Course dates

Starting date, Wednesday 16 Jan 2019
6.30-8.30pm | 10 Weeks
Starting date, Wednesday 1 May 2019
6.30-8.30pm | 10 Weeks

Course overview

Why do we identify with some social groups more than others? How do every day activities such as shopping inform our sense of group belonging? Human behaviour, culture and society pose many questions for all of us and through the discipline of anthropology - the study of humans - we can reveal important insights into language, race, marriage, religion, sex and other defining features of our humanity.

As a discipline, anthropology is concerned with understanding what constitutes ‘human nature’ and the underpinnings of human behaviour. This course also examines some of the ways anthropologists have tried to understand what it means to be ‘human’. On this course, you will learn to think like an anthropologist and investigate the social, cultural and evolutionary aspects of our behavioural modernity.

This course is aimed at adult learners who are seeking to develop a better understanding of human social and cultural difference either for personal intellectual development or in order to increase their career opportunities. The course will introduce you to some of the important theoretical and methodological underpinnings of social and cultural anthropology, and to the political and ideological implications of the kinds of theories and knowledge that anthropologists produce.

This is an introductory course and no previous experience of having studied in this area is required.

Why take this course at Goldsmiths?

Goldsmiths has one of the best Anthropology departments in Europe and is committed committed to cultivating a unique and creative approach, seeking to encourage originality and to challenge the norms with regard to the way we approach our subjects.

We are also committed to supporting our students by creating a responsive and collaborative learning environment, and by providing inspiring opportunities for personal and social development both within the classroom and without. The Department of Anthropology also has an international reputation for pioneering new fields including visual anthropology and the anthropology of modernity, and as such is committed to making the discipline of anthropology relevant to understanding and engaging with important and contemporary global issues.

What will I study?

Each session will be delivered in a 2-hour format which will involve approximately 1 hour of lecturing (broken down into 2 x 30 minute lecture sessions, complimented with short films and other audio-visual material). The remaining time will be devoted to group/workshop activities to enable you to clarify and consolidate your knowledge, develop your insights and engage in critical evaluation of the ideas presented in lecturers and reading materials, and share your ideas with other members of the class.

The course introduces you to an anthropological approach to understanding human behaviour, culture and society, focusing on the following areas: language and symbolism, kinship and marriage, sex and gender, personhood and collective identity, race and ethnicity, religion and ritual, as well as gift-giving and exchange.

What are the aims of the course?

As the discipline anthropology is also concerned with understanding what constitutes ‘human nature’ and the social and cultural underpinnings of human behaviour, the course will enable you to understand and critically analyse the key ways that anthropologists have explored the question of what it means to be ‘human’.

The cross-cultural perspective that anthropologists apply means that you will examine these issues through an exploration of a range of common human social institutions and cultural practices. This will not only allow you to broaden your knowledge base regarding a range of different cultures and societies, but will enable you to develop a better understanding of and sensitivity to ways of living different to your own.

The course will also develop your knowledge about some of the important theoretical and methodological underpinnings of social and cultural anthropology, and about the political and ideological implications of the kinds of theories and knowledge that anthropologists produce.

What are the intended learning outcomes? 

On successful completion of this course, participants will:

  • Understand the breadth of the anthropological discipline and learn what contributions anthropologists can make both in and out of the academy.
  • Be knowledgeable about a range of theories regarding human nature and human behaviour.
  • Be knowledgeable about the values, beliefs and worldviews of cultures other than their own and be aware of the importance of cross-cultural communication.
  • Have acquired communicative and empathetic skills for conversing with and understanding the social worlds of other peoples.
  • Be able to recognise the relationship between data and theory.
  • Have developed skills in thinking and critical analysis with regard to a range of contemporary social issues.

Who teaches this course?

The Anthropology Department at Goldsmiths College has an international reputation for outstanding teaching and research; the department is also committed to widening participation and developing public engagement with anthropology.

On this course, you will be taught by Dr Justin Woodman – a lecturer from the department who specialises in teaching introductory modules to adult learners. Justin has over 15 years of experience teaching introductory anthropology courses to adult learners on non –accredited courses, and has a stage 1 teaching qualification in this field.‌

Suggested Reading List

Reading material will be provided by your tutor but the following texts provide good introductions to the themes and issues examined throughout the first term of this course.

Barnard, A. 2006. Social Anthropology: Investigating Human Social Life. Abergele: Studymates. ISBN: 1-84285-084-9

Barnard, A. 2011. Social Anthropology and Human Origins. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 978-0-521-74929-9

Delaney, Carol & Kaspin, Deborah. 2011. Investigating Culture: An Experiential Introduction to Anthropology. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN: 1-405-15424-1

Eriksen, Thomas. 2001. Small Places, Large Issues. London: Pluto. ISBN: 0-745- 31772-3

Fedorak, Shirley. 2008. Anthropology Matters!. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN: 1-442-60108-6

Hendry, Joy. 1999. An Introduction to Social Anthropology: sharing our worlds. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN: 0-230-00527-6

Hendry, J. & S. Underdown. 2012. Anthropology: A Beginner’s Guide. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. ISBN: 978-185168-930-9.

MacClancey, J (ed.). 2002. Exotic No More: Anthropology on the Front Lines. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 0-226-50013-6

Peters-Golden, H. 2012. Culture Sketches: Case Studies In Anthropology. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 978-0-07-811702-2

Robbins, R. 2009. Cultural Anthropology: A Problem-Based Approach. Belmont: Wadsworth. ISBN: 978-0-495-50928-8

Salzman, P. & P. Rice (eds.). 2011. Thinking Anthropologically: A Practical Guide for Students. London: Prentice Hall. ISBN: 978-0-205-79271-9



Booking information

Please note that our short courses sell-out quickly, so early booking is advisable. 

Starting date, Wednesday 16 Jan 2019
6.30-8.30pm | 10 Weeks
Starting date, Wednesday 1 May 2019
6.30-8.30pm | 10 Weeks


If you have any questions about this course please contact shortcourses ( .

For information on our upcoming short courses please sign up to our mailing list.


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