Module Catalogue 2021/22

SOC1027 : Comparing Cultures

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Sarah Winkler-Reid
  • Lecturer: Professor Cathrine Degnen
  • 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 five themes in five blocks of teaching focusing on: anthropology and ethnography; rites of passage and the life-course; belonging and identity; kinship; and place. Each theme will be explored through asynchronous mini-lectures, and films, and synchronous whole group ‘fire-side chats’, and small group guided reading and activity sessions. There will also be assessment focus sessions. Students will also have the opportunity to take part in a virtual exchange with anthropology students from IUPUI (Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis), a university in Midwestern United States.

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. 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
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials81:008:00Films. Non-Synchronous, non-timetabled remote delivery
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion148:0048:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials101:0010:00Pre-recorded lectures
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1116:00116:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00PIP timetabled seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops51:005:00PIP timetabled whole group (fire-side chats)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops21:303:00PIP timetabled whole group (assessment sessions)
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Teaching is in five ‘blocks’. Introduction, overview and understanding of the topic are built through PIP ‘fire- side chats’, asynchronous mini-lectures and ethnographic films. Active knowledge and understanding of the topics are developed and deepened through PIP small group guided reading sessions and activity sessions, and asynchronous worksheets. Two additional PIP workshops will be focused on assessment.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio1M1003 parts, 3500 words: 1. Field diary(30%:1500wrds) 2. Ethnographic essay(60%:2000wrds) 3. Virtual exchange or photo essay(10%)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Portfolio is comprised of three elements, Parts 1, 2 and 3.

Part 1 is a field diary: 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. Evidence of completion will be screenshots, and they will receive written feedback on three entries included in the portfolio (IKO4, ISO2 and 5).

Part 2 is an ethnographic write-up which gives students the choice of engaging with one of the themes explored in the module in more depth, analysing their ethnographic data and utilising sources from the module to evidence and inform their claims in an essay-type format (IKO1 – 3, ISO 1,3,4,5).

Part 3 is a report which will evidence engagement with the virtual exchange with peers from an anthropology module at IUPUI (Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis). This enables students to build a shared ethnographic fieldwork experience together. Via a virtual platform, they will have the chance to work with each other to think like anthropologists about the cultural differences, and similarities between life at an American and a British university in 2020-21 (IKO3-4, ISO1,2,3,5).


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2021/22 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 2022/23 entry will be published here in early-April 2022. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.