difference, cultural variation and human unity while ANTH1002 focuses on the relationship between meaning, value and power in global social dynamics.

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 (see:

Majors also complete at least six 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.


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 completed the requirements of a major in Anthropology and have an average of 70 percent or better in 48 senior credit points from Anthropology, including ANTH3601 and ANTH3602.

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

Contact/further information

Department website:
Honours Coordinator: Dr Ase Ottoson