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Postgraduate Courses 2013-14

  • The following course options are for all Masters students, with the exception of those doing the MSc in Human Evolution and Behaviour.
  • The content of the course may vary each year.
  • Masters students must obtain permission from their individual Masters tutors to attend a particular optional course.
  • Optional courses for Masters students are run through 11/2 hour/2 hour specialist seminars but students are advised to attend the lectures associated with the options they choose, which are open to both postgraduate and undergraduate students.
  • Masters seminars will normally assume knowledge of the material presented in these open lectures, and deal with the issues raised at a more advanced level.
  • One extended essay is normally required for each option you take. Please check with your tutor for the requirements of your specific Masters programme.
  • Times of seminars can be by arrangement and as such will be confirmed at the first lecture for the course. Always check the online timetable for the time and place of the lectures.

Term 1 Options


ANTHGC09 - Anthropology and Photography

PG Seminar - Timetable

Prof Chris Pinney

This course has three central purposes: to provide a historical introduction to the way in which anthropologists have used photography, to provide a grounding in photographic theory, and to encourage students to think how they might best use photography in their own anthropological projects. We will explore how photography was used both before and after the systematization of fieldwork as the central anthropological method, explore criticisms of photography's "externality", and look at recent ethnographies of  "vernacular" photographic practices. The course is assessed by an essay and a portfolio.

ANTHGC10 - Transforming and Creating the World: Anthropological Perspectives on Techniques and Technology

PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Ludovic Coupaye

This seminar series will approach two interrelated topics: the first is the question of technology within anthropology and other social sciences. The second will consider objects as “processes-made-things”, that is, objects as the coalescence of what we call “practices”, “techniques”.  Technology is always about more than material production, but can in fact recruit and produce ontologies and meta-physics.  Through this perspective, we hope to investigate how an anthropology of techniques (disentangled from its colonial and determinist past) contributes to our understanding of the relations between material culture, environment and sociality. Our exploration might take us through a series of examples ranging from indigenous gardening systems to modern transport technology, and from carving or cooking to rituals and magical operations, as well as digital technology. Complementing contemporary approaches of material culture, and issues of heritage, environment, development and technical innovation, these anthropological analyses of techniques show how to link body, mind and materiality through the course of choices, strategies, and actions on materials.

ANTHGC25 - Advanced Topics in Digital Culture: Ethnographies of the Digital

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Stefana Broadbent, Dr Haidy Geismar

The course will present recent ethnographies of emerging digital practices and discuss the social contexts in which they are developing. Some of the areas we will cover are the use of digital channels in migration, the impact of ICT in the workplace, online virtual communities and gaming, new digital property forms and economies, and new processes of digitization. Key questions asked are: what is new and different about our engagement with digital technologies? Do digital technologies and practices alter or perpetuate continuities in social relationships, hierarchies and political structures? What does it mean to be off line in a digital age? What kinds of new subjectivities and publics do digital practices bring into being? All of this will be folded into a wider discussion about developing critical tools and methods to understand emergent digital worlds.

ANTHGD12 - Medical Anthropology

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Joe Calabrese

This course provides a framework by topic on which to construct an analysis of medicine and human wellbeing as practiced in any one system of healing--cosmopolitan, traditional, or hybrid. Examples and readings are drawn from a range of contemporary cultures as well as from ‘classic’ ethnographic texts, addressing in particular how diverse forms of embodiment challenge the anthropologist as participant observer. The course focuses on the ‘therapeutic triangle’ of patient, healer, and community, as well as the manner in which each of these components functions in the construction of illness and wellbeing. In addition, the course examines the cognitive construction of illness and medical expertise, the epistemologies of healing and healing systems, and the ways in which risk and efficacy are understood and managed in therapeutic encounters by individuals and groups.

ANTHGD22 - Anthropology of Ethics and Morality

PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Joanna Cook

This course will critically engage with recent medical anthropological work addressing the role of ethics and morality in anthropological practice and ethnographic endeavor. In this course we will unpack the problematics of medical anthropology’s engagement with ethics and morality, examining the questions surrounding morality and ethics as a result of developing an academically rigorous and socially engaged discipline, and the effects of taking concerns for well-being and the good life seriously as the focus of ethnographic enquiry.

ANTHGE02 - Ecology of Human Groups

PG Seminar – Timetable

Prof Katherine Homewood

This course introduces the ecology of four different types of rural production system in less developed countries: Gathering/hunting societies, farmers, pastoralists and fishers. The course combines social and natural sciences approaches to the study of rural populations in developing countries. Starting with rather separate bodies of knowledge the course aims to integrate insights and perspectives from the different disciplines as the course goes along. You may find the following journals useful general browsing: Human Ecology, Development and Change.

Meetings commonly involve an hour of staff talks outlining general principles behind the topic, and an hour of student presentations and discussion - these are backed up by several hours directed reading each week. 

ANTHGE03 - Population and Development

PG Seminar - Timetable

Prof Sara Randall

The course introduces students to a range of development related issues in population through examining topical issues, which are relevant to development and development interventions with a particular focus on fertility and mortality in developing countries. Data collection methods are a constant theme and we reflect on how these influence both academic and interventionist perspectives on population. There is an introductory meeting followed by 10 seminars where students are expected to present key issues from articles they have read, followed by more general discussion. Students may choose to also attend some of the Population Studies (ANTH7005) lectures in Term 1. Each student will submit two essays. The one with the higher mark will be put forward for assessment

ANTHGE05 - Resource Use and Impacts

PG Seminar - Timetable

Prof Katherine Homewood

This core course focuses on key conceptual issues and methodological tools in the anthropological study of human ecology, environment and development. The aim of the course is to use an interdisciplinary approach, based on current research by contributing staff, to provide students with an overview of some of the current approaches to environmental issues , particularly in less developed countries; and the implications that contrasting understandings have for management and development.

ANTHGH07 - Anthropological and Archaeological Genetics

PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Andrea Migliano

The development of molecular techniques for the analysis of DNA has proved to be rapid over the last 30 years, especially over the last 5 to 10 years, and many of these new methods are now finding applications in the fields of Anthropology and Archaeology. These applications include the study of inherited diseases, determination of kinship patterns within and between populations, the reconstruction of past population movements and the study of infectious diseases in past populations. In addition, patterns of genetic variation have enabled researchers to address questions relating to the origins of modern humans and the relationship between humans and other primates. This course will cover the nature of genetic material, genetic variation, mutation, molecular methodologies (including ancient DNA techniques) and some of the demographic questions being tackled using those molecular techniques.

ANTHGH15 - Primate Socioecology

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Prof Volker Sommer

The course focuses on current Darwinian theories about the evolution of primate societies. About 250 species including humans belong to this mammalian order. Like all animals, they are faced with the problems of how to survive, breed and rear offspring. Some animals do better in this regard than others - they have a higher reproductive success and their genetic information is more frequently represented in future generations. The social behaviour of primates is particularly complex and can be viewed as reflecting attempts to maximise genetic fitness. The course asks how primates organise their social and reproductive strategies to adapt to specific environmental conditions and how these challenges are reflected in their cognitive abilities. The course also creates awareness for the plight of our closest living relatives as their existence on this planet is increasingly endangered.

ANTHGH16 - Palaeoanthropology

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Matthew Skinner

This course introduces the fossil evidence for human evolution and its interpretation. Beginning with an introduction to techniques of species recognition and phylogenetic reconstruction, the weekly seminar will address the precursors to hominins in Miocene, the earliest members of the hominin lineage, australopithecines, the origins of the genus Homo, the spread of Homo out of Africa, the appearance of Neanderthals, and the origins of our own species, Homo sapiens.The laboratory sessions aim to familiarize you with (1) the relevant comparative anatomy, (2) the casts of the relevant fossils, and (3) the methodology and techniques necessary to interpret the fossil material.

ANTHGS03 - Risk, Power and Uncertainty

PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Allen Abramson

This course sets out to explore risk, power and uncertainty. Why so? Because, increasingly, late modern settings come to be specified and evaluated in terms of the hazards, risks and uncertainties they appear to generate: more so, perhaps, than the inequities, oppressions and alienations that formerly characterised the social analysis of modern malaise. The extent of this shift; the reasons for it; the place of power in its operation; its socio-cultural (and indeed, cosmological) implications are all matters of controversy that need to be rigorously examined. The course begins with a brief survey of pre-modern notions of fate, destiny and magical protection; moves onto consider key contributions in the anthropology of risk (Douglas); assesses the applicability of the concept of 'chaos' in socio-cultural anthropology; and concludes with a critical examination of the sociology of 'the risk society' (Beck) and associated ideas. The second part of the course tackles a series of special issues chosen from areas of science, environment, medicine, politics, marginality, material culture, art, finance, gambling and extreme play. It is intended that the course will link together social, biological and material cultural trends in contemporary anthropology.

ANTHGS16 - Anthropology of Nationalism, Ethnicity and Race

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Ruth Mandel

This course focuses on theories and practices of ethnicity, race and nationalism. The reading material is divided between theoretical work on these issues and a variety of ethnographic examples. Though most of the readings are contemporary, historical sources will be used as well. The course will combine lectures, seminar discussion, student presentations, and a few relevant films. Attendance at all sessions is a requirement.

ANTHGS17 - Documentary Film and the Anthropological Eye

PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Mark Le Fanu

Through the presentation of a range of ethnographic, documentary, fiction and ‘current affairs/news’ films (including historic material) we will explore the ways in which film can frame and convey ethnographic investigation. We will look at the basic possibilities and limitations of film for going beyond traditional written ethnography to communicate the significance, style and substance of other modes of life as well as considering film as a distinct means to explore social interaction through what you might describe as its ‘call to performance.’

Against the grain of current trends, rather than read films ‘intertextually,’ or as part of a closed world of ‘discourse’ we will endeavour, together, to discover the historical and social contexts in which filmic ethics and aesthetics have developed. It has become fashionable to lament a past when ethnographers were ‘orientalists.’ One of the dangers of such interpretive strategies is that they tend to glorify ourselves in a distorted mirror of ‘post modern otherness’. This course will encourage you to question such naïve (and patronising) approaches.

ANTHGS20 - Practical Ethnographic and Documentary Filmmaking

PG Lecture - Timetable

Vikram Jayanti & Richard Curling

The course will train students in the practical and creative skills of video and digital technology to represent and document social and ethnographic research to a broadcast standard. Each student will be assessed on the quality of a 10-15 minute short documentary to be devised, shot and edited during the course by each student. This course will entail a lab fee for UCL students of £1,025 on top of any fee for a Masters degree to cover the staff costs of putting on this course. Students will have full access to the UCL Anthropology Audio Visual lab with 11 Final Cut Pro enabled Macs as well as cameras for the duration of the course. Students and others from outside UCL may take this course, for an unsubsidised rate of £1,500. Students who bring their own cameras will be reimbursed £180. 

If you wish to take part in this module, either as a part of your Masters degree at UCL or otherwise, you will need to make a £500 deposit to secure your place. The deposit is strictly non-refundable, so please only make the payment if you are fully committed to taking the module. To make the deposit please contact Paul Carter-Bowman (p.carter-bowman@ucl.ac.uk).

ANTHGT03 - Mass Consumption and Design

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Adam Drazin

The course examines the key historical literature on mass consumption and critical approaches to the theory of culture as a form of objectification. We then evaluate the ways in which the paradigm of design as a cultural field continues or replaces the paradigm of consumption in social relationships and identities. The course covers ethnographic studies of the role of goods in everyday life, as well as examinations of the role of corporations and multinationals and goods as mediators of their presence in social life. (The course replaces, and partly continues, the older option in media and mass consumption)


Term 2 Options


ANTHGC12 - Anthropology of the Built Environment

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Victor Buchli

Buildings are good to think. This course will explore anthropological approaches to the study of architectural forms. It will focus primarily on the significance of domestic space and public private boundaries, gender and body, the materiality of architectural form and materials and the study of architectural representations. The course will be structured chronologically beginning with early anthropological encounters with built forms and the philosophical, historical and social context of these approaches up to the present day within anthropology.

ANTHGC13 - Anthropology of Art and Design

PG Seminar - Timetable

Prof Susanne Kuechler

The course is aimed at those who wish to deepen their understanding of the material in visual culture. It provides an overview of 19th century theory of style and reveals the long shadow it cast on contemporary art. Both theoretically and materially, the course will focus on 'assemblage' art, tracing phenomena such as the 'scrap-book', collage, and recyclia in western culture as well as contemporary 'non-western' examples as found mainly in the culture of Voodoo, and in the cultures of Oceania.

ANTHGC21 - Social Construction of Landscape

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Prof Chris Tilley

Landscapes are never inert: people engage with them, re-work them, appropriate them and contest them. They are part of the way in which identities are created and disputed. Criss-crossing between history and politics, social relations and cultural perceptions, landscape is a ‘concept of high tension’. It is also an area of study that blows apart from conventional boundaries between disciplines. This course looks at the number of theoretical approaches to the Western Gaze; colonial, indigenous and prehistoric landscapes; contested landscapes; and questions of heritage and ‘wilderness’.

ANTHGD10 - Anthropologies of Science, Society and Biomedicine

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Sahra Gibbon

This course will critically engage with recent anthropological research and theory addressing the social and cultural context of novel developments in the field of genetics, biotechnology and the life/medical sciences.  These shape shifting arenas of science and technology and their actual or predicted implications for questions of disease risk, collective/individual identity and the politics and ethics of health care has been the focus of much recent research within medical anthropology, STS (Science and Technology Studies) and the anthropology of science.  The course incorporates emerging research in different national contexts that include the ‘global south’ drawing on ethnographic work in Asia and South America to provide a critical comparative perspective on these transnational developments. 

ANTHGD11 - Anthropology and Psychiatry

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Prof Roland Littlewood

Through a series of seminars involving personal reading and presentation, the course examines (a) popular understandings of psychology, self-hood and abnormal experience in different societies, and how they may be organised into a body of knowledge; (b) the relationship between popular and professional notions of "mental illness" and their roots in the wider social, economic and ideological aspects of particular societies, with particular respect to women and minority groups; (c) the contribution of academic psychology, psychiatry and psychoanalysis to social anthropology.The subjects include the development of colonial psychiatry and of ethno psychiatry; the experience and classification of sickness and dysphoria; is therapy universal?; the cultural specificity of abnormal experience and social response; psychoactive substance use; the self, its body and its emotional states; gender and mental illness; racism and mental illness-symbolic embodiments; psychoanalysis and anthropology.

ANTHGD21 - Ritual Healing and Therapeutic Emplotment

PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Joe Calabrese

This course covers ritual healing practices and "emplotment" in therapeutic narratives in small scale societies and in modern biomedical settings. It will include discussions of ritual, symbolism, narrative, clinical care, postcolonial revitalization movements, spirit possession, and the social production and ethnographic description of healing experiences in sociopolitical context. The course will combine the perspectives of medical anthropology, psychological anthropology and the social anthropology of religion and ritual.

ANTHGD23 - Reproduction, sex and sexuality

PG Seminar - Timetable

Prof Sara Randall

The course will apply different theoretical and disciplinary approaches to the study of contemporary issues in reproduction, sex and sexuality.

Each week will examine a different theme with readings from different perspectives (medical anthropology, demography, biological anthropology, social anthropology, biomedical sciences, psychology etc.)

  1. Sex, sexuality and gender
  2. NRTs
  3. Love hormones and bonding
  4. Sterility and infertility
  5. Pregnancy loss: miscarriage, still birth, abortion
  6. Adolescent sex and reproduction
  7. Breastfeeding
  8. Migration, reproduction and care
  9. Low fertility

Students will also be expected to identify a reading of their own each week and circulate a summary.

ANTHGE06 - Anthropology of Development

PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Marc Brightman

The course will cover major topics in the anthropology of development. The course will look at debates about the aims and purpose of development and consider questions about what makes a good society and what is ‘good change’.  This will be contrasted with the actual workings of the development industry in the context of greater processes of international political economy and globalization. The course will explore anthropological critiques of development from a wide range of angles and variety of scales (international, national, local, project). It will use a broad range of ethnographic material to look at both the workings of the development industry and its impacts on the people it seeks to benefit.

ANTHGH02 - Advanced Human Evolution

PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Matthew Skinner

This course is designed to introduce students to current research and a selection of analytical/methodological techniques in the field of human evolution. The topics covered change each year to reflect current discoveries and/or the application of new lines of analysis. There is also an emphasis on the expertise of the course tutor. In addition to short lectures and a seminar, which focus on understanding and critical assessment of methodologies employed in reaching conclusions about our evolutionary past, students will also receive practical training in methods such as: paleoanthropologically relevant multivariate statistical techniques, laser surface scanning, dental microwear, cut-mark analysis, using CT scans of fossils, and basic geometric morphometric techniques. As part of the course students will also be given the opportunity to undertake a small project to allow them to gain further experience in a particular methodological approach that interests them.

ANTHGH14 - Human Behavioural Ecology

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Andrea Migliano

This course is about the evolution of behaviour in humans. It examines how much of the variation in human behaviour can be understood in terms of maximizing reproductive success in different ecological and social circumstances. There is increasing recognition that Darwinian approaches can contribute to our understanding of human demography, health, psychology and culture, in hunter-gatherer, traditional and modern agricultural and post-industrial societies. The course will cover those aspects of our behaviour and life history that have parallels in numerous species, and also those that are uniquely human (such as menopause and the demographic transition), including how cultural evolution has influenced our behaviour.

ANTHGH17 - Primate Evolution

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Christophe Soligo

The course will focus on key events/phases of primate evolution, from the origin of the order through to the modern day.  Specific topics will be chosen each year following the latest developments in the field, but will tend to focus on central issues, in particular the environmental and chronological context of major clade diversifications and the ways in which environmental variability has shaped aspects of primate evolution.  As such, the module will aim to communicate knowledge of issues of key current interest including the natural patterns of environmental change and past biotic responses to such change in primate evolution.

ANTHGS18 - Language, Gender and Culture

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Alexandra Pillen

This course explores the linguistic construction of gendered cultures. It is built around a set of key ethnographies on language and gender:

  • Veiled sentiments - Abu-Lughod
  • The hidden life of girls – Goodwin
  • Masking terror – Argenti
  • Vicarious language – Inoue
  • Pronouncing and persevering – Hirsch
  • Eloquence in trouble - Wilce
  • I could speak until tomorrow – Barber
  • Gender in Crisis - Peteet
  • In the realm of the diamond queen - Tsing
  • Beauty and power – Johnson

The lectures include multi-media presentations, and draw on theory within contemporary linguistic anthropology. First of all we consider linguistic relativism, and the language socialization of boys and girls in differing cultural contexts. This initial debate provides a framework to consider gendered affective regimes, soundscapes, and verbal art. Finally, we consider the impact of rapid cultural change, globalization and modernization on language and gender: the loss of genres/gender, the postmodern construction of voices, and emerging rhetorical and ironic selves.

ANTHGS25 - Practical Documentary Filmmaking (Lab-based)

PG Lecture - Timetable

Lasse Johansson

The course will train students in the practical and creative skills of video and digital technology to represent and document social and ethnographic research to a broadcast standard. Each student will be assessed on the quality of a 10-15 minute short documentary to be devised, shot and edited during the course by each student. This course will entail a lab fee for UCL students of £1,025 on top of any fee for a Masters degree to cover the staff costs of putting on this course. Students will have full access to the UCL Anthropology Audio Visual lab with 11 Final Cut Pro enabled Macs as well as cameras for the duration of the course. Students and others from outside UCL may take this course, for an unsubsidised rate of £1,500. Students who bring their own cameras will be reimbursed £180. 

If you wish to take part in this module, either as a part of your Masters degree at UCL or otherwise, you will need to make a £500 deposit to secure your place. The deposit is strictly non-refundable, so please only make the payment if you are fully committed to taking the module. To make the deposit please contact Paul Carter-Bowman (p.carter-bowman@ucl.ac.uk).

ANTHGS26 - Communication & Culture

PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Luke Freeman

This course introduces students to the complexity of human communication. It provides an introduction to some apparently universal underpinnings of interpersonal communication such as inference, innovation, and influence. The ethnographic study will be drawn from readings on a series of communicative modes such as deception, irony, rhetoric and joking. The question that lies behind the course is, ‘What does the study of communication tell us about culture?’

ANTHGS27 - Alternative & Ritual Economies

PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Rebecca Empson

How do different kinds of economic modalities relate to other forms of social life, including rituals and politics? This course covers the basics, from the formalist/substantivist debate and gift/commodity exchange, to explore recent works on ritual economies in post-socialist and post-colonial contexts, as well as the commodification of forms of care and intimacy. In doing so we will look at the kinds of things being exchanged and the social relations produced out of these exchanges, as well as the circulation of different forms of value.


Dual Term Options


ANTHGS21 - Statistics and Causal Analysis for Qualitative Social Scientists

PG Lecture - Timetable

Dr Lucio Vinicius

This course introduces statistics and the R language from their very basics. The course assumes no background knowledge of either statistics or statistical software. Topics covered in the first module (Term 1) include an introduction to statistics in R, distributions, hypothesis testing (t-tests, proportion tests, ANOVA), correlation, linear regression, multivariate statistics (multiple regression, PCA, discriminant analysis) and logistic regression. The second, more advanced module (Term 2) introduces survival analysis, Poisson regression, non-linear curve fitting, phylogenetic methods, mixed effects models, and multilevel analysis. It is expected that at the end of the two modules students will be familiar with the quantitative methods most frequently used in Anthropological research.


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