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 Guide to Studying Anthropology

Written by Kirenjit Kaur, Aug 2017

Anthropology examines the astonishing variety of ways in which human beings live in the world. Two main types of Social and Biology, are taught in the UK:

Social Anthropology

concerns how people in the contemporary world actually live.

  • Social anthropologists spend years in a particular setting (their 'field site' – which could be anything from a remote Indonesian village to the offices of an investment bank), observing what the people there do, how they think, and how they relate to each other. This allows them to understand a culture on its own terms, as well as to appreciate the historical, political, economic and ecological factors that have shaped it.
  • Having experienced other ways of life first-hand, social anthropologists are uniquely positioned to challenge those assumptions, and develop better, more rigorous models for understanding and improving the world.

Biological Anthropology

investigates how humans have evolved to have such a diversity of cultures – something that distinguishes us from any other species.

  • We accomplish this by comparing human social behaviour with that of other primates, analysing archaeological and fossil records, and discover how and when human life emerged.
  • Biological anthropologists also study the physiological and genetic variations amongst contemporary human populations, examining how they have adapted to the circumstances in which they live.
  • Both branches of anthropology explore how human biology influences or constrains social and cultural behaviour. Some departments even offer special courses in cognitive anthropology, or biology and culture, which allow you to explore this issue in greater depth. You may find reference to courses on Forensic Anthropology – these are Forensic Science courses with a heavy emphasis on human remains.

Entry Requirements

  • Typical International Baccalaureate requirements : Minimum 34 points

  • Typical A - levels : ABB

What are the Job Opportunities?

  • Social anthropologists’ ability to understand how people will engage with policies and products gives them an edge over other graduates when applying for jobs in local and national government, development work, charity work, teaching, marketing, and public relations.
  • Many also choose to work in media or the arts.
  • Biological anthropology is a great training for work in development, public health, conservation, and science communication.

What are the jobs?

Anthropology can lead to many different career paths, some of which include:

  • Government Work - armed with an understanding of mankind, a job in government seems logical enough.
  • International Aid - the job of travelling to other countries to give relief after disasters.
  • Social Services - helping with the welfare of those who are more vulnerable in society.
  • Museum Worker - helping to curate museums and keep artefacts safe.
  • University Lecturer - teach future Anthropology students in the same discipline as you were once taught.

Work experience

As with any subject, work experience is always a plus point with prospective employers.Depending on the area of Anthropology you wish to pursue, work experience can come in all shapes and sizes:

  • Helping out on a dig in an archaeological capacity.
  • Volunteering with humanitarian work at home and overseas.
  • Shadowing government officials in order to gain an understanding of social policy.

No matter what sort of work experience you choose, it will be priceless in the eyes of a future employer.

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