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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. How do we explain human diversity? The course provides an overview of the history of anthropology andfamiliarizes students with debates about the philosophy of science in anthropology. How does anthropology contribute to knowledge?

The programme consists of three theme blocks that focus on 1) comparisons of colonial Bali; 2) debates about witchcraft and rationality; 3) debates about culture and emotions 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 where they discuss the literature and lectures. The tutorials also prepare students for their exams. The reading list consists mainly of classic monographys that illustrate important developments in anthropology.

Course Objectives

After this course, a student will:

  • Be familiar with main developments in the history of anthropology and the types of research and arguments that are typical of various periods.

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

  • Be familiar with key questions about the philosophy of science and what knowledge is in anthropology.

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


Dates and room numbers can be found on the 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: 575 pages = 83 sbu

Assessment Method

  • First test 30% of final mark

  • Second test 70% 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 will not be graded, unless an assignment is done (submitted to and assessed by the tutor). Only one missed tutorial may be compensated for.

Registration in My Studymap

All students will be registered for the lectures and the exam (including re-sits) by the Student Services Centre (SSC). This will be done approximately mid August, after which all components of the courses will automatically appear in your MyTimetable schedule.

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 My Studymap 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