Making the familiar strange, and the exotic familiar
Social Anthropology explores the cultural grounding of social life. By studying people who are ‘not like us’ – from whichever group of people it is that ‘we’ as researchers might belong – anthropologists learn about the surprising differences in everyday living around the world.
Otago offers a range of interesting and challenging study options within Social Anthropology. Visit our webpage to see our courses in Pacific cultures, friendship, reproduction and kinship, the anthropology of money, rites of passage, death studies, health studies, sex, cultural politics, religion and the supernatural, and anthropological technique and theory.
Learn about other groups of people and, in the process, find out more about yourself.
Apply for the Bachelor of Arts (BA) through the Dunedin campus in 2022Apply Now
Apply for the Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom) through the Dunedin campus in 2022Apply Now
Apply for the Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) through the Dunedin campus in 2022Apply Now
Apply for the Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons)) through the Dunedin campus in 2022Apply Now
Apply for the Diploma for Graduates (DipGrad) through the Dunedin campus in 2022Apply Now
Apply for the Master of Archaeological Practice (MArchP)Apply Now
Apply for the Master of Arts (Coursework) (MA(Coursework))Apply Now
Apply for the Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis))Apply Now
Apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) through the Dunedin campus in 2022Apply Now
Why study Social Anthropology?
Anthropology will broaden your understanding of the human condition and how this is changing around the world. What are the patterns by which people organise their lives? How do ideas of difference and sameness come about? How does the movement of people through a globalised world impact the meaning and experience of culture and our sense of belonging and heritage?
Anthropologists ask questions about human variation and human differences. They study issues that affect different societies, such as changing economic and political arrangements of power, sustainable living alternatives, the tensions around community inclusion and exclusion, and the contributions of local revivalisms, resurgences and resistance to our changing worlds.
Anthropology gives you the academic tools to create meaningful connections with a wide diversity of people. You will learn to engage with cultural groups ethically and explain social life through systematic questioning and critical analysis.
There are no specific subjects you need to have studied at school in order to study Anthropology.
A Social Anthropology degree provides broad- based training that can lead to a wide range of careers. Students acquire a high level of expertise in sought-after skills. These include problem-solving, analysis of information, research and writing skills, emotional and ethical intelligence, independent thinking, project management, and expertise in audio- visual presentations.
Graduates in social anthropology find work in museums, as policy advisors for the government or local bodies, in community development, the police force, and project co-ordination and management for non- governmental organisations such as Volunteer Service Abroad.
Other interesting careers include journalism, film and media industries, foreign affairs, international aid, teaching, tourism, working with refugees, disaster relief, management, historic preservation, social impact assessment, environmental management – the list is almost endless.
There are also opportunities for pursuing careers specifically in Anthropology, such as working in universities, museums, consultancy, applied research, which require further postgraduate training after finishing the BA.
Social Anthropology at Otago
Anthropology has been taught as a major for the Bachelor of Arts (BA) since 1966. The major normally takes three years and requires a minimum of nine papers in the subject, out of 20 papers for a BA. We also offer our graduate students a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and
a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts, which are both one-year courses available following the completion of a BA. Those students who do not want to major in Anthropology can pick up some anthropology papers as part of their degree, or do a minor in the subject, which requires a minimum of five papers.
Two first-year papers provide an introduction to Anthropology:
ANTH 103 Introduction to Anthropology
An introduction to the fundamental concepts and history of general anthropology, including archaeology and social anthropology.
ANTH 105 Global and Local Cultures
Being human, and humane, in a world where worlds collide. An introduction to cultural studies of globalisation, multiculturalism, tourism, media.
At the second- and third-year levels of the degree, you will begin to specialise in the areas of social anthropology that interest you the most, drawing on the specialisations and research interests of our internationally recognised lecturing staff.
Topics include Pacific societies, current issues in anthropology, and the ethics, politics and practice of ethnographic representation, a chance for ‘hands-on’ learning through immersion in the ongoing friendship research project, cultural politics, grieving and ritual, new reproductive technologies, the anthropology of money, the study of religion and the supernatural, and ideologies of health.
These subjects lead to our strong postgraduate programme, which offers papers in the Anthropology of Evil, Transnationalism, Medical Anthropology, Anthropology and the Past, and independently studied research dissertations. Students may then continue to a Master of Arts or a PhD.
Our programme offers a relaxed intellectual exchange with staff dedicated to good learning outcomes for students. All of our staff are active researchers and award-winning teachers who incorporate their research findings into their teaching.
Double major/degree options
It is possible to qualify with an Anthropology degree in which all of the papers are social anthropology, although we recommend taking some archaeology papers.
In addition, some useful double major options include History, Classics, Politics, Film and Media Studies, Māori Studies, Pacific Studies, Languages, Gender, Sociology, Criminology, and Religious Studies. Social Anthropology (because of its diverse subject area) also combines well in double degrees with subjects in Commerce, Law, Science and Health Sciences.
The University of Otago has exchange agreements with more than 70 institutions in over 30 countries. If your marks average B or better, you may qualify to attend one of these institutions for one semester or one year. Exchange programmes are particularly beneficial to Anthropology students for the learning experience of deep immersion into another culture.
Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages.
- Bachelor of Arts (BA)
- Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom)
- Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc)
- Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons))
- Diploma for Graduates (DipGrad)
- Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts)
- Master of Archaeological Practice (MArchP)
- Master of Arts (Coursework) (MA(Coursework))
- Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis))
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Bachelor of Arts (BA) majoring in Anthropology
|100-level||Two 100-level ANTH papers||36|
Two further 200-level ANTH papers
Four 300-level ANTH papers
198 further points; must include 54 points at 200-level or above.
Up to 90 points may be taken from outside Arts
Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons)) in Anthropology
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) in Anthropology
Master of Arts (Coursework) (MA(Coursework)) in Anthropology
Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis)) in Anthropology
Note: Students who have not completed a Bachelor of Arts (BA(Hons)) in Anthropology or a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) in Anthropology must complete the required papers for the BA(Hons) in Anthropology prior to undertaking the thesis.
Minor subject requirements
Anthropology as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BAppSc, BCom, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree
Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree
|Five ANTH papers, at least three of which must be above 100-level, including at least one above 200-level||
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
Find out which papers are available and how to apply on our COVID-19 website
|Paper code||Year||Title||Points||Teaching period|
|ANTH103||2022||Introduction to Anthropology||18 points||Semester 1|
|ANTH105||2022||Global and Local Cultures||18 points||Semester 2|
|ANTH106||2022||Human Origins and Civilisations||18 points||Semester 2|
|ANTH203||2022||Asian Archaeology||18 points||Semester 2|
|ANTH204||2022||Pacific and New Zealand Archaeology||18 points||Semester 1|
|ANTH205||2022||Anthropology and the Contemporary Pacific||18 points||Not offered in 2022|
|ANTH206||2022||Anthropology of Globalisation||18 points||Semester 2|
|ANTH208||2022||Archaeological Methods||18 points||Semester 1|
|ANTH209||2022||Special Topic||18 points||Not offered in 2022|
|ANTH210||2022||Translating Culture||18 points||Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023|
|ANTH211||2022||Contemporary Ethnographic Research||18 points||Semester 1|
|ANTH222||2022||Conceiving Reproduction||18 points||Semester 1|
|ANTH223||2022||Anthropology of Health||18 points||Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023|
|ANTH225||2022||Rites of Passage: Death, Grief and Ritual||18 points||Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023|
|ANTH228||2022||Anthropology of Religion and the Supernatural||18 points||Semester 2|
|ANTH231||2022||The Emergence of Agriculture: An Archaeological Journey||18 points||Semester 2|
|ANTH310||2022||Special Topic||18 points||Not offered in 2022|
|ANTH312||2022||Cultural Politics||18 points||Semester 1|
|ANTH316||2022||Labour and Society||18 points||Not offered in 2022|
|ANTH317||2022||Historical Archaeology||18 points||Semester 2|
|ANTH321||2022||Archaeozoology||18 points||Semester 1|
|ANTH322||2022||Conceiving Reproduction||18 points||Semester 1|
|ANTH323||2022||Anthropology of Health||18 points||Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023|
|ANTH324||2022||Archaeological Practice||18 points||Semester 2|
|ANTH325||2022||Rites of Passage: Death, Grief and Ritual||18 points||Not offered, expected to be offered in 2023|
|ANTH326||2022||Special Topic: Sex and Culture||18 points||Not offered in 2022|
|ANTH327||2022||Anthropology of Money||18 points||Semester 2|
|ANTH328||2022||Anthropology of Religion and the Supernatural||18 points||Semester 2|
|ANTH329||2022||Landscape Archaeology||18 points||Semester 1|
|ANTH330||2022||New Zealand Archaeology||18 points||Semester 2|
|ANTH405||2022||Archaeological Excavation||20 points||1st Non standard period|
|ANTH409||2022||Material Culture Studies||20 points||Not offered in 2022|
|ANTH410||2022||Special Topic: Archaeological Science||20 points||Semester 1|
|ANTH411||2022||Special Topic:||20 points||Not offered in 2022|
|ANTH413||2022||Oceanic Prehistory||20 points||Not offered in 2022|
|ANTH423||2022||Bodies, Technologies and Medicines||20 points||Full Year|
|ANTH424||2022||The Anthropology of Evil||20 points||Not offered in 2022|
|ANTH425||2022||Anthropology of Transnationalism and Diaspora||20 points||Semester 1|
|ANTH427||2022||Archaeological Theory||20 points||Full Year|
|ANTH430||2022||Advanced New Zealand Archaeology||20 points||Semester 2|
|ANTH431||2022||People, Culture and Development||20 points||Semester 2|
|ANTH490||2022||Dissertation||60 points||Full Year|
|ANTH495||2022||Dissertation||60 points||Full Year|
|ANTH505||2022||Advanced Archaeological Excavation||30 points||1st Non standard period|
|ANTH550||2022||Archaeology and Heritage Practice||30 points||Full Year|
|ANTH590||2022||Research Dissertation||60 points||1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period|