The BA Social Anthropology Degree focuses largely on the study of the developing world, from remote communities to more recent urban development. We are curious about the world and innovative in our approach to finding new solutions to recurring problems. Studying the programme at SOAS is unique as it draws from our expertise in a plethora of humanities subjects including sociology, philosophy, linguistics, literature, and history. If you are interested in nurturing a better understanding of what it is to be human in the complex world in which we live, then this discipline is suited to you.
Why study Social Anthropology at SOAS?
- our Anthropology Department is among the most respected in the field of social and cultural anthropology in the UK
- draw on the exceptional regional expertise of our academics in Asian, African, and Middle Eastern languages and politics, many of whom joined us with a practical working knowledge of their disciplines
- our alumni and academics have an impact on the world outside of academia including within law, politics, media and the arts
- we are specialists in the delivery of languages. Your command of a language at SOAS will set you apart from graduates of other universities
- you will be able to flexibly structure your programme using our Open Options modules to take advantage of the expertise of our other departments, including the opportunity to learn the regional language
Apply now via UCAS or visit our upcoming Open Day.
Find out more about how to apply.
Find out more on our Anthropology and Sociology department page.
Programme Code: L600 BA/SA
Start of programme: September
Mode of Attendance: Full-time
- Mature students may be considered on the basis of alternative qualifications and experience. We do not require applicants to have particular disciplinary backgrounds.
- Interview Policy: Candidates with ‘non-standard’ qualifications usually invited
- A Levels:
- 35 (665 at HL)
View alternative entry requirements
Access to HE: Minimum of 30 Level 3 Credits at Distinction
Scottish Highers: AAABB
Scottish Advanced Highers: AAB
Irish LC: 340 points from 5 Higher level subjects at grade C1 or above
Advanced Placement: 4 4 5 (Two semesters - UCAS Group A) plus US HSGD with GPA 3.0
Euro Bacc: 80%
French Bacc: 14/20
German Abitur: 2.0
Italy DES: 80/100
Austria Mat: 2.0
Polish Mat: Overall 75% including 3 extended level subjects
- 3 years - single honours degree
Students take 120 credits per year composed of core, compulsory and optional modules.
All students are expected to take the core and compulsory modules.
Students are entitled to select up to 30 credits of open option modules per year. These modules are based in other departments within the School, either in another subject or a language option.
All students are expected to complete the following compulsory modules, totaling 90 credits.
All students are expected to complete the following compulsory modules, totaling 45 credits.
Choose related Language or Non-Language Open Option modules to a total of 30 credits
Choose module(s) from Year 2 Option List below to a total of 45 credits
Choose a total of 30 further credits from the Year 2 Option List or any related Language or Non-Language Open Option modules
All students are expected to take the following compulsory module worth 45 credits.
Choose modules from Year 3 Option List below to a total of 45 credits
Choose a total of 30 further credits from the Year 3 Option List and/or any related Language or Non-Language Open Option modules
Ethnography of a Selected Region Modules
Year 2 Option List
Year 3 Option List
The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.
Teaching & Learning
All full-time undergraduate programmes consist of 120 credits per year, in modules of 30 or 15 credits. They are taught over 10 or 20 weeks. The programme structure shows which modules are compulsory and which optional.
As a rough guide, 1 credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. Most of this will be independent study (see Approaches to teaching and learning at SOAS). It will also include class time, which may include lectures, seminars and other classes. Some subjects, such as learning a language, have more class time than others. In the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, most undergraduate modules have a one- or two-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar every week.
More information is on the page for each module.
The modules 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 and East Africa are available.
Modules are typically taught through a combination of lectures and tutorials, usually one hour a week of each. (Core modules have 2 hour lectures). Sometimes, one follows the other in a two-hour bloc. Sometimes, the tutorial is at a different time or on a different day than the lecture.
Tutorials are sessions in which students are expected to present reports and take a lead in discussions.
Depending on the size of the class, some intermediate and advanced level modules are less strictly divided between a formal lecture and a tutorial discussion, and instead, the topic is briefly introduced by the lecturer, followed by a seminar discussion. Advanced level modules, which are usually taught in one two-hour bloc, often take this format.
The Independent Study Project (ISP)
These can be taken by final-year students only. Like the Special Subject dissertation, its aim is to provide an opportunity for students to conduct original historical research on their own initiative, to engage in in-depth analysis of particular subjects and to use a range of primary historical sources. It too involves no formal classes and is assessed by a single 10,000-word dissertation (including notes but excluding bibliography).
SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.
Pre Entry Reading
- Balzani, Marzia and Niko Besnier, An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology, Routledge, 2016
- Delaney, Carol, An Experiential Introduction to Anthropology, Blackwell, 2004
- Eriksen, Thomas H., Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology, Pluto Press, 2015
- Herzfeld, Michael, Anthropology, Theoretical Practice in Culture and Society, Blackwell, 2001
- Kuklick, Henrika, A New History of Anthropology, Blackwell, 2008
- Kuper, Adam, Anthropology and Anthropologists, Routledge, 1996
- Monaghan, John, and Peter Just, Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2000
- Moore, Henrietta L. (ed.), Anthropological Theory Today, Polity Press, 1999.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.
A degree from the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at SOAS will develop your understanding of the world, other peoples’ ways of life and how society is organised.
Skills gained include:
- methods of social anthropological investigation
- linguistic familiarity
- the ability to think laterally and employ critical reasoning
- analytical skills
- problem-solving skills
- the ability to formulate sound arguments
- ability to interpret and explain complex information clearly
- communication and presentation skills
Graduates go on to work in areas such as information and technology, government service, teaching or work in the media and tourism. Others are interested in specialising further through postgraduate studies.
Find out more about Anthropology Graduate Destinations.
Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including a range of NGOs, charitable and voluntary sector organisations:
- The New York Times
- British Council
- Social Mobility Foundation
- IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development)
- Action on Hearing Loss
- Hackney Migrant Centre
Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:
- Gender Violence Outreach Worker
- Film Editor
- Dance Therapist
- Web Developer
- Food Bank Organiser
- Project Officer
- School and College Relations Officer
- Junior Analyst
- Radio Production Assistant
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.