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Department of Social Anthropology


 Love, Marriage & Polygamy in Contemporary Malaysia

 Image:“Halal” Intimacy: Love, Marriage & Polygamy in Contemporary Malaysia', Nurul Huda Mohd Razif 

On this page:

Key Contact People

Staff Office Hours


Track and Paper Registration


Essays and Examinations


Teaching and Learning Statement

Student Wellbeing

Teaching and Content Warnings

Student Prizes

Student Complaint and Appeal Procedure

After the Undergraduate Degree


Key Contact People

For any Department related questions, concerns or suggestions, please see below:

The Director of Undergraduate Education, and chairman of the Department's Undergraduate Education Committee, is Professor Matei Candea ()

The Head of Department is Professor Sian Lazar (

Any administrative questions can be addressed to the Undergraduate Administrator on 

The Paper Coordinators can be found here.

Part II Social Anthropology Student members for 23 -24 are listed here.

For College-related issues, you should consult your Director of Studies or Tutor.


Academic Staff Office Hours

Please see staff profiles pages for details of Office Hours.


Part II Handbook for Social Anthropology 2023-24.

The 'Information for SAN Students' Moodle course is the central repository of any important information about your teaching and assessment. 


Registering on a Track and Paper Options

Students are required to complete an online registration form in Easter term to indicate the track and papers that they want to study the following academic year. The link to register your paper choices and further information on the paper combinations available are available on the HSPS website. The deadline to register your initial paper choices will be in the Easter term. 

Please ensure that you discuss your track and paper combinations with your Director of Studies prior to completing the online form.

SAN IIB Options guide 2024-25



The timetables for Social Anthropology lectures are available on our Timetables page. Please consult the timetables regularly, as any changes will be updated on the online timetable.

Whilst the Department of Social Anthropology works very hard to ensure that there are no clashes on core papers for single and joint tracks, the same is not possible for optional or borrowed papers offered outside Social Anthropology, where unavoidable clashes may occur. 


Supervision and Arrangements

1. Responsibilities, troubleshooting and feedback

In Cambridge, lectures and seminar teaching are the responsibility of the Faculties or Departments, and supervisions are the responsibility of the Colleges. All students have a Director of Studies in their College, and it is the responsibility of the Director of Studies to oversee the supervision arrangements for each of the papers taken by their students. Directors of Studies are, in turn, overseen by the Senior Tutor of each college, who has overall responsibility for the education and welfare of students.

Supervisions for all “SAN” Social Anthropology Papers are organised by Directors of Studies (DoSes) – the Department provides a list of recommended supervisors for each paper for DoS’s benefit, but DoSes are free to choose supervisors on or off this list. The Director of Undergraduate Education in Social Anthropology, (, can help Directors of Studies in finding supervisors and advise them on issues relating to supervision and supervisors more broadly.

Any queries or concerns relating to supervisions should be addressed by students to their Director of Studies. If your Director of Studies is struggling to resolve an issue with SAN supervision, they should contact the Director of Undergraduate Education in Social Anthropology, (, who can help advise on the issue. Students should also feel free to approach the Director of Undergraduate Education for advice if such issues arise.

2. Advice on arrangements, amount and timing of supervisions

In Social Anthropology, students are normally supervised by one supervisor across each paper, covering a range of topics and essay questions. This allows the supervisor to guide the students through the range of anthropological materials they encounter in lectures and their supervision work, ensuring continuity and a sense of coherence in students' engagement with a paper's broad concerns and themes. There may however be good reasons for Directors of Studies to change this convention in order to adapt to the needs and interests of particular students.

Experience shows that it is desirable for Directors of Studies to arrange for immediate contact between students and their supervisors at the beginning of term, to prevent students from falling behind and avoid unnecessary bunching of essays at the end of the term. In order to enable this, we advise students that towards the end of Easter term, they should give their Director of Studies an indication of what papers they hope to take in the subsequent year, as this allows Directors of Studies to begin to make provisional supervision arrangements for their students during the summer, so that students can hit the ground running in week one of Michaelmas.

If a student is uncertain about who is supervising them or has not heard from a supervisor for a Social Anthropology paper by the end of the first week of Full Term, they should immediately contact their Director of Studies. If they still have not heard from a supervisor by the second week of full term, students should again contact their Director of Studies, copying in the Director of Undergraduate Education in Social Anthropology ( (For every lecture series, lecturers in Social Anthropology try to provide sample supervision questions and readings so that students are able if need be to get started independently on supervision work as soon as the lectures begin. This is an emergency measure however and it is by far preferable for students to start under the guidance of their supervisors.)

Students should expect to receive approximately three supervisions a term for each core paper, and two supervisions a term for each optional paper. However, some students may benefit from more supervisions than this and others fewer – Directors of Studies in consultation with supervisors and students should adapt the workload to suit the needs and interests of individual students. Revision supervisions are often provided at the discretion of the Director of Studies and supervisors during the Easter Term. Please note: There are no supervisions for SAN4 (the Ethnographic Area Papers) because they are taught by seminar discussion, with students preparing seminar presentations instead of supervision essays through the course of the year. Course Coordinators for SAN4 papers will be on hand to guide students through this process and help Directors of Studies with any queries.


Essays and Examinations

For information on essays and examinations, including the HSPS Part II marking and classing criteria, the essay writing guide and information on the correct use of ethnographic materials, please see Essays and Exams.

For all University information please read the University Guide to the Examinations.  Please note all students should contact their Director of Studies at their college to register for examinations.

Information on the HSPS Faculty Data Retention Policy.



Online meetings

Please see our online meetings policy here.


Plagiarism Information

See our Copyright and Plagiarism here.


Health and Safety


Teaching and Learning Statement

Recorded Lectures

Experience in HSPS has been that the systematic and generalised availability of online recordings resulted in lessened course attendance and worse exam performance on the part of the students, reduced the space for creative and improvisational forms of delivery, and discouraged engagement with difficult or controversial political and ethical issues by undermining the space of relative intimacy and trust that lectures rely on. These considerations are particularly important for HSPS, where subjects regularly raise and require critical engagement with controversial and sensitive themes. A fuller account of these issues is given in the HSPS Statement on Recorded Lectures.

Lecture recordings will not therefore be provided as standard. Attending lectures in person is the best and easiest way to engage with – and get excited by – the course. Resources and advice for engaging with lectures, taking notes and cognate topics are provided here and your directors of studies will also be able to give you helpful guidance.

Students with relevant access needs will be able to request access to recordings of lectures or alternative reasonable adjustments with support from the Accessibility and Disability Resource Centre. Further information on the nature of these adjustments and how to access them can be found here.



Teaching and Content Warnings 

Social Anthropology encompasses the study of all aspects of human social life. Many of these are positive, and studying them can be a cheering and enlivening experience, but others of course are negative. So the discipline rightly seeks to address ethnographically and develop our understanding of a range of difficult phenomena including conflict and war, illness and disease, poverty, exploitation, oppression, abuse, and suffering in various forms. 

As responsible adults, students may need to exercise discretion in reading texts that deal with these matters, especially if they have personal experiences of any of these states of affairs. Of course, academic study can be empowering in relation to such experiences, so it would be a mistake to assume that material relating to one's personal experiences, even where those have been negative, should be avoided. In many cases, anthropologists and other social scientists are motivated to study difficult subjects precisely because they have such experience. That process can be challenging as well as rewarding. 

It would not be possible, even were it desirable, for the Department to anticipate which specific subjects might be personally difficult for some particular students. And the Department does not issue so-called 'trigger warnings' about specific academic materials. If individual students have concerns about their own reactions to specific thematic content, then in addition to exercising their own discretion (specific individual readings are virtually never absolutely required, and alternative topics and readings are generally available) they are encouraged to consult their supervisor, Director of Studies, or Tutor in confidence. 


Undergraduate Student Prizes

The Department of Social Anthropology awards prizes to students who show exceptional promise and achieve outstanding results in the subject. The following prizes are currently awarded by the Department. 

Audrey Richards Prize

For the best performance in the Part I examination in Social Anthropology.

Sue Benson Prize

For the most outstanding Part IIB dissertation in Social Anthropology.


Student Complaint and Appeal Procedure


Where a student is dissatisfied with any provision, action or inaction by the University, students are able to raise a complaint. Students are expected to initially raise a complaint with a suitable member of staff within the Department of Social Anthropology. In the first instance, this will be the Departmental Administrator, the Director of Undergraduate Education, or the Director of Graduate Education.  However, where the matter is serious or where students remain dissatisfied, a complaint can be made through the complaints process available at central University level. Complaints need to be raised in a timely way and within 28 days to ensure an effective remedy can be put in place. The University complaints procedure is detailed on the Student Complaints website and involves filing a formal complaint.


Mark Checks

Students may request a mark check for up to 28 days following the publication of their examination results by contacting their College Tutor who will approach the Department on their behalf to check the following:

  • check that they have been marked on all their answers and ensure all of their answer booklets etc have been marked by the assessors or examiners
  • check that their marks on individual scripts and other assessed work have been correctly recorded
  • check that any reasonable adjustments relating to Specific Learning Difficulties and the marking of their scripts and any other assessed work have been put in place.


After the Undergraduate Degree

If you are interested in taking your studies further, you should seek the advice of your supervisors and Director of Studies. You might wish to supplement your Social Anthropology with one of our specialist Master’s courses (MPhil in Social Anthropology, MPhil in Social Anthropological Research, the MPhil in HMS or the MRes).  Alternatively if you think about going on to professional training and fieldwork at PhD level (PhD). In either case, applications for places (at Cambridge or other universities) and for grants usually have to be made in the Michaelmas term in the academic year preceeding admission.

The Postgraduate Studies Prospectus is available on the Postgraduate Admissions website. The prospectus covers all postgraduate courses offered at Cambridge and incorporates all necessary documentation including graduate application and reference forms.

The Cambridge University Careers Service provides careers education, information and guidance to students and alumni of the University of Cambridge. Cambridge students, alumni and staff should register with the Careers Service for complete access to their services and website.

Information on upcoming vacancies, scholarships and funds are also posted on the noticeboards in the Common Room of the Social Anthropology building.