Undergraduate Degrees

The department offers two undergraduate degrees:

BA in Anthropology

BA in Sociology

Undergraduate Courses

First year Courses: Anthropology / Sociology

Ant111 Introduction to Anthropology is a course that tells you a peculiar story: the one of Anthropology. It narrates how the discipline that today we call anthropology came into being and why it has been named as such. Who “invented” it and how? What does anthropology do? What does it teach? How is it different form any other discipline? Does anthropology matter today?

This course will take you far away and near, in time and space. You will meet extraordinary people and their powerful and revolutionary ideas that changed the ways in which we look at the world. It is a story that will make you think differently, to look at ordinary life with new eyes, from different standings and new locations.

Anthropologists do fieldwork, they gather up observations, analyse and theorise, and then write up their findings. Virtually everything of our world interests them: business and money, kinship, modes of production, consumption, beliefs and rituals, social knowledge and cognition, relationships and politics, migration, nationhood, heritage, social movements and even education.

Students will develop a broad understanding of the following:

  • The historical development of the disciple of Anthropology, its inception, critique and responses
  • The main analytical concepts of the discipline
  • The ethnographic method in anthropology
  • The key authors who contributed to the development of the discipline.

This course introduces students to Sociology. It explores crucial concepts like sociological imagination, identity, social change, society, structure, agency, gender and kinship, religion. The course also approaches issues of economics and globalisation in the analysis of contemporary Africa, and introduces students to the methods of research.

Student will develop a broad understanding of the following:

  • The range of subfields that have been studied by sociologists
  • Thematic areas of particular interest to sociology
  • Crucial sociological texts

Students will be introduced to ethical codes of conduct and practices of research

Second year Courses: Anthropology

What is a ritual? How does it work? What does it mean to believe? How do beliefs, practices and affects structure the world we live in? And how, in turn, do history, politics and time shape ritual practices, meanings and subjectivities? What does a ritual say about history, politics and social life? How do rituals change and transform? Can a ritual be a site of contestation and resistance? The course offers an exploration on how anthropology as a discipline has attempted to answer these and many other questions on religious matters since the beginning of the twentieth century. In one way or the other, theories and reflections on spirituality have always tried to interrogate the relationships that exist between religion, society, culture and the individual.

Student will develop a broad understanding of the following:

  • Theories of ritual
  • Case studies of ritual systems from Africa

Transformation of religion, belief and ritual in the contemporary world

The course introduces students to the genealogy of the idea of Africa. It looks at how Africa has been thought and spoken about, conceived and misconceived. Broadly the goal of the module is to explore how the idea of Africa has emerged. The course looks at crucial concepts that have been the stock and trade of “African studies”: “race”, “tribe”,“traditional”, “indigeneity”. The course also approaches issues of political and economic development, the use and developments of local languages, cultural and religious debates.

Student will develop a broad understanding of the following:

  • To engage with theoretical perspectives on Africa
  • To be able to speak to select issues in an “African studies” or an Africa anthropology

To master some of the basic theoretical and conceptual tools that contribute to the study of the African context

This course introduces students to anthropology of biomedicine and non-Western healing practices. It explores concepts such as culture, human body and health. It trains students to think critically about health, illness, political economy, stigma and sexuality.

Students will be aware of anthropological perspectives on wellness and sickness and understand how these differ from society to society, with a particular focus on the South African situation.

Student will develop a broad understanding of the following:

  • Anthropology’s critique of biomedicine
  • Healing practices in non-western societies
  • Cultural constructions of the human body and understandings of health and wellness
  • The political economies of health and illness
  • Stigma and health in society
  • Sexuality

This course introduces students to the conceptual discourse of gender, family, kinship, descent and residence. It explores case studies of kinship systems, patrilineal and matrilineal. Looks at applied kinship studies in law, migration etc. Students will acquire basic knowledge of skills to analyse kinship, gender and family as pivotal focus of social organization. Students will understand the cross-cultural variation of these forums of social relations and will be helped to question maturalised motions of social institutions, such as ‘the family’. Students will understand the different schools of thought in anthropological kinship studies.

Student will develop a broad understanding of the following:

  • Introduction to the concepts of kinship, gender, family, descent and residence
  • Different case studies of patrilineal, matrilineal, collateral kinship systems

Applied kinship studies in cases such as migration and law enforcements both internationally and in South Africa.

Second year Courses: Sociology

Course introduces students to the classical ideas and notions that were very instrumental in driving the growth of sociology as a discipline. It focuses on the ideas of those scholars who might rightly be called the founding fathers of the discipline. While these pioneering sociology scholars were from the West, the ideas that they put forward can be seen as largely reflective of social realities all over the world. The classical sociological theories can be divided into three main concerns viz. the structural consensus viewpoints or theories (Comte; Durkheim); the structural conflict perspectives (Marx); and the interpretive viewpoints also referred to as the social action perspective (Weber).

Student will develop a broad understanding of the following:

  • The “founding figures” of sociology
  • To understand and apply basic theory to the workings of society
  • The theories of the “founding figures”—Marx, Durkheim and Weber will be examined.
  • The theories of their twentieth century successors.

All societies make distinctions among people resulting in systems of unequal privilege, rewards, opportunities, power, prestige and influence. The course starts off by introducing students to the four principle types of stratification systems—slavery, caste systems, estates and social class. In the first term, we examine the various stratification systems, their characteristics, the ideologies that support them and the extent of social mobility possible within each system. In the second term, we unpack the relationship between education and class. In addition to class, the social categories race, ethnicity, gender and age and the intersections thereof will be explored. Course also examines the manifestations of social stratification, inequality and discrimination in contemporary societies, with particular focus on South Africa.

Student will develop a broad understanding of the following:

  • The theories of social stratification and inequality
  • The nature of social stratification and inequality as they intersect with race, gender, class and age

Issues around stratification and inequality in contemporary South Africa.

Course explores theories of crime/deviance and violence. Looks at the interconnectedness of gender, crime and violence as well as race, crime and violence. Takes an in-depth look at crime and violence in South Africa. Students will be introduced to theories of deviance, different paradigms, issues of urban crime.

Student will develop a broad understanding of the following:

  • The various theories of deviance
  • Patterns of crime and violence both public and domestic
  • Strategies to control such behavior.

Course introduces students to biomedical and sociological theories of health. It takes an in-depth look at Health and related issues in South Africa, and inequality in South Africa— poverty and its alleviation, adolescent health, impact of obesity on health. It explores indigenous health systems.

Student will develop a broad understanding of the following:

  • Social patterns of health & illness
  • Various theoretical perspectives on health
  • The determinants of health/illness are.
  • The health issues in South Africa
  • The impact of gender relations on health
  • Common Issues such as adolescent health and obesity

Third year Courses: Anthropology

The course focuses on anthropology and writing in general and on ethnography and fiction in particular. It explores this, particularly through three case studies of anthropologist-writers of different contexts and genres: Zora Neale Hurston, Hilda Kuper and Ruth Behar. The second part of the course looks at the Theories from the South. Students will get familiar with the history of anthropological research, theory and texts from the nineteenth century to the present. The will explore the classical ethnographic monographs and their theoretical underpinnings, showing how they have been informed by more recent theoretical developments. Finally student will examine the ethical issues that arise when doing research in anthropology.

Student will develop a broad understanding of the following:

  • The development of anthropology as a discipline
  • The successive anthropological paradigms
  • Key enthographies
  • Critical reassessment of such studies
  • To understand modern anthropological approaches

The ethical considerations pertaining to the Social Sciences

The course focuses on concepts of culture, traditions, identity, race, ethnicity and the construction of difference. It explores ethnographic studies on public culture and social identity. It tackles with issues of public culture and cultural identity.

Student will develop a broad understanding of the following:

  • The core concepts of identity, culture, tradition, ethnicity and gender
  • To critically examine how these concepts are used (and abused) in the social construction of difference, and how they feature in identity politics

To discuss different schools of thought concerning culture and identity

Course introduces students to the conceptions of popular culture and public culture. Looks at popular and public culture in social contexts. It explores globalisation and culture. The ourse also focuses on identity formation in relation to popular culture, such as music, dance, film, photography, food and fashion. In the attempt to conceptualise publics and popular culture, the course examines the social contexts of the production an and consumption of meanings. It also looks at the linkages between identity formation and popular culture.

Student will develop a broad understanding of the following:

  • The concepts of public and popular culture
  • How anthropologists analyses such phenomena
  • The dynamics of such public and popular culture

This course challenges students to think critically about social reproduction and production. It discusses in-depth, concepts like political organization and conflict resolution from cross-cultural perspectives, culture, power and wealth in contemporary South Africa. These matters will be considered in cross-cultural perspective through ethnographic studies and specifically the modern South African context will be examined.

Student will develop a broad understanding of the following:

  • The range of theories relating to power relations
  • The major issues in economic anthropology
  • The major issues in legal anthropology

• The ways in which these relations are legitimated by cultural practices.

Third year Courses: Sociology

The course introduces students to the nature of social theory. It explores concepts such as social theory and science and discusses in-depth the enlightenment and social theory, postmodernism and social theory.

Student will develop a broad understanding of the following:

  • The different paradigms and theoretical fields
  • The different paradigms, perspectives, arguments and debates
  • To enable students to make an informed theoretical choice to develop a theoretical position for themselves

The course explores concepts like population, health and population health. How is population measured? It also focuses on how selected social, economic, behavioural, changes are impacting on the health of populations. Students are expected to engage critically with the material and the various theoretical health perspectives to understand and explain variation in health. The course will be examining peoples’ definition and values concerning health and illness and how these are socially determined and influenced by their membership in different groups. The course will analyses how age, sex, family circumstances, ethnic background and social class influence attitudes, values and beliefs about health. The contemporary South African context will be examined

Student will develop a broad understanding of the following:

  • The ways in which health is socially constructed
  • The various health systems and policies as implemented in different parts of the world
  • The link between globalization and health
  • The global burden of diseases
  • The impact of climate change and food security in health
  • Students will understand specific South African issues

This course introduces students to social transformation-industrial revolution, rationalization, urbanization and globalization. It explores technology discourse in post-structuralism and post-industrialism. t takes students through the development of media technologies (Internet, television, smart phones, facebook, twitter) and the digital revolution.It takes an in-depth look at different technologies and social change in South Africa and Africa.

Student will develop a broad understanding of the following:

  • The theories of social change
  • The theoretical frameworks of technology
  • To contextualize the development of specific media technologies
  • The dynamics of technological change in south African in particular and Africa and the world, in general

The course introduces students to the underlying philosophy of social science research: ontology and epistemology. It takes an in-depth look at concepts such as positivism, interpretivism, realism, critical realism, logic etc. It introduces students to social research methods: qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods. Also explores ethics and social science research.

Student will develop a broad understanding of the following:

  • The philosophical foundation of sociological research
  • The different paradigms in social science research
  • The different methods of social science research
  • The ethical issues in social science research
  • Students will be able to choose the appropriate method(s) for a given social research
  • Students will be able to undertake research singly or in groups

Contact us for more Information

Undergraduate Degrees

For further enquiries contact the undergraduate student coordinator: Dr. Sharyn Spicer.


+27 21 959 3022



Student Admissions and Applications:

For all Student Admissions and Applications related queries, contact the UWC Contact Centre at:


+27 21 959 3900/01



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