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Undergraduate: Part IIA

There are People in the Cloud (Alexander Taylor, 2017)

Image: There are people in the cloud, Data centres, Alexander Taylor

For students taking the Human, Social and Political Science (HSPS) Tripos.

In Part IIA, students start gaining an in-depth understanding of the nature and extent of cultural and social diversity. The core papers are organised around kinship and economics; politics and religion; and the history and current orientations of anthropological theory. Students learn how anthropological research has been instrumental in transforming how we think about cultural and social diversity – as well as being introduced to the cutting-edge debates surrounding the questions that remain unanswered.

Note: Students taking optional papers should check their existing timetables for potential clashes prior to committing to doing a paper. 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 cannot be said of optional or borrowed papers offered outside Social Anthropology, where unavoidable clashes may ensue. It is up to the student to discuss this with their Director of Studies and decide on their option papers accordingly. Please also note that supervisions for all Social Anthropology papers (including optional ones) are organised by the Director of Studies and not centrally, by the Department.


Structure of the Course

Single-subject track

There are three compulsory papers. Paper SAN2 teaches students about the study of kinship and economics, religion and politics. Of course, social life cannot be easily divided into separate ‘fields’, and our teaching is designed to allow students to explore contexts in which they overlap, such as bridewealth and dowry (which combine marriage with economic exchange) and the use of religious movements for political protest.

Paper SAN3 provides a thorough grounding in anthropological and social theory. Students are introduced to a wide variety of approaches, and are encouraged to explore the ways in which they can be used, criticised, and combined.

The third core paper, SAN4, is the Anthropology of an Ethnographic Area in which students get a chance to specialise in the anthropology of a particular world region. Every year, three or four regional papers are available to choose from, each of which covers a broad range of topics and conceptual approaches.

Finally, students take a fourth paper, which they can choose from a wide variety of optional papers. These include specialist areas of Social Anthropology, and papers borrowed from elsewhere within the Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) Tripos and other Triposes – so there is plenty of scope to pursue individual interests!


Joint-subject tracks

Social Anthropology is unique among the HSPS subjects in that it can be combined with any other major subject in the joint track streams. Those who select one of the joint tracks in Part IIA have the option to specialise in Social Anthropology in Part IIB if they wish.

Social Anthropology and Politics
Required papers: SAN2
Choose one paper from: SAN3, SAN4 and SAN 7-14
Choose one paper from: POL3 or POL4
Choose one paper from: POL7 or POL8
Please see the Politics and International Relations website for more information on Politics papers.

Sociology and Social Anthropology
Required papers: SAN2
Choose one paper from: SAN3 or SAN4
Choose two papers from: SOC2, SOC3 or SOC 5

Please see the Sociology website for more information on Sociology papers. 


Final year dissertation

For those who wish to consider offering a dissertation in their final year the groundwork is best started early in the IIA year. Students conduct their own independent research project under the supervision of a member of staff which can be library-based, or archival – but it can also include the student’s own ethnographic work, usually conducted in the summer vacation between Part IIA and Part IIB. Any student considering this option can find out more about procedures, including Research Ethics and the submission of a Proposal to Submit a Dissertation Form (due in Easter of your IIA year) on the Part IIB Dissertation page.