The University of Southampton
Courses

ANTH2001 Cosmology, Ritual & Belief

Module Overview

This module is concerned with how people in different cultures make sense of their world. The spiritual beliefs and ritual practices of a range of different cultures across the world are considered together with some of the ways in which anthropologists seek to explain them. We ask such questions as can anthropologists really study other cultures’ belief systems if they themselves have no personal belief in that system? Is a belief in witchcraft rational? How different are witchcraft and science? Are the causes of illness always natural or can they be social and cultural? We also cover other aspects of cosmology, ritual and belief such as life cycle rituals, spirit possession, witchcraft in contemporary Africa, Paganism in Britain, new religious movements, and the relationship between environment, culture and beliefs.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

- To explore the diversity of belief systems cross-culturally. - To critically assess a range of early and contemporary theories of belief systems, ritual and symbolism. - To consider the relationship between environment and cosmology.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a critical knowledge of competing theoretical perspectives used in the study of cosmology, ritual and belief.
  • Recognise and formulate social science questions.
  • Be competent in the use of theoretical perspectives and concepts in anthropology and be able to apply them to the area of cosmology, ritual and belief.
  • Appreciate the relationship between external factors and changing religious beliefs.
  • Recognise that rationality is not restricted to Western scientific thought.
  • Understand the relationship between observable data and analytical interpretation.
  • Further develop your communication skills.
  • Enhance your skills of self-reflection with regard to academic work.
  • Develop time management and organisation skills.
  • Enhance your capacity to engage in critical analysis and problem solving.
  • Identify, select and evaluate appropriate data and evidence from relevant sources and present conclusions in an appropriate social science format.

Syllabus

This module is concerned with how people in different cultures make sense of their world. The spiritual beliefs and ritual practices of a range of different cultures across the world are considered together with some of the ways in which anthropologists seek to explain them. We ask such questions as can anthropologists really study other cultures’ belief systems if they themselves have no personal belief in that system? Is a belief in witchcraft rational? How different are witchcraft and science? Are the causes of illness always natural or can they be social and cultural? We also cover other aspects of cosmology, ritual and belief such as life cycle rituals, spirit possession, witchcraft in contemporary Africa, Paganism in Britain, new religious movements, and the relationship between environment, culture and beliefs.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures; seminars based on directed reading.

TypeHours
Independent Study129
Teaching29
Total study time158

Resources & Reading list

Bowie, F (2006). The Anthropology of Religion: An Introduction. 

Assessment

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 60%
Review paper  (1500 words) 40%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Share this module Facebook Google+ Twitter Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×