Module Catalogue 2019/20

SOC1027 : Comparing Cultures

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Sarah Winkler-Reid
  • Lecturer: Dr Anselma Gallinat
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module introduces students to anthropology which is the study of human diversity and sameness. The module explores the amazingly varied ways that people across the world live, think and relate to one another, as well as the question of what is shared in the experience of being human. The module introduces students to the practice of ethnography - the direct, in-depth study of ways of life - which is at the heart of anthropology.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module explores six themes in six blocks of teaching focusing on: the origins of anthropology and ethnography (colonialism; studying ‘the other’; participant observation); kinship and family; religion and magic; rites of passage and the life-course; applied and ‘political’ anthropology; anthropology at home. Each theme will be explored in a two hour lecture, one seminar and one ethnographic film. Two topics will be supported with a half-day fieldtrip each.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of the module the successful student will be able to:
1. Describe key features of the academic discipline of anthropology.
2. Define and discuss some core concepts in anthropology – kinship; ritual, religion and magic; indigenous rights debates today (applied/political anthropology) and anthropology at home. Evaluate some key debates concerning these concepts.
3. Compare and contrast a range of cross-cultural ethnographic case studies.
4. Demonstrate understanding of the fieldwork process.

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of the module the successful student will be able to:
1. Demonstrate critical thinking about the world around them and about cultural diversity.
2. Gather ethnographic data and demonstrate observational skills.
3. Apply concepts and academic ideas to ethnographic evidence.
4. Read and understand key module texts critically and analytically.
5. Practice ethnographic writing skills.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching61:006:00Seminar
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops22:004:00Two assessment preparation workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops61:006:00Film showing in second hour of one of the lecture blocks
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork24:008:00Two fieldtrips
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery22:004:002x2 hr for assessed feedback.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1160:00160:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures, seminars, films and guided reading of one article form a teaching block on one of the six topics. Lectures will provide an introduction and overview of the subject, relevant concepts and case examples. They expand on the reading the students are asked to complete which is then discussed in seminars which provide opportunity for questions and for practicing argument in discussion. The films exemplify the theme of the block and provide a more in depth example that also illustrates the focus and method of ethnography.
In addition to reading, students are asked to complete fieldwork over the course of the semester in their own environment. This practicing of participant observation and of writing of and thinking through fieldnotes is further supported through two fieldtrips that are linked to two of the six thematic teaching blocks. The fieldwork, both individual and on fieldtrips, leads directly into assessment one, the fieldwork diary entries.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M602,000 words
Written exercise1M40Up to ten fieldwork diary entries, approx. 2,000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Assessment 1: To enable skills development in ethnographic methods and writing, and in relating academic concepts to empirical information, students are invited to submit up to eight fieldwork diary entries on set topics which they are encouraged to write over the course of the first term. A mid-semester assessment workshop will provide formative feedback on writing exercises conducted so far to enable learning.
Assessment 2: This is a structured essay that gives students the choice of engaging with one of the 6 themes explored in the module, which will test both knowledge and skills of argument, relating concepts to examples and exploring an issue in depth. As a year one, semester one task, the essay question will draw on the set reading for the thematic block plus four further readings. This will focus students on academic literature and ensure they engage with relevant disciplinary debates.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.