Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Special Announcement: First Anthropology A-level Launched in Britain

A new GCE AS and A2 qualification in anthropology has been accredited by Ofqual, and will be available for teaching in Britain from September 2010. The A-level has been developed by the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) in partnership with AQA, and will be offered and assessed by AQA.

The development of the A-level: A little bit of history...

The A-level Anthropology is the product of over 4 years of intensive work by the RAI's Education Committee, which is composed of university-based academic anthropologists and experienced A-level teachers. The project has received national support from university department of anthropology throughout the UK; and has been funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) under its Science in Society programme.

Why launch an Anthropology A-level?

" Anthropology is an inherently fascinating subject and has a natural place alongside cognate disciplines as a key part of a contemporary liberal education. Yet up to now, it has been almost absent from pre-university curricula in the UK. The new GCE fills this gap. It is intellectually challenging, and will demand much of students. Those taking it, whether or not they go on to study anthropology at university, will gain an understanding of human life in society, and of diverse ways of seeing the world, that will serve them well as the globally educated citizens of the future" Hilary Callan, Director of the RAI

What is special about the A-level?

Currently a handful of schools in Britain teach anthropology as part of their International Baccalaureate Programme. What distinguishes the A-level curriculum from the IB curriculum, is that the IB focuses on social/cultural anthropology, whereas the A-level has a broader scope, encompassing both social/cultural anthropology and biological anthropology. Students explore themes such as 'Being human', 'Global and local processes' and 'Practicing anthropology'. One of the distinguishing features of the A-level, is that students taking the subject at A2 level, will conduct a small scale investigation on a topic of their choice in order to gain a taste of real ethnographic research.

Who will be teaching the subject?

Many anthropologists who have gone into teaching, can be found teaching subjects such as Sociology, Citizenship, Biology or Religious Studies. The RAI's Education Outreach Programme and AQA have formed a community network of teachers and anthropology graduates who are interested in teaching the A-level. In order to teach the A-level, you will have to have a PGCE preferably in a related social science subject. If you are interested in joining the teachers network, get in touch with the RAI's Education Officer, Nafisa Fera, at

When will teaching start?

The teaching of the A-level will start in September 2010.

What about teaching/learning materials?

Alongside printed material, the RAI's Education Outreach programme is launching a dedicated website called Discover Anthropology, which will be made available shortly. The website will provide teaching/learning resources and will serve as a communication platform for teachers interested in teaching the GCE or introducing anthropological material into their teaching generally.

For further information:

Visit: or . Alternatively, contact AQA at: or the RAI's Education Officer at