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Siren Watcher Education Bachelor Curtin University Education Masters Icon Siren Watcher Postgraduate Masters Level (0) Siren Watcher Undergraduate - Master of Arts and Life Update


This major (Sociology and Anthropology) introduces students to the complementary fields of anthropology and sociology. This major enables students to understand how contemporary local, regional and national cultures are affected by, and react to, processes of global change such as industrialisation, urbanisation, increasing inter-ethnic contacts, environmental transformation and new modes of communication.

A graduate of this course can:

1. demonstrate an understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of the social sciences.

2. demonstrate the ability to think critically, creatively and reflectively within a social science discipline and across disciplinary boundaries.

3. demonstrate the ability to locate relevant information from a range of sources and to make decisions about the significance of this information in the development of a disciplined analysis of social life.

4. demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively through a variety of written, oral and other formats to diverse audiences in ways appropriate in the two disciplines.

5. demonstrate the ability to use a variety of technologies and the ability to decide on their applications appropriately.

6. show sustained intellectual curiosity by taking responsibility for one’s own learning and intellectual development through the recognition of a range of learning strategies.

7. demonstrate the capacity to understand social life in a range of local and global contexts.

8. embrace the importance of cultural diversity and of human rights in the making of knowledge in the social sciences.

9. understand the importance of appropriate theories and methods for undertaking social research that is both ethical and principled.

Completed Units:

Communication Units

Contemporary media is a vital and pervasive presence in many aspects of our lives, both personal and professional. This unit explores the ways in which 21st century media ‘engages’ our attention through a variety of texts and communicative modes. It also focuses on the ways in which we, as users, consumers and producers, engage with the media. We will explore how our relation to media is impacted by the institutions and processes involved in its production.

Engage critically with the culture in which you live via a wide variety of written and audio visual materials, texts and sources. Examine the way common sense knowledge is constructed and operates in society. Explore the forms and possibilities of critique in the “postmodern digital” age. Explore the changing role of critique in a specific disciplinary field or vocational area.

Writing Units

Using examples from print and screen, Fantasy and Cultural Representation is an examination of modes of representation in relation to how they relate to contemporary culture. Drawing on narrative and semiotic theory the unit analyses and applies disciplinary knowledges to critique the relationship of the fantasy mode to culture.

Cultural Units:

This unit introduces students to semiotics and key concepts in Literary and Cultural studies including politics of representation, social construction of categories, reader positioning and textural consumption and history as a contextually situated account of events. This unit explores the significant idea that all representations are mediated through the cultural investments of the period in which they are produced.

Language Units:

This unit is designed to promote awareness of the variations in communication patterns in different Asian cultures , and to enhance the ability to communicate more effectively with Asia. It covers major East Asian societies explores the relationships between culture and language/behaviour, and potential cross-cultural communication problems that may arise from the differences between Asian and Australian societies.

Anthropology / Sociology Units:

An introduction to the disciplines of anthropology and sociology. This unit will introduce recent developments in both practice and theory. Topics studied will include: sexuality and gender, families and changing patterns of human relationships, ritual, politics and power, culture and the sociology of knowledge. A core theme uniting the different topics will be current ideas of what the ‘self’ is, how it may be known, and how comparative studies can shed light on its formation.

This unit examines the changing patterns and structures of social inequality in Australia and the Asia region. Key themes include: the different sites and spheres of social inequality; historical overview of social inequality; the nature of inequality in contemporary capitalist societies; gender, ethnicity, age, race, indigenous issues, disabilities, poverty, and statelessness; the politics of inequality, social movements and responses to social inequalities. The unit will have a comparative focus with case studies from Australia and selected Asian countries.

Notions about private and public spheres have played an important part in the development of public discourse and understandings of human rights and citizenship. Recent scholarship, however, has discussed where these two overlap, and where they raise problems. This unit will investigate current debates on what constitutes the private and the public, and will examine case histories that challenge our ability to distinguish between them.

Topics discussed may include some of the following: public policy, public opinion, law, censorship, violence, ethics, celebrity, memoir, disability, gender, sexual and racial identity and affirmative action. We will aim to take events that are capturing attention in the media of the day and analyse how they relate to the theoretical issues we discuss in the unit.

This unit examines what people of diverse cultural and social backgrounds understand by sustainability. It looks at how they are affected by and respond to state, market and wider community strategies to bring about more sustainable ways of living. Some of the main topics may include: the idea of sustainability in social science; the relationship between social, cultural and environmental notions of sustainability; how people understand and relate to the natural world; the social and cultural meaning of sustainable development; and sustainable bodies. Case materials will be drawn from Australia and its region.

This unit examines contemporary theory and practice in anthropology and sociology, specifically in the anthropology and sociology of public problems. These focus on the construction of a public problem and its conversion from private concern to public issue. Public problems can range from concerns over the global economic recession, climate change and terrorism to those of obesity, cigarette smoking, town planning or graffiti.

Students will consider several research projects in order to develop a reflexive awareness of contemporary anthropological and sociological practices and methods. This unit also involves undertaking a project which may be textually based and/or involve collection and analysis of empirical materials.

This unit explores the anthropology and sociology of cities and cultural life within them. It deals with such topics as the origins and growth of cities, kinship, family and neighbourhood in urban contexts, work and recreation in cities, class, ethnicity and gender in urban life, the role of different senses in the experience of city life and ethnographic studies in and of urban settings. The guiding theoretical notions for this unit are governance, community, senses and resistance.

The global movement of peoples resulting in cultural and economic exchange, and also domination, has an extremely long history; however, contemporary understandings about globalisation often focus on the gradual increase in international political and economic organisation since 1970s, alongside developments in communications technology, and the impact of changes brought about by the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s.

This unit introduces a sociology of globalisation, exploring some of the cultural, political and economic elements of social organisation in the globalising world, and critically examining the ways that experiences and understandings of globalisation may differ according to social and cultural context. Key topics include: theories about globalisation; political and economic organisation in a globalising world; cultural and migration flows; diversity and social inequality; and the impact of globalisation on work, community and the environment.

This unit focuses on anthropological and sociological approaches to the provision of human rights for peoples and cultures in Australia, Asia and beyond in some of the following areas: political and socio economic spheres, ethnicity and indigeneity, gender and sexuality, religion, environment, migration and war. The unit addresses claims to human rights, their maintenance and protection and uses a social justice framework to evaluate conflicts between rights.

Research, written communication and oral presentation in academic and professional contexts. Develop reflective, critical and evaluative thinking and teamwork skills, and the ability to articulate the practices that lead to successful learning.

Language is fundamental to what defines us as humans and it’s therefore an important focus for social research. This course introduces some aspects of sociology of language in use, including socialisation to language, the role of language in the formation and expression of culture and identity, and the ways that language is involved in ideology and the dynamics of power. A consideration of language is of special significance to ethnographic research so, after examining a range of approaches to discourse analysis from with the social sciences, the unit applies an understanding of sociology of language in use to analysing a piece of spoken discourse.

Completing in 2021:

We explore the ways anthropologists and sociologists have engaged in research textually, visually and theoretically to understand the everyday contexts of social life in city streets, workplaces, schools, farms, public and open spaces, the home, entertainment and tourist sites. This unit positions students to use and develop their knowledge so they, too, can ‘do’ – rather than just ‘read’ – anthropology or sociology. In doing so, students deploy observation and interviewing methods to examine small, particular aspects of the cultures of everyday life.

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