Anthropology is the comparative study of societies and human diversity

Anthropology seeks to understand cultural differences and similarities, past and present.

Our course incorporates the study of key anthropological theories and the history of the discipline, and it introduces students to anthropological perspectives on: religion and ritual, politics, kinship and land rights, and ecology and environment. We do so in a way that examines local experiences and also addresses the ‘big questions’ that face all human societies. 

Students are provided with a comprehensive overview of Anthropology’s core research methodology: ethnography. An emphasis is placed upon active learning and assessment which allows students to develop the key skills needed to undertake ethnography. We teach skills in critical thinking, careful observation and record-keeping, oral and multi-media interviewing, sound-recording, and filmmaking. This work is supported by UWA's new, cutting-edge Ethnography Lab of Western Australia.

Anthropology provides students with valuable skills for living and working across Australia by exposing them to different systems of beliefs, values and practices. At a personal level, it offers a perspective on challenges in your everyday life, and encourages you to question your taken-for-granted beliefs. Its ultimate goal, as anthropologists like to say, is ‘to make the strange familiar, and the familiar strange’. 

As a discipline, anthropology is uniquely positioned to interpret the widest possible range of social phenomenon – from culturally-conditioned responses to disasters such as COVID-19, to online communities and new social movements, emergent forms of religion and religiosity, consumption and materiality, and Indigenous cultural expression and cultural rights. Anthropology studies all of these things both in Australia, and at a global scale.

For more information, please contact the lead for the Discipline of Anthropology Associate Professor Richard Vokes

Our courses

Anthropological Forum

Founded by Ronald Berndt in 1963, UWA’s academic journal Anthropological Forum quickly became a leading outlet for scholars based all over the world to publish their research findings. Today, the journal continues to publish the very latest ethnographic research and to make important interventions into contemporary debates in the field.

In 2021, the journal published an article, 'Foragers or Farmers: Dark Emu and the Controversy over Aboriginal Agriculture' by Ian Keen, which made a key anthropological contribution to the debate surrounding Bruce Pascoe’s book Dark Emu: Aboriginal Australia and the Birth of Agriculture (2018).

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