6: College of Arts and Sciences

General Information | Academic Information | Departments and Programs | Faculty

Afro-American and African Studies | Anthropology | Archaeology | Art | Asian and Middle Eastern
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Department of Anthropology

Course Descriptions | Faculty

Overview   Anthropology is the study of culture and cultural diversity throughout the world. It is a broad field which is classically divided into four areas of study: social anthropology, the study of contemporary societies; archaeology, the study of the material remains of past societies; linguistics, the study of the structure and principles of language; and physical anthropology, the study of human evolution and human biological diversity.

Faculty   There are currently twenty-five anthropology faculty members. Five of the faculty are archaeologists, who specialize in North American prehistoric and historic archaeology, the ancient Near East, and Africa. Five are linguists, with particular expertise in African, Native American, and Southeast Asia languages and sociolinguistics. One member of the faculty is a folklorist, who focuses on the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The majority of the faculty consists of social anthropologists, whose teaching and research interests span the globe. Particular concentrations include the cultures of South Asia, East Asia, Indonesia, Melanesia, the Caribbean, Africa, and North America.

Students   There are currently 165 students majoring in anthropology. While this number represents a diverse group of students with a wide range of interests, it is small enough to maintain a high rate of faculty-student interaction. Students are encouraged to participate in faculty research, and many have worked with faculty on archaeological field work.

Upon graduation, some students pursue graduate degrees in specialized areas, preparing themselves for careers in teaching, research, or applied anthropology. Many go on to careers in law and medicine, aided by their knowledge of anthropological concepts such as cultural diversity and human evolution. Today there are also more business opportunities open to the anthropologist, as our current era of global economics demands the appreciation of different cultural perspectives. Still, many enter educational fields and social services: teaching in the U.S. and abroad; joining the Peace Corps; and working in museums and on archaeological excavations.

Requirements for Major   Eleven courses (31 credits) taken within a program approved by a departmental undergraduate advisor are required for a major. These eleven courses may include courses taken before declaration of the major, and up to two from outside the Department of Anthropology. Courses taken outside the anthropology department, including courses transferred from other institutions or study abroad programs, may count toward the area requirements for the major (subject to approval by a major advisor), but normally they may not count toward the above 300-level requirement for the major. In order to declare a major, a student must have taken at least one anthropology course, or be currently enrolled in one. At least 18 credits must be taken after declaration of the major. The major requires a distribution of courses in the following areas:

  1. One course in each of the following areas within anthropology: (1) principles of sociocultural analysis, (2) cultural diversities, (3) archaeology, and (4) linguistics.
  2. All majors must take ANTH 300 a one-credit, credit/no-credit course, as soon after declaring a major as possible.
  3. All majors must take ANTH 301 (Theory and History of Anthropology), preferably in the second or third year.
  4. All majors must take ANTH 401 during their fourth year.
  5. All majors must take at least four courses above the 300 level.
  6. All majors must take at least one course in anthropology which fulfills the College’s non-Western perspective requirement.

Each semester the department publishes a list of the current courses that satisfy the above requirements.

Students frequently find that anthropology provides a cognate discipline which can be paired with other studies in the humanities and sciences. Many of these students choose to double-major in anthropology and another discipline. Up to six credits in another department major may be counted toward an anthropology major if they are consistent with a student's overall program. Specific courses, therefore, may be counted toward both majors, but the student must receive approval from a departmental advisor in advance.

Exceptions to any of these requirements are made only upon written petition to the undergraduate committee of the Department of Anthropology. No petitions are accepted after the completion of a student's seventh semester.

A number of informal activities are associated with the Department. Among these is the Anthropology Association of the University of Virginia. Majors are encouraged to attend meetings of the group and to attend lectures and symposia sponsored by the department.

Requirements for Minor   Students majoring in a diverse array of disciplines choose to minor in anthropology. Courses taken in other disciplines may not count toward a minor. A maximum of one anthropology course taken at another institution may count toward the minor, if approved by a major advisor.

A minor consists of six three-credit courses and ANTH 300. All minors must take:

  1. Nineteen credits (as above).
  2. ANTH 300.
  3. One-course in three of the following four areas of anthropology: (1) principles of sociocultural analysis, (2) cultural diversities, (3) archaeology, and (4) linguistics.
  4. All minors must take at least one course in anthropology that fulfills the College's non-Western perspective requirement.

Independent Study in Anthropology   For students who want to work on an individual research project, ANTH 496 allows considerable flexibility. There is no formal limitation on the kind of project as long as a faculty member is willing to direct it, but the project should not duplicate what is already available in a regular course. Applicants should have their projects roughly defined when they apply to the faculty member. The normal requirements for ANTH 496 are a reading list comparable in substance to those in regular courses, and a term paper and oral examination at the end of the semester.

Distinguished Majors Program in Anthropology (Departmental Honors)   Students with superior academic performance are encouraged to apply for the departmental Distinguished Majors Program (DMP) in which they write a thesis demonstrating independent study of high quality. The requirements for admission to the DMP are as follows:

  1. Satisfaction of all College requirements as stated in the Record with a GPA of at least 3.4 in all university courses.
  2. A GPA of at least 3.4 in all courses taken as part of the anthropology major.
  3. Permission of an advisor. This may be any member of the departmental faculty who is willing to take on the responsibility of supervising the thesis and is normally someone to whom the students have already demonstrated their ability in a specialized course at the 500 level.

After gaining admission to the DMP by selecting a topic approved by an advisor, students register for three credits of ANTH 497 in the first semester of the fourth year. In this course students produce the first draft of their thesis. In the second semester, students register for ANTH 498 and, taking into account the criticisms and suggestions of their advisor and other interested faculty members, produce a finished thesis of approximately 10,000 words which must be approved by a committee of three faculty members and deposited in the departmental office. Students wishing help in setting up their program should contact a major advisor.

Additional Information   For more information, contact Gertrude Fraser, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Anthropology, Brooks Hall, Charlottesville, VA 22903; (804) 924-7044; Fax: (804) 924-1350; www.virginia.edu/~anthro.

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