University of Sydney Handbooks - 2018 Archive

Download full 2018 archive Page archived at: Fri, 21 Sep 2018 05:39:45 +0000


About the major

Socio-cultural anthropology is the holistic study of humankind, which attempts to understand both what we share in common and what is particular to different cultural groups. The discipline emphasises humans’ innate capacity to create culture, and the ways all individuals live within distinctive cultures.

Anthropology will help you develop discerning views on major issues in the world today, including multiculturalism, race and racism, identity politics, and globalisation. Anthropology provides a unique perspective on larger debates across the social sciences by contributing cross-cultural comparisons. You will discover that a genuine understanding of another culture requires awareness that your own culture is only one possibility in a field of human diversity.

Students will explore core methods and theories of cultural analysis. You will learn to appreciate how your own culture shapes your understanding of yourself and others.

  • area studies (China, Indigenous Australia, Latin America, Melanesia, Southeast Asia)
  • the study of key issues in the world from the perspective of different cultures and societies, including economic inequality, health outcomes and healing systems, religious traditions and movements, gender relations, and forms of families
  • analyses of race and racism, multiculturalism, development, and human interactions with the environment
  • the history, theories and methods of anthropology.

Graduates with a major in anthropology will have a sophisticated understanding of cultural difference in a globalised world, and the capacity to analyse cross-cultural settings wherever they occur. These are important skills for employment in a wide range of public, private, and non-profit organisations.

Requirements for completion

A major in Anthropology requires 48 credit points from the Unit of Study table including:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level units
(ii) 12 credit points of 2000-level units
(iii) 18 credit points of 3000-level units
(iv) 6 credit points of 3000-level Interdisciplinary Project units

A minor in Anthropology requires 36 credit points from this table including:
(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level units
(ii) 12 credit points of 2000-level units
(iii) 12 credit points of 3000-level units

First year

In first year we explore the ways in which human beings make relationships, livelihoods and meaning and how people are integrated into distinctive cultures. As importantly we examine the ways in which culture divides, excludes and is implicated in power relationships.

The combination of these two perspectives on culture will allow us to ask key questions about globalisation as a process that intensifies both connection and division around the world. We will examine anthropology’s distinctive research method of living amongst the people whose lives and culture we seek to understand, and the ethical and political importance of cultural understanding in the contemporary world.

Second year

In the second year, Anthropology majors select two units that focus on particular themes around which culture develops. These include illness and wellbeing, race and ethnicity, urbanisation, economy and livelihood, religion, and globalisation and development.

These themes will allow you to explore distinctive ways in which people build relationships with others and with the environment in different global settings. These themes give anthropologists precise ways of identifying and describing cultural difference, and allow us to compare and contrast cultures in disciplined ways. 2000 level units critically examine the assumptions that underlie these themes.

Third year

3000 level units focus on diverse cultural areas around the world, exploring how anthropologists use competing and sometimes conflicting theories of culture to try to understand different aspects of cultural systems.

Third year units explore central questions in Anthropology in depth. This includes units that focus on a single cultural area and the debates amongst anthropologists working in that region; units that review different theories of culture, society and the human condition; and units that help you develop skills in Anthropology’s unique research method, participant-observation/ethnographic field work.

On completion of a major you will understand how anthropology complements and contributes to the work of other social science and humanities disciplines. As part of a major you will also complete at least one substantial project that requires a synthesis of research, analytic and writing skills


Anthropology Honours provides you with the opportunity to research in greater detail a region of the world or comparative theme that you have become interested in during the completion of your major. In your first semester you will do two seminar based units of study that cap off your training in foundational debates in the discipline.

You will also begin work with a supervisor on research towards a 20,000 word dissertation. They will support your formulation of a research problem and identification of the literature and empirical material required to address it. In cooperation with your fellow honours students and supported by a workshop you will develop and extend the following skills:

  • time and work management over a prolonged period of time;
  • efficient reading and note-taking practices
  • how to organise large volumes of research material and references;
  • how to structure and write a literature review;
  • how to integrate analysis with your empirical data in the writing of your
  • and, how to revise and edit text in several draft stages

Most importantly you will gain the intellectual satisfaction of developing and completing your own project and of turning anthropology to your own purposes.

If you commenced your degree prior to 2018: Admission to Honours requires a major in Anthropology with an average of 70 percent or above.

If you commenced your degree in 2018: Admission to Honours is via the Bachelor of Advanced Studies and requires the completion of a major in Anthropology with an average of 70 percent or above. You will need to ensure you have completed all other requirements of the Bachelor of Advanced Studies, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units and a second major, prior to commencing Honours.

Advanced coursework

The Bachelor of Advanced Studies in Anthropology provides students with a major in Anthropology the opportunity to develop superior research, writing and communication skills through advanced level coursework. The BAdvStudies in Anthropology is a one year program that will open up new career options, building on knowledge and skills developed in your undergraduate major and adding significant value.

The degree requires you to complete two 6 credit-point advanced coursework units and a 12 credit-point project in Anthropology. One coursework unit focuses on questions of cultural difference, inequality and power in projects of national and transnational governance. The second unit deals with competing visions of future worlds in shifting present contexts of inequality, environmental change and cultural difference. The project units give you an opportunity to apply anthropological skills and knowledge to a contemporary social question that you choose, in a supportive seminar environment of structured planning, progress review and exchange of ideas and experiences. You may complement your project and advanced coursework units in Anthropology with two electives. On completion of the BAdvStudies in Anthropology, you will have superior skills and knowledge of the discipline that will enable you to contribute to constructive new perspectives on contemporary social questions, in ways that have wider public impact and employment value.

Contact/further information

Department website:
Honours Coordinator: Dr Åse Ottosson

Learning Outcomes
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the symbolic, institutional, environmental and historical dimensions of human diversity and commonality and an appreciation of the range of analytical perspectives on this diversity.
  2. Use the analytical lenses of meaning, value and power, to work with the different scales at which cultural and social processes operate including the significance of geographic regions.
  3. Critically engage anthropological evidence and method, and demonstrate an appreciation of the importance of empirical knowledge as the foundation of judgement.
  4. Recognise the ethical and practical implications of ethnocentric assumptions and critically evaluate the adequacy of disciplinary concepts.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the Anthropology 2 intersection of cultural diversity with structures of inequality and power in the way they approach and formulate problems.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to advocate and communicate the relevance of anthropological perspectives and methods in interdisciplinary approaches to contemporary social issues and debates, as well as demonstrate proficiency in the communication of anthropological knowledge in various modalities to different audiences.
  7. Identify the literature relevant to an issue and use it to formulate a research problem.
  8. Demonstrate proficiency in producing written research based work that demonstrates an understanding of its sources and a capacity to link the conceptual and empirical dimensions of argument.