Anthropology and Development Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What are Anthropology and Development?

Anthropology is a humanities and natural sciences department concerned with the study of people, past and present, with a focus on understanding what makes us human both culturally and biologically.

Anthropologists take a broad approach to understand the many different aspects of the human experience. They consider the past, through archaeology, to see how human groups lived hundreds or thousands of years ago and what was important to them.

Anthropology provides the answers to our questions about ourselves, our past, present, and future. Anthropology helps to connect everyone from around the globe. Anthropologists explore human evolution, reconstruct societies and civilizations of the past, and analyze the cultures and languages of modern peoples.

Anthropology and Development Studies are concerned with issues of social and cultural difference, inequality, vulnerability, risk, exclusion, and social justice.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering Anthropology and Development courses in the following subject areas:

  • Anthropology – The study of the human experience of living and being in the world.
  • Anthropology: Research – Gain the skills and knowledge necessary for professional and specialist academic research in anthropology.
  • Anthropology & Development – The study of anthropological perspective for development expertise of development and humanitarian aid professionals.
  • Diploma in Forensic Anthropology & Human Identification – Gain a basic understanding of the fields of forensic anthropology and human identification from a historical, theoretical, and practical perspective.

Studying Anthropology and Development in college

Many Anthropology and Development courses take place over 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover all theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials, and taught modules. Assessments will take place continuously with written examinations and practical assignments combined to achieve a qualification.

You could also consider work experience or volunteering to help with any opportunities that are relevant to the area in which you wish to work. For example, if you want to get into charity or international aid roles, there are many opportunities for you to volunteer overseas during your summer break. Try contacting local council offices or museums and galleries for information about project activities and ask if they need volunteers to help out with the organization or running of events.

Gaining work experience is vital when starting in most careers and shows commitment to a future employer. Take a proactive approach and find opportunities in which you can build up a desirable range of skills such as communication, planning, and project management.

Work Experience will not only allow you to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, but it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a course in Anthropology and Development you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of the cultures and biology of humans.

Working hours will depend on whether you are employed by a company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various facilities or companies. The hours are usually full-time, Monday to Friday. You could expect to work some evenings, and weekend or shift work is common if you are doing any type of fieldwork.

Graduates of Anthropology courses can go on to become anthropologists, academics, or researchers. Some choose careers that build directly on anthropology, including social policy and teaching, development/overseas agencies and work for non-governmental organizations.

You could work in the public and not-for-profit sectors, all branches of the Civil Service, local government, charities, central government bodies, universities, international organizations, such as the United Nations (UN), museums, and voluntary organizations.

Anthropology graduates also pursue roles in advertising, conservation, health and social work, heritage management, museums, or even sales and marketing.

Graduates of anthropological studies are also in demand for projects of historical preservation, or as industrial anthropologists to study a company’s structure and its people.

Related jobs include:

  • Anthropologist
  • Community development worker
  • International aid/development worker
  • Local government officer
  • Charity officer
  • Market researcher
  • Social researcher
  • Equality, diversity, and inclusion officer
  • Higher education lecturer
  • Human resources officer
  • Museum/gallery curator
  • Policy officer
  • Political risk analyst
  • Public relations officer
  • Social worker

Further study

After completing a course in Anthropology and Development you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skillset. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as criminology, development studies, environmental anthropology, industrial relations, journalism, law, marketing, public health, teaching, or youth and community work.

Some students go on to Masters degrees and specialize in an anthropological area, such as visual or medical anthropology, while others pursue related disciplines, such as community health, sociology, social research methods, politics, human geography, and economics.

Anthropology graduates also take up vocational courses, such as museum ethnography, counseling, health, and social work.


What are the branches of anthropology?

There are now four major fields of anthropology to consider:

· Archaeology – The study of how people lived in the past. Archaeologists learn from things people leave behind, like pottery, stone tools, or anything made or used by humans.

· Physical anthropology – The study of human biology, including how people adapt to where they live and how bodies changed over time. Physical anthropologists also study non-human primates.

· Linguistic anthropology – The study of how people speak and the words they use and how their language developed.

· Cultural anthropology – The study of how people live their lives now and how they may have lived in the past, including the tools they used and the food they obtained and ate.

Why should I take a course in Anthropology and Development?

Regardless of the specific area being studied, the essence of anthropology is in the observation of different peoples and cultures—studying them as they are instead of how you think they should or should not behave. It is only through this detailed study of all people that we gain the full picture of what it is to be human.

Where can I study Anthropology and Development?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

· Humans survived for hundreds of thousands of years without any government or written records, and only minimal economic specialization. As a result, we’re living in societies that are too complicated for us to understand which as a result makes them counterintuitive in many ways.

· We’re used to describing humans as mostly weak and unremarkable except for our brains, but humans are quite physically adept at many things. For instance, for tailless bipeds, we’re extraordinarily good runners. For primates, we’re excellent swimmers. By the standards of mammals, our sense of smell is poor, but as mammals, it’s still pretty good.

· Sub-Saharan Africa contains most of the genetic diversity in the human race.

· Although they’ve made bits and pieces of progress, anthropologists still have never been able to develop a purely behaviouristic (ethological) explanation of human society. Behaviourism and the idea of conditioning, which works relatively well in individual cases, don’t scale up very well.

Mariza Halliday

Climate Change Courses


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