SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Anthropology of Urban Space, Place and Architecture

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2016/2017
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 1 or Year 2
Taught in:
Term 2
The course introduces various approaches to studying space, place and architecture, and provides a framework for critically assessing the historical, cultural and social significance of these concepts. 

The principal aim is to challenge notions of ‘space’ as a reified entity which is conceptualised and inhabited in a universal manner, and to cultivate a more complex understanding of the processes through which humans manipulate form and space to produce the most visible, and perhaps most salient, component of any material culture.

In addition to studying theory and method in the anthropology of space, place and architecture, this course also demands firsthand investigation of the built environment. 

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

Students are required to engage in research that includes a brief but intense period of fieldwork in London. It is important to develop one’s project with a combined theoretical perspective and practical method; and to limit the scope of the project to something that can be realised in the allotted time.

In compliment to the written essays, students explore other mediums of communication in preparing their final oral and visual project presentations which include the use of photography, film, drawing, map-making, use of objects, creative installation etc.

A filmmaking and audio workshop is scheduled for all students early during the course in order that individuals might more effectively engage with non-textual forms of investigation and representation.

Scope and syllabus

The course is divided into two sections: 

  • Concepts and Theories
  • Themes and Places

The first section will examine a number of influential scientific, cognitive, social and anthropological theories of space, leading to the second section on specific themes related to urban space and regional case studies.

Method of assessment

90% Coursework ( 2 x pieces, 10% and 80%)  and 10% Oral Presentation.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules