Leading political activist David played a key role in the Occupy Wall Street movement
Anthropology and sociology deal with human behaviours in their social context. This degree gives you a comprehensive grounding in these converging subjects, so you'll develop an understanding of their shared traditions and differences in perspective.
We don't assume you have any knowledge of anthropology, and welcome applications from anyone with arts, social studies or science backgrounds.
If your first language is not English, please check our English Language requirements.
In your first year you'll learn the main theories within social anthropology, and will be introduced to ethnography and anthropological methodological practice. For the sociology element you'll look at the subject's key texts and thinkers, and will develop an overview of the discipline's development and distinguishing features.
In your second year you'll consider the anthropology of religion, morals and symbolism, and explore interactions between current changing economic and political structures. A link module will familiarise you with methodological and philosophical issues in sociology and anthropology, and you'll deal with the central issues in sociological analysis and the formation of the modern world. You'll also take a sociology option.
You take a compulsory link module in the third year, which examines how the world has changed since classical sociological theory was produced. You'll also choose anthropology and sociology options, and can complete a dissertation on a topic of your choice, with tutor supervision.
Unseen examination papers, take-home papers, reports, practical projects, and assessed coursework.
An undergraduate honours degree is made up of 360 credits – 120 at Level 4, 120 at Level 5 and 120 at Level 6. If you are a full-time student, you will usually take Level 4 modules in the first year, Level 5 in the second, and Level 6 modules in your final year. A standard module is worth 30 credits. Some programmes also contain 15-credit half modules or can be made up of higher-value parts, such as a dissertation or a Major Project.
Teaching is by lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials. You're assigned a personal tutor, who also acts as an academic tutor. Tutors oversee your academic work and progress over the year. In the third year, most students undertake a Dissertation on a subject of their choice, for which they receive supervision.
Assessment is through a combination of examinations, pre-released examinations, assessed module work and projects.
At Level 4 you take five core modules (three from Anthropology and two from Sociology)
|tbc||Critical Readings: The Emergence of Sociological Rationality||30 credits|
This module focuses on key texts in sociology, reading them closely and critically. You are introduced to Sociology’s key thinkers through focusing on extracts from their writing and learning how to read in a critical way. You look at what they say, but also how they say it. The module aims to give you confidence in reading and thinking about texts.
|SO51003A||Modern Knowledge, Modern Power||30 credits|
This module aims to introduce you to the ‘sociological imagination’. What is distinctive about Sociology? With a focus on knowledge and power, the module looks at how Sociology has developed, with an emphasis on the study of relations between individuals and groups in modern industrial societies.
|AN51001A||Introduction to Social Anthropology||30 credits|
This module introduces basic anthropological concepts of kinship, politics, economics, and religion and the history and theoretical schools of anthropology. Assessed by: one three-hour unseen written paper.
|AN51003A||Anthropological Methods||15 credits|
This module explores aspects of anthropological methods. You study the following areas: data collection techniques and implications of type and quality of data; participant observation: techniques involved, its evolution and change; analytical approaches to primary data, re-analyses of secondary sources; the philosophy of science; value free social science, interaction between observer and observed, perception and ‘fact’.
|AN51007B||Ethnography of a Selected Region I||15 credits|
You'll study the linguistic and cultural groupings of a particular region. The region studied may vary from year to year, but is taken from one of the following: Africa, the Caribbean, the Andes, Lowland South America, Europe, and South Asia.
At Level 5 you choose one Sociology option and then take six core modules (two from Sociology, three from Anthropology and a 'link' module which is taught jointly by both Departments):
|SO52001A||Central Issues in Sociological Analysis||15 credits|
This module looks at central questions about how to study society. It focuses in particular on issues of agency and structure; holism and individualism; continuity and change; public and private; structure and self; laws, observation and interpretation.
|SO52002A||The Making of the Modern World||15 credits|
This module focuses on the formation of the modern state out of earlier forms of political organisation, and examines the development of nationalism, the nature of colonialism and imperialism and the rise of fascism. It also considers the development and problematisation of the welfare state, and the contemporary ‘crisis of the nation-state’.
Assessed by: one two-hour written examination.
|AN52009A||Anthropology of Religion||15 credits|
|AN52008B||Anthropology and the Visual||15 credits|
This module provides a critical introduction to the many ways anthropologists engage with the visual from their use of visual methodologies and analysis of representations to their ethnographic study of everyday visual forms. Focusing on a wide range of visual media from photography, museum exhibitions and popular representations on TV to dress, body art, architecture and other everyday visual and material forms, the module raises issues about the significance of visibility, the politics of representation, the social life of visual and material forms and the relationship between seeing and other senses. Assessed by: one 4,000-word report.
|AN52004B||Politics, Economics and Social Change||30 credits|
This module outlines the scope and approaches of economic and political anthropology and development studies. Issues of aid, populism, marginality, nationalism, fundamentalism, globalisation and other phenomena which do not fit easily into definitions of the ‘economic’ or ‘political’, are critically evaluated. Assessed by: one three-hour unseen written paper.
|AN52001A||Methodological and Philosophical Issues in Sociology and Anthropology||15 credits|
This is a ‘link’ module, taught jointly by the Departments of Anthropology and Sociology. It introduces the basic issues of analytical method within anthropology and sociology with reference to philosophies of both the natural sciences and humanities Assessed by: one two hour unseen written paper.
To find out more about this degree, including details about the ways you'll be assessed and information about our marking criteria, you can download Progamme specification .
On this degree you'll attend lectures and seminars where you'll hear about ideas and concepts related to specific topics, and where you'll be encouraged to discuss and debate the issues raised. This will enhance your academic knowledge of the subject, and will improve your communication skills.
But this is just a small proportion of what we expect you to do on the degree. For each hour of taught learning in lectures and seminars, we expect you to complete another 5-6 hours of independent study. This typically involves carrying out required and additional reading, preparing topics for discussion, or producing essays or project work.
This emphasis on independent learning is very important at Goldsmiths. We don't just want you to accept what we tell you without question. We want you to be inspired to read more, to develop your own ideas, and to find the evidence that will back them up. Independent study requires excellent motivation and time management skills. These skills will stay with you for life, and are the kind of transferable skills that are highly sought after by employers.
Learning and teaching on this degree will take place through:
Find out more about these learning and teaching approaches.
Course convener, BA in Anthropology and Sociology
Leading political activist David played a key role in the Occupy Wall Street movement
David Graeber is is a prominent activist and author who played an early role in the Occupy Wall Street movement, giving it the theme ‘We are the 99 percent’. He is a Reader in the Department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths and previously taught at Yale University.
His recent book, Debt – The First 5000 Years, has become a global bestseller and was described as one of the year’s most influential books.
“When I first became involved in the global justice movement in 2000, it was a profound intellectual shock that I’ve been trying to come to terms with ever since. I realised in a lot of ways activists were way ahead of the intellectuals.”
“What is the place of intellectual practice in a movement for a genuinely free and democratic world? We don’t really know. In the last ten or fifteen years I’ve dedicated almost everything I’ve done in one way or another to try and find out.”
The BA Anthropology and Sociology programme will help you develop the following skills:
This degree enables graduates to go on to a wide range of careers, covering areas including:
What is normal?
It’s what anthropology is all about.
Anthropology is a critical science that studies what it means to be human in different parts of the world. And at Goldsmiths it’s fast and it’s contemporary. We focus on how anthropology can help us understand society and our place within it, by applying anthropology as a local and global lens to explore everything from myth and ritual to new technologies.
As a department we’re interested in pushing the discipline forward – we’re known for pioneering new fields including visual anthropology and the anthropology of modernity – so as a student here you’ll get the chance to specialise in unique areas and look at subjects you can’t study elsewhere.
We want you to graduate with an anthropology degree that has weight in the real world so we make sure you learn anthropology’s core methods and theories together with specialist subject areas relevant to contemporary public life. It’s why our research, cited as ‘internationally excellent’ in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, is policy-oriented and addresses everyday issues in areas as diverse as urban planning, development, emotions and aesthetics, and new social movements.
Staff research interests cover many geographical regions including Latin America, North America, Africa, the Pacific, Asia, and Europe, including Britain.
Discover different sides of life
Sociology studies the relationship between social structures and social actions. We study how people make their own histories but never under circumstances of their own choosing. Sociology at Goldsmiths is active, contemporary and inventive. We are as interested in the ‘global’ issues of poverty and injustice as we are in the ‘micro’ issues of identity and presentation of self. Sociology is a craft, a vocation and to study and engage with the subject can be transformative; once you have acquired a sociological imagination the world will never be the same for you again.
As a department we are interested in pushing the discipline forward. We are known for pioneering ‘Live Sociology’ - focusing on contemporary issues, using innovative methods and celebrating the sociological imagination. It is an approach driven by our international research and it means that as a student here, you can delve into a whole host of topics; many you will be familiar with from previous study – class and stratification, race, gender, power - but much of which will be new – the digital, the body, culture and cities.
We want you to graduate with a sociology degree that has weight in the real world so we make sure you learn how to apply sociology’s core methods to particular areas of life now. Our courses are hands-on – giving you the opportunity to research and record an environment, create and analyse your own data, and draw your own conclusions. And you can apply the skills of sociological study to many careers – our graduates go on to work in a whole range of settings from research institutes to major record labels.
We’re welcoming. Come and let us know what you think and learn through a combination of lectures, small group seminars, practical workshops and field trips, and from an approachable team of expert staff, many of whom have won awards for their teaching.
We are experimental. As a student here you can test out your ideas and get involved in the latest developments within the field. Because all of our staff teach their own specialisms, you find out about the latest research first.
We are active. This means you won’t be synthesising existing information but you will be generating data of your own, conducting your own primary research, and experiencing what it means to be a sociologist now.
• Choose from undergraduate degrees covering areas from media and sociology to the social and political sciences
• Be part of an internationally recognised department
• Access unrivalled University of London research libraries, and gain a reader’s ticket to The British Library
• Engage with a programme that draws on a range of interdisciplinary subjects and looks at a whole range of areas from the technologies of medicine, to media, advertising and branding, and bodies.
• Be part of an international learning environment where everyone offers their own unique point of view
• Debate with academics who are experts in their field, published authors and media commentators in their own right
• Set up your own work placement to apply your skills in practice
• Access a range of research partners from UNICEF to Amnesty International, and from Intel to the BBC
The Department has 28 full-time academic staff, including nine Professors and nine professional staff, as well as part-time and research staff. We also have a number of visiting tutors.
We publish widely in the form of books, contributions to journals, and press articles. This means that you'll be taught by staff who are actually shaping the discipline.
Find out more about staff in the Department of Sociology.
In addition to extensive computing facilities, the Department co-ordinates a programme of talks featuring visiting lecturers from other universities. These talks cover specific areas of interest, and supplement events held by academics within the Department.
BA Anthropology & Sociology, graduated 2004
"Goldsmiths has a special place in my heart."
Studying at Goldsmiths was a life changing experience both academically and socially; still colouring my outlook to life today. Since graduating I have completed a Masters in Fashion Curation which led to the London Transport Museum commissioning an educational outreach project I designed, using archive transport uniforms as part of a handling collection.
Several years on I am working within a health care setting and currently developing a research project into the life threatening disease of sickle cell. The exhibition will consider a cross-disciplinary approach involving the patients of Homerton Hospital, academics in the field of sociology, medicine and artists. The plan for the exhibition is to grow in financial support and serve as a new exciting platform for sickle cell disease and offer a forum of debate for a considered educational outreach project received across the UK.
Goldsmiths has a strong tradition in working with the local community to broaden access to higher education and lifelong learning and I firmly believe that this approach has given me the tools to foster my own individual interests and curate exhibitions which aim to support marginalised groups.
I have such wonderful memories from Goldsmiths and I have remained in contact with so many of the students/tutors/local residents and for this Goldsmiths has a special place in my heart.
Hannah, Social Media Executive for Generator Hotels and Hostels
BA Anthropology & Sociology, graduated 2012
"I have been able to use much from my sociology courses as they were to do with understanding how people react and engage with society."
I found work a month after graduation as a Social Media Executive for Generator Hotels and Hostels. I was very lucky since it was the first interview I went for, and my degree definitely helped as working in marketing, it was very good to have a background in sociology.
I truly enjoy the work I am doing since we are all a fairly young and innovative team, and I have been able to use much from my sociology courses as they were to do with understanding how people react and engage with society. Working in the virtual world, having a sociological background has been really beneficial.
Some advice to current students: consider all the courses you do, making sure that they relate to each other as can therefore be easier to have an idea of what you might want to do in the future. Have a good think through in order to link the courses in one way or another, and build on the knowledge you already have. Time management is very important as well. Once in work, you will have deadlines to meet and work to prioritise.
Lastly make the most of the uni years since it is all over very quickly and I miss it so much. Goldsmiths has truly been a great experience and I would urge everyone to make the most of all the activities on offer, as well as the social part of university life.
BA Anthropology & Sociology graduate
"Goldsmiths gave me new life skills and the ability for analytical thinking."
My journey at Goldsmiths began in the late 1980s, but is just as relevant today. I did Anthropology and Sociology as a mature student and loved every minute of it. Goldsmiths enabled me to understand how culture and society is so vibrant and diverse. It also gave me new life skills and the ability for analytical thinking.
My three years flashed by and, after graduation, I decided to do an MA in Sociology with special reference to Qualitative Research. This degree was completed on a part time basis, but was just as rewarding.
Goldsmiths was very kind to me, enabling me to grow as a person and human being. I hope I have been able to share this with my family, friends and colleagues. Goldsmiths in the 21st century is a centre of academic excellence, I still visit and I am still inspired! Age is no barrier to study, young or old, so good luck and enjoy every precious moment.
Professor Laurie Taylor, awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Goldsmiths
for his role in helping to popularise sociology
Sociologist Laurie Taylor is perhaps best known as presenter of BBC Radio 4's Thinking Allowed, a programme that explores new research on how society works.
"British social science is admired around the world for its originality and theoretical sophistication but Goldsmiths has always been one of the very best centres of sociological thought and research. Let me read out a list of people who have at one time featured on Thinking Allowed - all of these Goldsmiths academics are major social scientists. I'm listing them to give the list, but the length of the list is what really says a lot about Goldsmiths: Les Back, Angela McRobbie, Bev Skeggs, Caroline Knowles, Alberto Toscano, Mike Featherstone, Nirmal Puwar, Rebecca Cassidy, Alex Rhys-Taylor, Dhiraj Murthy, Kate Nash, David Oswell, Roger Burrows and Vikki Bell. It's a tremendous list and an indication of what an important place Goldsmiths is."
Content last modified: 13 Apr 2015
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