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Culture and Comparison


Admission Requirements

This course is open to the following categories of students:

  • Bachelor’s CADS

  • Minor CADS

  • Premaster’s CADS admitted to this specific course during the application procedure

  • Exchange students admitted for this specific course during the application procedure

Language of Instruction

Lectures are given in English.
Tutorials: First year bachelor’s students CADS have chosen their preferred language of instruction for tutorials during their application. Minor, premaster’s and exchange students must follow the course entirely in English.

Exam(s) and assignment(s) are in the same language as tutorials.

Course Description

This course introduces students to social and cultural anthropology, starting from now-classic anthropological texts. It explores how anthropologists have envisioned their studies and their relationship over time with the subjects they have researched. The course asks specifically how anthropologists have approached questions of culture and comparison. The course not only provides an overview of the history of anthropology, but also familiarizes students with questions of the philosophy of science with respect to anthropology. What is the nature of anthropological knowledge? And what is the relationship of anthropologists with their object of study?

The programme consists of three theme blocks. Each block discusses central developments in anthropology and in thinking about culture and comparison on the basis of classical cases and ethnographic studies. Besides lectures, students attend one tutorial in every block in which they practise how to answer questions on the literature. The tutorials prepare the students for their examination. The reading list consists mainly of classic texts that illustrate particular periods and developments in the academic discipline of anthropology.

Course Objectives

After this course, a student will:

  • be familiar with the main developments in the history of anthropology, and the types of anthropological arguments typical of various periods.

  • be familiar with various approaches to culture in the history of anthropology, and their critiques.

  • be familiar with questions of the philosophy of science with respect to anthropology.

  • be able to compare and combine arguments from the course literature.


See website

Mode of Instruction

This is a 5 ECTS course, which means 140 hours of study (1 ECTS is equivalent to 28 study hours or sbu's). These 140 study hours are composed from the following components:

  • Lectures: 15 x 2 hours = 30 hours x 1,5 = 45 sbu

  • Tutorials: 3 x 2 hours = 6 hours x 2 = 12 sbu

  • Literature: 516 pages = 74 sbu

  • Written assignment (max. 675 words) = 9 sbu

Assessment Method

  • Written assignment 10% of final mark

  • Interim test 25% of final mark

  • Final exam 65% of final mark.

  • Only the final mark is registered in uSis. The final pass mark is 6,0 or higher; a final mark of 5,0 or lower is deemed inadequate. Final marks between 5,0 and 6,0 are never awarded. Only if the final mark is inadequate may the final exam be re-taken, during the re-sit. N.B.: There is no re-take option for the interim test.

  • The lectures form an integral part of the course, which means that exam questions will be based on both the assigned literature and the lectures.

  • Three mandatory tutorials form an integral part of the course. Failure to attend a tutorial means that the following test or exam will not be graded, unless an additional assignment is done (submitted to and assessed by the tutor). Only one missed tutorial may be compensated for.

Registration in uSis

All students will be registered for the lecture and the exam by the Student Services Centre (SSC).
Division and enrolment in the mandatory tutorials will also be done by the SSC and announced via uSis in the first week of lectures.


Brightspace is the digital learning environment of Leiden University. Brightspace gives access to course announcements and electronic study material. Assignments will also be submitted in Brightspace. Announcements about and changes to courses are given in Brightspace. Students are advised to check Brightspace daily to remain informed about rooms, schedules, deadlines, and details of assignments. Lecturers assume that all students read information posted on Brightspace.

- How to login

The homepage for Brightspace is: Brightspace

Please log in with your ULCN-account and personal password. On the left you will see an overview of My Courses.

For access to your courses in Brightspace you need to be registered in uSis for those courses.

Course Literature

Briggs, Jean L. 1971 Never in Anger: Portrait of an Eskimo Family. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Evans-Pritchard, E.E. 1976 [1937] Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande (abridged edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Articles from electronic journals and encyclopaedias are available through Leiden University’s digital library.


Dr. Erik Bähre