Please note: Information on this page relates to the 2016 academic year unless otherwise specified.
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This subject is taught by the School of Social and Cultural Studies.
Why are human groups and their ways of life so different around the world? Why, for example, do many New Zealanders believe it is disgusting and cruel to eat dog, while Muslims don't eat pork, and Hindus think cows are sacred? Why do most New Zealanders think marriage should only involve two partners, while the President of South Africa, following a Zulu custom, has three wives? Why do so many young people in New Zealand decide to get tattoos while many youths in Papua New Guinea willingly undergo painful scarification rituals? Why do such cultural differences develop and how might we understand them better?
Anthropology literally means 'the study of human beings', while cultures are patterns of human behaviour and knowledge that every human learns as a member of a society. Cultural Anthropology focuses on how these cultural patterns shape our experiences. Anthropologists carry out research using the unique method of participant observation; they often live with the people they study for over a year, learn their language, and adopt their daily habits, gaining in-depth and firsthand insights into their way of life. This leads them to produce ethnographies: richly detailed texts describing the life and experiences of a cultural group.
Students majoring in Cultural Anthropology towards a Bachelor of Arts (BA), will explore how culture is expressed in areas such as ritual, symbolism, language, personality, religion, inequality, gender, family, art and politics. We compare life in New Zealand to the way people live in a range of diverse locations around the world. Understanding how other societies organise their lives and give meaning to their existence also increases our understanding of our own cultural worlds.
Cultural Anthropology lecturers at Victoria have research expertise in such fields as: ritual, migration, inequality, ethnicity, psychological anthropology, historical anthropology, colonisation, indigenous peoples, and charity and development. They have carried out research in countries such as Greece, Italy, New Zealand, Germany, Canada, Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands.
Cultural Anthropology major requirements
- ANTH 101 and 102
- 40 points from ANTH 200-299
- 40 points from ANTH 300-399
Postgraduate qualifications in Cultural Anthropology
For information specific to Cultural Anthropology, please see our Postgraduate Study page. For information about the postgraduate qualifications, please click on the Faculty links below.
- Graduate Diploma in Arts
- Postgraduate Diploma in Arts
- Bachelor of Arts with Honours
- Master of Arts
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If you’re a returning or transferring student, contact the Faculty Student and Academic Services Office, for help with degree planning and for information on admission requirements and transfer credit from other institutions.
Career paths in Cultural Anthropology
Cultural Anthropology graduates from Victoria have gone into a wide variety of careers. Cultural Anthropology provides you with a broad range of skills important in today's world. At a general level, these include critical and creative thinking, research, writing and analysis, and the effective communication of ideas. More specifically, the study of cultural anthropology will teach you to understand cultural diversity and the role of culture in all areas of life, and to apply anthropological knowledge to current social issues.
Careers and Employment are available to assist with a wide range of queries—from the general exploration of career ideas and career implications of subject choices, to details of specific jobs, employers, or postgraduate courses.
For a complete course listing, see the list of all Cultural Anthropology courses.
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|100 Level Courses|
ANTH 101 – Foundations of Society and Culture
ANTH 102 – Social and Cultural Diversity
|200 Level Courses|
ANTH 201 – Kin, Class and Caste
ANTH 204 – Modern Anthropological Thought
ANTH 208 – Culture and Experience
ANTH 209 – Conflict and Reconciliation
ANTH 213 – Ritual in the Modern World
|300 Level Courses|
ANTH 307 – Medical Anthropology
ANTH 308 – Anthropology in Oceania
ANTH 314 – Special Topic: New Approaches to Kinship
ANTH 315 – Selected Topic: Psychological Anthropology
ANTH 316 – Visual Anthropology
ANTH 317 – Migration, Culture and Identity
|400 Level Courses|
ANTH 407 – Ideas and Approaches
ANTH 408 – Ethnographic Research
ANTH 412 – Anthropological Perspectives on Development
ANTH 489 – Research Project
SACS 428 – Internship