School of Humanities and Performing Arts

BA (Hons) Anthropology

Studying anthropology is like embarking on an incredible journey. Every day, you will meet new cultures, religions, traditions and beliefs. You will learn to compare and analyse these societies in order to figure out what humans have in common, and the ways in which we differ. Your travels will teach you that the exotic is, on close scrutiny, rather familiar. And like all good adventures, anthropology will teach you something about yourself.

Guided by world-leading teachers, you will become an expert in managing cultural diversity, and perfectly placed to help people respond to the many (and increasing) political, environmental, economic and cultural challenges that beset them. Anthropology at Plymouth mixes social and applied anthropology in a unique offer within the UK that allows you to explore personal topics of interest, obtain vocational training, and learn by participating in real fieldwork.

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Careers with this subject

As an anthropologist, you will possess many skills. You will learn how to communicate clearly and coherently, and how to work effectively alone or in groups. At Plymouth, you will become fluent in qualitative research, able to navigate the practicalities and ethics of data-collection. Above all, anthropologists become expert translators, brokers, and negotiators between different cultural groups – be they religions, ethnicities, classes, genders, etc. 

This will allow you to pursue many different career options. Anthropologists have worked as consultants and directors in the following contexts, all of which are becoming more important in the age of globalisation: 

  • Museum Curatorship
  • Environmental Conservation 
  • Development  
  • Public Health and Epidemic 
  • Advocacy 
  • Market Research 
  • Inclusivity and Human Resources 
  • Engaging in Multiculturalism Campaigns
  • Journalism
  • Fiction Writers 

Where could your Anthropology degree take you?

Key features

Research-driven learning

Anthropological learning at Plymouth is a research-driven experience. This means two things:

  • First, you will be taught by professional anthropologists who are very research active. Your courses will be based on cutting-edge developments in the field.
  • Second, at Plymouth we learn by doing. Throughout your three years studying Anthropology, you will get plenty of opportunity to engage in real anthropological research. From the get-go, our BA (Hons) Anthropology course is focused around giving you the methodological, practical, ethical and logistical skills you need to develop complex and sophisticated anthropological projects.
If you want to truly build your data-gathering and analytical skills while contributing to existing projects, then Plymouth’s the place for you!


Students shape Plymouth anthropology

All our students are active and (in)valuable members of our growing Anthropological community. Our undergrads run our social media, organise excursions and extra-curricular activities, participate in administrative meetings, contribute to Open Days, etc. 

We are a young Programme, and we want our students to shape the way Anthropology is thought of and taught at our University. Come study with us! You’ll be able to take on unique responsibilities that will boost your CV, teach you administrative skills, and help gear you for life after university.


Vocational training

We want you to gain valuable work experience before heading out into the world. We will help you identify your areas of specialisms and employ University and external networks to help you create contacts.

In your final year, you will be offered a vocational training module, where you will also take on the role of live consultant to apply anthropology to solve a particular problem, ideally in an area in which you wish to work or pursue further study.


100% coursework – no exams

All our modules rely on 100% coursework. There are no exams in anthropology at Plymouth. This is because we want to create inclusive learning environments. We also want to design forms of assessment that reflect real working conditions and truly test the skills anthropologists will need to apply in their future careers. 


Visual literacy

Anthropology at Plymouth has emerged out of the popular art history course. Accordingly, our BA (Hons) course retains a strong focus on teaching students how to professionally work with images and objects. 

How and why are objects displayed in the way they are? Should the Elgin Marbles be returned? How are museums dealing with their colonial legacy? 


Field trips

Our course includes two major field trips. Both of these would cover your travel and accommodation costs, so you would only need to worry about personal spending. 

Aside from there being opportunities to get to know your colleagues even better, the field trips allow you to practice core anthropological skills. Thus, the first-year field trip sees us going to London and Oxford, where we visit and compare various ethnographic museums (e.g. Pitt-Rivers Museum and the British Museum). The second field trip is, generally, an international one. The location changes from year-to-year, but it allows us to get in touch with Anthropology students on the European Continent, and do mini-fieldwork projects in a non-British setting. 

Course details

  • Year 1
  • In your first year, we introduce you to the core of the discipline. You will have the chance to start actually doing your own ethnographic fieldwork, not just reading about it, and learn how to interpret visual and material culture.

    Core modules
    • ANTH401 Introduction to Anthropology

      This intensive module provides an introduction to core concepts relating to the subfields of anthropology, with a focus on socio-cultural anthropology, but also including a grounding in archaeology, biological anthropology and linguistics to afford students an introductory holistic insight into the human condition.

    • ANTH403 Fieldwork & Ethnography

      This module provides students with both an introductory understanding, and first-hand experience, of ethnographic fieldwork.

    • ANTH404 Understanding Yourself & Others Through Intercultural Communication

    • ANTH405 Understanding the Body

      This module introduces students to the idea of the body as both a cultural and lived experience, through spoken, written, and visual mediums.

    • ANTH407 Introduction to Visual Anthropology and Art History

      This module provides Anthropology students with a comprehensive understanding of the paradigms of Art History and their methodological implications for visual culture. Basic research literacy will be developed in a number of exercises and group-based activities.

    • ANTH408 Cultural Practices in Context

      This module is geared toward fieldwork and independent study in a museum and/or gallery context. Following a Fieldtrip to public collections in London and/or the Southwest students complete an Object Report on an object of their choice seen in situ.

  • Year 2
  • During your second year, you will develop your anthropological methods and skills by continuing to engage in fieldwork. You will have the opportunity to explore many specialist subjects, and start to identify the topic you’d like to explore in your third year Dissertation.

    Core modules
    • ANTH503 Applying Anthropology

      Professionalism, activism, development anthropology, medical anthropology public participation, criticism and colonialism.

    • ANTH506 Anthropology of Business

      This module uses ethnographic evidence from across the world and examines the different ways humans exploit their environments to make a living. Focus will be on the social construction of “value” and on the production, distribution, accumulation and consumption of resources. We will also consider the impact of economic practices on other aspects of society (e.g. religion, politics, kinship, etc.) and vice versa.

    • ANTH507 Anthropology of Humour and Laughter

      This module examines the social, cultural, economic and political dimensions of laughter and humour. Central to the debates discussed will be extent to which humour is culturally defined, whether laughter is an effective form of creating social solidarity and punishing those who break social norms, and whether mockery, irony, sarcasm, and ridicule - particularly when power loses control over it - can be a powerful tool of social resistance and transformation. Students also produce a piece of ethnographic work during the module.

    • ARHI502 Collecting and Exhibiting Cultures in the 19th and 20th Centuries

      This module examines historical and contemporary cultures of collection, exhibition, and display. Artworks and objects will be considered from a range of international contexts. Specific attention will be given to the politics and ideologies of art ownership, theft, looting, and repatriation.

    • HIST522 Talking History, Seeing History: Research Methods in Visual and Oral History

      This module investigates the use of oral, material & visual sources as a means of investigating the past. Also, the contextualisation of historical sources and questions in the wider historiographical literature.

    • SOC2525 Gender, Sex and Sexuality

      This module introduces students to the sociology of gender, sex and sexuality. It interrogates these concepts with particular reference to identity, activism and social change. It focuses on substantive issues, such as transgender, intersex, masculinities/femininities, bodies, family, media, work, culture and community. It develops an understanding of the similarities, differences and intersections between gender, sex, sexuality and other social signifiers of difference/diversity.

  • Final year
  • In your final year, you will be able to focus on those areas of anthropology that you have become most interested in. You will produce your own year-long dissertation on any topic of your choice, which you'll work on with the focused support of your personal supervisor. At the same time, you will also take on the role of live consultant to apply anthropology to solve a particular problem, ideally in an area in which you wish to work or pursue further study.

    Core modules
    • ANTH602 Dissertation

      In this module students prepare the ground and complete a dissertation on an anthropological subject of their own choosing. Lecturing staff provide tutorial support and assistance with research and writing.

    • ANTH606 Anthropology of Business

      This module uses ethnographic evidence from across the world and examines the different ways humans exploit their environments to make a living. Focus will be on the social construction of “value” and on the production, distribution, accumulation and consumption of resources. We will also consider the impact of economic practices on other aspects of society (e.g. religion, politics, kinship, etc.) and vice versa.

    • ANTH607 Anthropology of Humour and Laughter

      This module examines the social, cultural, economic and political dimensions of laughter and humour. Central to the debates discussed will be extent to which humour is culturally defined, whether laughter is an effective form of creating social solidarity and punishing those who break social norms, and whether mockery, irony, sarcasm, and ridicule - particularly when power loses control over it - can be a powerful tool of social resistance and transformation. Students also produce a piece of ethnographic work during the module.

    • ANTH609 Anthropology on the Ground

      In this module students will take on the role of live consultant to apply anthropology to solve a particular problem, ideally in an area in which they wish to work or pursue further study.

    • ANTH610 Coastal Cultures

      This module draws together previous experience of ethnography, interrogating visual and material sources from different disciplinary perspectives for application to coastal cultures.

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

BA Hons Anthropology Programme Specification 2020 21 6236

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

104 - 112

UCAS tariff
Typical offer will be 104 points, minimum of 2 A levels, General Studies accepted.

IB
26 points overall

BTEC
Grade DMM

Access courses  
Pass a named Access to HE Diploma (including GCSE English and Maths grade C/4 or above or equivalent) with at least 33 credits at Merit and/or Distinction.

GCSE 
Mathematics and English language grade C / 4. If you do meet this criteria please seek further advice with the admission team on ug-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

Other
14-19 Diplomas are accepted. Other combinations and non-A level qualifications also considered.

Short of the entry requirements for this course? Don’t worry you may be able to engage with an access course to prepare you for possible entry onto this programme for the following year.
 

We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

New Student 2020 2021
Home/EU £9,250 To be confirmed
International £13,800 To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) £770 To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. For more information about fees and funding please visit www.plymouth.ac.uk/money.

Undergraduate scholarships for international students

To reward outstanding achievement the University of Plymouth offers scholarship schemes to help towards funding your studies.

Find out whether you are eligible and how you can apply

Additional costs

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business and more details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business additional costs.

How to apply

All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). 

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 

To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email international-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

Pushing ethnographic fieldwork in times of pandemic

When COVID-19 stormed British shores and sent us into lockdown, it also swept away our best-laid plans for research. Instead of throwing in the towel and calling it a day, Plymouth’s undergraduate students responded to the seismic changes transforming their research environment by engaging in “netnography”. The groups our budding anthropologists wanted to study attempted to shift their activities online in a bid to survive. Our students followed them.

Read more about how our students are embracing online research

Where can anthropology take you?

As an anthropologist, you will possess many skills which will allow you to pursue many different career options.

  • Anthropologists are leaders when it comes to thinking about new forms of curatorship, or navigating restitution issues or colonial legacies.

    Museum curatorship

    Anthropologists are leaders when it comes to thinking about new forms of curatorship, or navigating restitution issues or colonial legacies.
  • Anthropologists tend to be especially good at understanding local approaches to the environment, as well as tricky issues of governance, like poaching.

    Environmental conservation

    Anthropologists tend to be especially good at understanding local approaches to the environment, as well as tricky issues of governance, like poaching.
  • Anthropologists have always been instrumental in showing that effective development is one that “fits” local culture and understands local needs.

    Development

    Anthropologists have always been instrumental in showing that effective development is one that “fits” local culture and understands local needs.
  • Anthropologists are key in designing health campaigns that embrace local understandings of health, disease and death.

    Public health and epidemic

    Anthropologists are key in designing health campaigns that embrace local understandings of health, disease and death.
  • Anthropologists represent groups who lack the voice or power to defend themselves. They fight for the weak, the poor, the misunderstood, and have been key players defending indigenous rights.

    Advocacy

    Anthropologists represent groups who lack the voice or power to defend themselves. They fight for the weak, the poor, the misunderstood, and have been key players defending indigenous rights.
  • Anthropologists have a strong understanding of how people imbue things with value, and are very important for companies developing and marketing new products.

    Market research

    Anthropologists have a strong understanding of how people imbue things with value, and are very important for companies developing and marketing new products.
  • Anthropologists are particularly good in thinking about representation, and in creating inclusive and fair workspaces.

    Inclusivity and human resources

    Anthropologists are particularly good in thinking about representation, and in creating inclusive and fair workspaces.
  • Anthropologists are excellent at leading projects and policies that promote the strong aspects of multiculturalism without reproducing its pitfalls and failures.

    Engaging in multiculturalism campaigns

    Anthropologists are excellent at leading projects and policies that promote the strong aspects of multiculturalism without reproducing its pitfalls and failures.
  • Anthropologists’ ability to think critically and write clearly has made them excellent journalists, particularly regarding issues such as capitalism and politics. Anthropologists were key in predicting and describing the financial crash of 2008.

    Journalism

    Anthropologists’ ability to think critically and write clearly has made them excellent journalists, particularly regarding issues such as capitalism and politics. Anthropologists were key in predicting and describing the financial crash of 2008.
  • With such a sensitive grasp on the way humans behave, anthropologists have produced outstanding fiction and become excellent writers.

    Fiction writers

    With such a sensitive grasp on the way humans behave, anthropologists have produced outstanding fiction and become excellent writers.

Meet your lecturers

Dr. Ivan Tacey

Ivan has conducted long-term ethnographic fieldwork with Batek and Manya’ tropical foragers of Peninsular Malaysia since 2007. His research explores how environmental degradation, socio-political marginalization and relations with outsiders have transformed these indigenous peoples’ religions and lifeways. Ivan has lectured in anthropology, sociology, cultural studies and anthrozoology at universities in France and the UK. He is a member of the executive board of the International Society for Academic Research on Shamanism and their journal Shaman. Alongside anthropology, Ivan is a collector of rare soul, jazz, hip-hop, afrobeat and afro-Brazilian music and has run several sound-systems in the UK and France

Ivan rechecking data with Batek friends in Kelantan, Malaysia

Brian in Ceuta

Dr. Brian Campbell

Brian's primary research looks at the relationship between Christians, Muslims, Jews and Hindus in Ceuta, a small Spanish enclave-town in North Africa. He is particularly interested in the local concept of “convivencia”, the idea these religious groups should live together in harmony. The opportunities and fears presented by “convivencia” strongly influence Ceutan life and politics. Brian also conducts plenty of multidisciplinary research on conservation, focusing on the conflict between bird-hunters and environmental NGOs in Malta, where he is from. Of late, he has become interested in migration issues in the Mediterranean, on right-wing nationalism in Spain and Malta, and the fortification of Europe’s southern borders.

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