SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Virtual Classroom

Here you will find a variety of exercises, sample lectures, and information about anthropology. The Virtual Classroom will give you an idea of what studying anthropology at SOAS is like, and give you some suggestions for developing your anthropological interests and ethnographic skills.  Have a look at the exercises and lectures you find most interesting. There’s so much to explore through anthropology in our department, and this site can only give you a little taste.  Anthropology offers new ways of asking questions about the world, new tools to explore it, and can open up doors to all kinds of different places and ways of being. Some of the reading material might seem difficult or confusing. These readings are meant to be challenging, and we don't expect you to understand it all straight away. If you’ve already been accepted to our program, this material will help you get ready for your first year of studies here.  

What do anthropologists do?

What do anthropologists do? We do a lot of things, but primary activities include participant-observation fieldwork, ethnographic interviews, and taking field notes.  To give you an idea of what this looks like, we’ve invited a post-doctoral researcher to conduct an interview with one of our professors. Watch this ethnographic interview here, to learn what a professional anthropological interview is like. There are also some interview transcripts from faculty research

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Ethnographic Interview


Fieldnotes are a big part of an anthropologist’s “data.” We record what we see, hear, feel, notice every day we’re in the field. Then we think about what patterns we see emerging, what new puzzles are suggested, what new words we need to learn, and much more. Have a look at the authentic anthropological fieldnotes attached to this page, some of which have accompanying notes and analysis. What can you learn about society, politics, creativity, crises, why people do the things they do, from every day observation?

Sample Anthropological Fieldnotes (pdf; 514kb)  


Here are some sample lectures by SOAS instructors. There’s more to witchcraft and astrology than you might think.

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Taster Lecture on Astrology and Culture

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Taster Lecture on Witchcraft


Teaching and learning is not all talking and being talked at. SOAS is unique for its seminar style of teaching, where students and teachers engage in conversation to learn new ways of thinking and asking questions of texts, the world, and each other. Watch this sample seminar on anthropological approaches to gender here.

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Taster Seminar on Gender

Secondary Literature

To help you to understand more about how to evaluate anthropological analysis, try our secondary literature exercises. You’ll be doing a lot of this as a student in our department.

Suggested Reading

To learn more about how and what to read to develop your knowledge and skills as an anthropologist, please visit the suggested reading page.