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Department of Anthropology and Sociology

BA Social Anthropology and ...

Programme Code: See May Be Combined With Duration: 3 or 4 years - combined honours degree


2015 Entry Requirements

  • A Levels: AAA/AAB
  • IB: 37/35 666 665
  • Access to HE: Minimum of 30 Level 3 Credits at Distinction
  • Scottish Highers: AAAAA
  • Scottish Advanced Highers: AAA
  • Irish LC: 360 points from 5 Higher level subjects at grade C1 or above
  • Advanced Placement: 4 5 5 (Two semesters - UCAS Group A) plus US HSGD with GPA 3.0
  • Euro Bacc: 85%
  • French Bacc: 15/20
  • German Abitur: 1.5
  • Italy DES: 85/100
  • Austria Mat: 1.5
  • Polish Mat: Overall 80% including 3 extended level subjects

Minimum Entry Requirements: Mature students may be considered on the basis of alternative qualifications and experience. We do not require applicants to have particular disciplinary backgrounds.

Subjects Preferred: None

Start of programme: September

Social Anthropology is an academic discipline that in many respects straddles the social sciences and humanities. It both draws from and contributes to such disciplines as philosophy, linguistics and literature, as well as sociology and history.

The full title of the department of Anthropology and Sociology emphasises the range of our concern with Third World studies, from more remote communities to more recent urban development, avoiding any arbitrary distinction that may be implied by reference to either anthropology or sociology alone.

The BA Social Anthropology teaches the methods of social anthropological investigation, emphasising the detailed study of multiple, interwoven areas of social life, through long participation and linguistic familiarity. Students have a great deal of scope to tailor their programme of study according to their own interests.

3-year combined degrees:

African Studies, Bengali, Development Studies, Economics, Geography, Georgian, History, History of Art/Archaeology, Law, Linguistics, Music, Persian, Politics, Sinhalese, South Asian Studies, South East Asian Studies, Study of Religions, Tamil, Turkis

3- or 4- year combined degrees:

Burmese, Hindi, Indonesian, Nepali, Thai, Vietnamese

4-year combined degree:

Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, Hausa, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Swahili.

Key Information Set Data

The information for BA, BSc, or LLB programmes refer to data taken from the single subject degrees offered at SOAS; however, due to the unique nature of our programmes many subjects have a separate set of data when they are studied alongside another discipline.  In order to get a full picture of their chosen subject(s) applicants are advised to look at both sets of information where these occur.


May be combined with

+ 4-year degree with (compulsory) one year abroad
++ 3 or 4-year degree with option of one year abroad
* Taught at King’s College London


Most two-subject degrees take three years, but degrees including Arabic, Chinese, Hausa, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Swahili, Turkish and some South East Asian languages are taken over four years, with the first and second years mainly devoted to language study.

Two-subject degree students must take a minimum of 5 units in Anthropology.

Students take core courses which are designed to build up a knowledge of the history of the discipline and relevant theoretical, methodological and empirical aspects. They can choose from a range of optional courses.

Year 1: Two subject degree students take 2 introductory units and 2 units from their other subjects.

Year 2: Combined degree students do 2 compulsory units and 2 units from their other subject. The courses in this year are more advanced theoretically and offer a wide choice of ethnographies.

Year 3: The theoretical courses in this year are yet more advanced, and offer a wide range of themes. Contemporary Trends in the Study of Society is recommended for two subject students, but not compulsory. As an alternative, two-subject students may choose courses from the list of anthropology options, or take units from their other subject, subject to completing at least 5 units in anthropology overall.

Year 3 Option Units List

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

Year abroad

Students combining social anthropology with a language in a 4 year degree spend a year abroad

Teaching & Learning

The courses are taught by lectures and group discussions, the two often being taken by different teachers to provide a variety of angles on the subject. Students become active in class through their reading and essay-writing as well as their participation in discussion groups. Ethnographic studies of China, Japan, South East Asia, South Asia, the Near and Middle East, West Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa are available.

Pre Entry Reading

  • J La Fontaine, What is Social Anthropology, Edward Arnold, 1985
    An introduction explaining the scope, methods and aims of social anthropology and clears up some popular misconceptions, as well as providing a practical guide to available courses and the kinds of jobs open to a qualified anthropologist.
  • M Carrithers, Why humans have cultures: explaining anthropology and social diversity, OUP, 1992
  • A Cheater, Social Anthropology: an alternative introduction, Routledge 1989, 2nd edition
  • E R Leach, Social Anthropology, Fontana Masterguides (1976)
    A personalised introduction, giving one anthropologist's view of his subject and leading the reader through theory; humanity and animality; kinship; debt; power relationships; marriage and alliances thus formed; cosmology
  • I M Lewis, Social Anthropology in Perspective, Penguin 1976, 2nd edition
    Clear introduction to modern social anthropology as a comparative study of the beliefs and customs of alien societies as well as those more familiar native communities. The underlying theme is the social setting and cultural expression of identity.
  • D Pocock, Understanding Social Anthropology, Teach Yourself Series, Hodder and Stoughton, 1975
    This book introduces anthropology by promoting an awareness of the assumed notions that each one of us has about social values, and encouraging a consciousness and questioning of such values through the use of anthropological approaches and data.
  • J Hendry, An Introduction to Social Anthropology: other people's worlds, Macmillan 1999
    A good general introduction with useful explanation of jargon and clarification of many of the subject's main themes.


Students who study Social Anthropology develop a wide range of transferable skills such as research, analysis, oral and written communication skills.  

The communication skills of anthropologists transfer well to areas such as information and technology, the media and tourism. Other recent SOAS career choices have included commerce and banking, government service, the police and prison service, social services and health service administration. Opportunities for graduates with trained awareness of the socio-cultural norms of minority communities also arise in education, local government, libraries and museums.

Choosing to study a joint degree programme will increase the breadth of your knowledge, and will develop additional skills with which to further your studies of the Social Anthropology, or to make comparative study with other areas. Social Anthropology may be combined with a huge range of other disciplines.  For more information on the extra skills you will gain from your second subject, please see the relevant departmental page.

For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.

A Student's Perspective

SOAS is a brilliant place to study social anthropology. The broad range of ethnic backgrounds means I can constantly be in touch with many of the issues and topics raised in my study.

Atika Malik