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SOC2027 : Comparing Cultures: Big debates

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Anselma Gallinat
  • Lecturer: Dr Emma Clavering
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


Anthropology is concerned with the question of human diversity and sameness. It asks questions, such as: Are emotions universal or are there cultural differences in what we feel? Can the Hopi of North America experience the passing of time, if they have no word for it? Are our bodies also culture, or are they naturally given entities?
In Comparing Culture II we take the question of human diversity and sameness, which was introduced in stage 1, a step further to explore some of the big ideas anthropologists have studied and theorised over time. We will study in more depth how human diversity has been studied, thought of, and written about in ethnographic texts. The module explores big anthropological ideas and relates them to ethnographic study, research and practice through the reading of ethnographic texts, which are at the heart of the production of knowledge in anthropology.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module provides a grounding in the history of anthropological ideas and explores five big ideas. The explorations will begin with a core debate and students will explore the different sides of each argument relating evidence, theory and argument. Each big question will be explored through timetabled, synchronous lectures, asynchronous mini-lectures, films and similar accessible online content, whole group workshops as well as seminars which elaborate on the topics, as well as guided reading.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1120:00120:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials90:304:30asynchronous, online accessible materials (films, blogs, etc)
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials50:302:30asynchronous online mini-lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching61:006:00seminars
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities144:3044:30N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops51:307:30N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops14:004:00Present in Person 'out and about' group exercise followed by classroom-based activity.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module is taught in two parts. Part I introduces students to the history of ideas in anthropology. Part II covers big ideas/question in anthropology.

Both are delivered through synchronous in-person lectures, asynchronous pre-recorded lectures, asynchronous online accessible materials (films, blogs and similar) and asynchronous online material and readings. Students get a chance to explore topics in more depth and put their ideas to the test in related seminars.

In Part II students explore in 'studio-style' teaching in workshops covering different sides of the debate. They present and explore their ideas in more depth in small group-seminars.

To enhance the learning experience and provide an additional space that can feed into the assessment, there will be a stand alone Workshop (group activity), in which students and teaching staff go 'out and about' to a local, on-campus venue. Students will then share the experience back in the class, again with the support of the teaching team.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio2M100Portfolio consisting of: Report 1: 30% @ 1.500 words; report 2: 40% @ 2.000 words; self-reflective learning journal: 30% @ 500 words
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation2MInformal presentations to peers with feedback from peers and teaching staff to support the development of report 1.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment strategy focuses on the core learning goals of critical reading and assessing ethnographic texts, understanding the conditions of their production, their limitations as well as their theoretical position. The reports will require students to explore ethnographic texts and debates with regard to the author's position, evidence, methods and arguments. The reports will encourage analytical reading and evaluation.

Assessment support:
Report 1: The seminars in part 1 will evolve around step-by-step practices that lead directly into report 1.
Report 2: The workshops and seminar activities mirror what is required in this report, so that students prepare directly and effectively for this aspect of the portfolio. Very detailed guidance on structure, content and expectations will be provided and will be discussed including Q&A at a workshop.

3: The self-reflective learning journal will itself support student learning and reflection on study materials, as well as enable teaching staff to see how well both teaching methods and assessment strategy are working. This will be supported through detailed guidance on what to include and how to structure the write up as well as sample learning journals available on Canvas.

Reading Lists