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Social & Cultural Anthropology

The IB Diploma Programme Social and Cultural Anthropology course offers an opportunity for students to explore and understand humankind in all its diversity through the comparative study of culture and human societies.  

In studying this course students will come to appreciate how Anthropology as a discipline contributes to an understanding of contemporary issues, such as war and conflict, the environment, poverty, injustice, inequality and human and cultural rights. The study of Social and Cultural Anthropology offers critical insight into the continuities as well as dynamics of social change and the development of societies, and challenges cultural assumptions.

Students undertaking this course will have the opportunity to become acquainted with anthropological perspectives and ways of thinking, and to develop critical, reflexive knowledge. Perfectly placed in group 3, inpiduals and societies, Social and Cultural Anthropology contributes to a distinctive approach to intercultural awareness and understanding. It allows students to develop the capacity to recognize preconceptions and assumptions of their own social and cultural environments through an exploration of both the familiar and unfamiliar worlds of other people.

The course will explore the relationships between the topics of study and themes.  The ethnographies chosen will allow students to explore multiple themes and topics, emphasizing the interdependence of social, economic and political institutions and processes, and their dynamic interrelations to beliefs, values and practices.

Ethnographic film and other visual or virtual media may be used in the teaching of ethnography, but this will be treated in the same critical and reflective manner as written ethnography.

Course outline.

Below is an outline of the key component of the course and the assessment.

The nine key concepts:

  • Belief and knowledge
  • Change
  • Culture
  • Identity
  • Materiality
  • Power
  • Social Relations
  • Society
  • Symbolism 

The nine areas of enquiry:

  • Belonging 
  • Classifying the world
  • Communication and expression
  • Conflict, coercion and cooperation
  • Development
  • Health, illness and healing
  • Movement, time and space
  • Production, exchange and consumption
  • The body

Internal assessment:

SL: Observation + further fieldwork (using another method) six months later

HL: Fieldwork

External assessment:

Paper 1: 2 hours

Section A: HL + SL

Response to a passage 1½ hours

  • a) Definition
  • b) Use of key concepts to analyse the passage
  • c) Use of key concepts + theory + ethnography
  • d) Comparison/contrast using ethnographic materials

Section B: HL only

Response to either a passage or a picture re Ethical Issues ½hour

Paper 2: HL 2½ hours SL 1½ hours

Section A: Application of a key concept to a contemporary issue within one of the four (HL) or three (SL) areas of inquiry studied out of the nine available.

Section B: SL Answer one question chosen from either of the two other areas of inquiry studied

HL Answer two questions chosen from two of the other three areas of inquiry studied.