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BA Social Anthropology and Politics

Start date
3 Years
UCAS code
Course Type
Undergraduate, Joint Honours combined

Annual tuition fees for 2024/25:
£9,250 (UK)
£22,860 (International)
More detail.

Our undergraduate BA Social Anthropology and Politics degree at the University of Birmingham will enable you to understand and analyse the contemporary world in all its variety. Explore alternative perspectives on today’s major political topics, movements and events.

Social Anthropology teaches students to question assumptions and think differently about some of the biggest questions of our time. From the challenges of conservation, to growing inequalities and religious coexistence, social anthropology’s comparative perspective will help you reassess the world around you.

A knowledge of politics helps you to understand what governments do, shedding light on how some of history’s pivotal events were motivated by the political leaders of the day. You learn to find your way among different arguments, rival theories and alternative explanations and about campaigns, elections, protest movements, policy issues and political ideals. You will also learn a great deal about human nature. Politics is not only what political scientists study, but also an activity in which professional politicians, civil servants and ordinary citizens take part.

The first year of the degree course gives you a thorough grounding in both Social Anthropology and Politics. In addition to receiving theoretical and methodological training in your second year, you can choose from a wide range of optional modules as you develop your own interests. In your final year, you will be able to continue to shape your own degree through your optional module choices and you will develop your own dissertation project with the help of an academic supervisor.

Over the last three years I have studied topics such as witchcraft and kinship in my first year, LGBT activism in my second year and the meaning of money and commodities in my third year. I even conducted my own anthropological research project on the social pressures that influence student fashion trends. By studying undergraduate anthropology at the University of Birmingham I have questioned all of my assumptions about what it means to be human.


Why study this course?

BA Social Anthropology and Politics is for you if you want to...

  • Experience a vibrant student community - Enjoy access to a student experience team who co-ordinate performances, talks, trips, podcasts, quizzes and celebrations. In recent years, for example, our first years have enjoyed a Sudanese food evening and second and third years have gone on trips to the Liverpool Slavery Museum, the V&A in London, and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. 
  • Gain a global understanding - As Europe's youngest and most culturally-diverse city, Birmingham is the perfect place to pursue a degree in Social Anthropology and Politics. You also have the option to experience a different society first hand by studying abroad with one of our 300 international partners as well as being able to study a foreign language for free.
  • Get a head start in the graduate market - Alongside practical research experience, you will gain critical and transferable skills that open up a broad range of career opportunities. You can also take advantage of our work-based placements and employability focused modules available to all our students.   
  • Be taught by team of world-renowned academics - Our teaching staff are committed to long term, on the ground, research on matters of global importance. 100% of research published by academic staff in the Department was recently rated “world leading” or “internationally excellent” (Area Studies, Research Excellence Framework 2021). 
  • Enhance your student experience - In the Department of Political Science and International Studies, as well as benefiting from our world-leading expertise, you’ll also get the chance to take part in a range of in-house activities are designed to complement your curriculum and enrich your degree at Birmingham.


Please note: You will take 120 credits of modules in each year of study. The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2024. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.

Joint Honours flexibility

Every degree programme at the University is divided into 120 credits of study for each year of the programme. In the first year of a Joint Honours programme, you will study 60 credits in each subject as you learn the core elements of the disciplines. We recognise that students on Joint Honours programmes might come to favour one subject slightly more than another. To account for this, we have added more flexibility into the second and final years of our programmes. In the second year, you can stick with the 60-60 split between the two subjects or shift to a 80-40 credit weighting, effectively a major/ minor combination. You can either go back to 60-60 in the final year, maintain the same 80-40 split or reverse the major and the minor and go to a 40-80 weighting.

First year

Social Anthropology compulsory modules

  • Studying Societies: Social Anthropology (10 credits)
  • Around the Wolrd with Anthropology (10 credits)
  • Thinking Anthropologically (20 credits)

Optional modules

  • Students choose one of the following two modules: 

Urban Encounters: Anthropology (20 credits) 


Writing Worlds: Ethnography as Craft (20 credits) 

Descriptions of first year Social Anthropology modules

Politics compulsory modules

  • Understanding Politics (20 credits)
  • Introduction to Political Theory (20 credits)

Optional module

  • 20 credits optional Politics module (20 credits)

Descriptions of first year Politics modules

Second year

Social Anthropology compulsory modules

  • Theory and Ethnography (20 credits)
  • Research in Practice (20 credits)

Social Anthropology optional modules

  • 40 credits of optional modules 

Descriptions of second year Social Anthropology modules

Politics compulsory modules

  • Comparative Politics (20 credits)
  • History of Political Ideas: power, revolution and the state (20 credits)

Politics optional modules

  • 40 credits of optional modules

Descriptions of second year Politics modules

Year Abroad

You can apply to study abroad for a year in an approved university around the world. If you achieve a grade of 2.1 or above in your first year, you will be eligible to apply for a Year Abroad in your second year. If your application is successful, you will go abroad in your third year and return to us for your final year.

More about a Year Abroad

Final year

Social Anthropology

  • 80 credits – Social Anthropology Dissertation (40 credits); optional modules, including, if you wish, the Professional Skills module if not undertaken the previous year
  • 60 credits – Social Anthropology Dissertation (40 credits); optional module,  including, if you wish, the Professional Skills module if not undertaken the previous year
  • 40 credits –  optional modules

Descriptions of third year Social Anthropology modules


  • 80 credits – Politics Dissertation (40 credits); optional modules
  • 60 credits – Politics Dissertation (40 credits); optional modules
  • 40 credits – optional modules

Descriptions of third year Politics modules


For UK students beginning their studies in September 2024, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Fees for 2024/25 are as follows:

  • UK: £9,250
  • International: £22,860

Eligibility for fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

For further information on tuition fees, living costs and available financial support, please see our pages on undergraduate fees and funding.

Tuition fees when studying abroad

For those spending a whole academic year abroad (where available):

  • Students who are classed as UK for fees purposes are required to pay 15% of their normal annual tuition fee
  • Students who are classed as International for fee purposes are required to pay 50% of their normal annual tuition fee

For those studying abroad for just one semester (where available), normal annual tuition fees apply.

Note - Study abroad opportunities vary between courses; please see the course description for details of study abroad options offered.

How To Apply

Standard offer

International Requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
General Studies:

IB Diploma:
6,5,5 in Higher level subjects plus 32 points overall.

BTEC qualifications:

  • BTEC Extended Diploma: DDD.
  • BTEC Diploma: DD, plus B at A-level.
  • BTEC Subsidiary Diploma: D, plus AB at A-level.

T Levels:
Distinction overall with B in the Core Component; all subjects considered.

Other qualifications are considered - learn more about entry requirements.

Alternative offers through our Pathways to Birmingham programmes and our Contextual Offer scheme

Students who are eligible and successfully complete a Pathways to Birmingham programme will receive special consideration from admissions tutors and an alternative offer (typically two grades below the standard offer). In addition, our Contextual Offer Scheme recognises the potential of students whose personal circumstances may have restricted achievement in school or college. If you are eligible to benefit from the contextual offer scheme, you will receive an offer which is one grade lower than the standard offer.

International Students

We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.


You will have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to higher education when you start at Birmingham. 

Personal tutors – You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.

Wellbeing Officers –You will also have access to dedicated wellbeing officers who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or to talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond if you need it.

Our Academic Skills Centre helps you to become a more effective and independent learner through a range of high-quality support services. The centre offers workshops on a range of topics, such as note-taking, reading, academic writing and presentation skills.

The Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) provides guidance on writing essays and dissertations if you need it. You can receive individual support from an academic writing advisor and meet with postgraduate tutors who specialise in particular subjects too.

Our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They offer research opportunities, study skills support, and help you prepare for your post-university career. They also organise social events, including trips.

Teaching staff

Students at the University of Birmingham are taught by a mixture of professors, senior lecturers, lecturers and doctoral researchers, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience. Many of our teaching staff have published important works about their areas of expertise, whilst others have taught at international institutions and can offer unique perspectives of their subjects.

You can find out more about the members of staff (including their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest) in their academic profiles linked below.

Contact Hours

All Birmingham degrees are set within a credit framework designed to measure your academic achievements. We expect all students to accumulate 120 credits in each full year of study which is equivalent to 40 hours of learning a week. Learning is considered to include contact learning (lectures and seminars), private study, revision and assessment.

For this programme, those 40 hours are estimated to be broken down and split into lectures, seminars and other guided teaching opportunities and independent study. This is a general rule across the entire academic year and may change week by week. 

Year 1: 16% Lectures, Seminars or similar, 84% Independent study
Year 2: 15% Lectures, Seminars or similar, 85% Independent study
Year 3: 15% Lectures, Seminars or similar, 85% Independent study

Assessment Methods

Assessments - you will be assessed in a variety of ways to help you transition to a new style of learning. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. Assessments methods will vary with each module and could include:

  • Coursework, such as essays, book reviews or projects
  • Group and individual presentations

There are no formal exams in the Department of African Studies and Anthropology; Joint Honours students may have timed or take-home examinations in their other department.

Feedback - you will receive feedback on each assessment within thee weeks, so you can learn from each assignment.



As a Social Anthropology and Politics student you will develop a wide range of skills that are attractive to employers.

These skills include:

  •  Strong communication skills
  •  Critical analytical skills
  •  The ability to research, analyse and interpret complex information
  •  Leadership and teamwork
  •  Handling complex information
  •  The ability to form concise and articulate arguments
  •  Managing your time and prioritising your workload

These are key skills that will enable you either to pursue further study in Politics, Social Anthropology or related disciplines or move into employment in a wide range of careers. Our graduates have gone on to careers such as: 

  • Adjudicator
  • Civil Servant
  • Graduate Intern
  • Graduate Research Executive
  • Journalist
  • Pensions Administrator
  • Production Runner
  • Social Worker
  • Parliamentary Researcher
  • Event Manager
  • Teacher


Developing your career

The University of Birmingham is the top choice for the UK's major employers searching for graduate recruits, according to The Graduate Market 2024 report. Our Careers Network are here to offer you tailored, expert advice on your career plans and support you with finding and applying for jobs, internships and further study. There are hundreds of events to help you meet potential employers and learn more about the breadth of opportunities and career sectors available to you.

Support will be offered to you covering the whole job application process, including CVs, LinkedIn, application forms, interviews and assessment centres.  You can also email our experienced Careers Advisors and College Teams to review your applications or answer any careers related question, alongside our on campus and online 1:1 appointments.

We have a number of exclusive Internship Programmes such as our Cultural Internship, which will give you paid, professional experience to set you apart in the graduate market. We also offer work experience bursaries, which allow you to apply for funding to support you during any unpaid internships. 

First years can take part in The Birmingham Project, with themes including celebrating arts and culture and shaping a global society. There’s also a successful Mentoring Programme, where you can gain access to experienced Mentors who can empower, inspire and inform you about their experiences.  As a University of Birmingham student you will also be given access to LinkedIn Learning giving free access to real world training courses to kick-start your careers.

If you want to earn money WorkLink advertises convenient part-time job opportunities on campus to fit round your studies.  

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you may want to engage in extra-curricular activities to broaden your skills and your network of contacts. Our employer-endorsed, award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme.

There are more than 500 student groups and volunteering opportunities offered by the Guild of Students (our Students’ Union) so you’re bound to find activities that you want to be involved in whilst meeting friends who share your interests.