UCL Anthropology


Departmental Learning and Teaching Strategy - 2011-15

Departmental Learning and Teaching Strategy


Anthropology has been described as the most scientific of the Humanities and the most humanistic of the Sciences. This description captures the diversity of research pursued in the UCL Anthropology department where areas of staff expertise include: palaeoanthropology, primatology, human ecology, medical anthropology, material culture studies (including museum studies and anthropology of art), ethnographic film and social anthropological work on subjects such as ethnicity, politics and religion in contemporary world societies. The department is one of only a few Anthropology departments in the UK offering broad-based anthropological teaching in Biological, Material Culture and Social Anthropology and received very high ratings in the last RAE exercise.

The department's goal is continually to strengthen this broad-based approach by promoting the highest quality of research in each subfield, developing new areas of research, new synergies between sub-disciplines, and exploring new approaches to the study of human life. This research-led environment informs teaching at all levels, and contributes to the development of student research projects.

Four different weekly seminars (Biological, Medical, Social, Material Culture) sustain a vital research culture. Members of staff and post-graduate students interact and discuss emerging ideas in the context of these seminar series along with a number of active and evolving research and reading groups. Post-graduate applicants recognize this vitality and elect to study at UCL Anthropology in increasing numbers to the point where UCL Anthropology is one of the largest centres in the world for PhD training in Anthropology.

The department is now housed in attractive and well-equipped accommodation, with state-of-the-art resources for palaeo-anthropology, ethnographic artefacts, audio-visual and other teaching. We have recently installed a digital lab as an essential contribution to our new Digital Anthropology MSc. This building offers an excellent teaching and learning environment that could help maintain the high quality and large number of undergraduate and postgraduate students' applications in past years. Student common-rooms facilitate productive exchanges between undergraduates and postgraduates. The diverse resources available at UCL and nearby in London (e.g. British Museum, British Library) make UCL an appealing destination for students at all levels.

The basic philosophy behind the Anthropology Department's approach to teaching and learning is that all its staff are professionals, enthusiastic about their subject and committed to finding good and appropriate ways of conveying that enthusiasm and teaching students - having all gone through a long apprenticeship of being taught themselves. Although certain core principles about assessments and feedback need to be adhered to, the department encourages all staff to develop their own ways of delivering their teaching, building on their experience elsewhere in the UK and the world, and developing out of their professional contacts and research. The diversity of the sub-disciplines and subject matters mean that a wide variety of teaching and assessment approaches are used and will continue to be fostered and there is strong respect for individuality in teaching style.

We foster continuity between past, present and future students and staff through a series of different alumni events and features. These include a regularly up-dated website with news and videos. A departmental newsletter was recently launched and is proving a successful avenue through which to alert past and present students of our activities. The scope of this newsletter will be extended over the next few years. The website and newsletter allow prospective and past students to gain a sense of the diverse professions that an anthropology degree leads to, as well as generating a community of UCL anthropologists. The alumni network is also a possible base from which future funding may be sourced for our new fellowship programme.

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