What does the A-level specification offer to students?

At AS, the specification offers students the chance to grapple with fundamental questions of human life, and in the process to develop skills of critical enquiry, sensitivity and an appreciation of topical debates and issues.

  • Unit 1: Being Human: Unity and Diversity
  • Unit 2: Becoming a Person: Identity and Belonging

At A2, the specification gives students the opportunity to explore issues in a global as well as local context, and also to apply their knowledge and understanding of anthropological principles to a small-scale investigation on an anthropological topic of their choice.

  • Unit 3: Global and Local: Societies, Environments and Globalisation
  • Unit 4: Practicing Anthropology: Methods and Investigations

For the full A-level specification, examination and assessment requirements visit: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/anthropology/a-level/anthropology-2110


How does the Anthropology A-level differ from the IB Anthropology?

One important distinguishing feature is whereas the IB Anthropology course focuses solely on social and cultural anthropology the Anthropology A-level includes both social/cultural anthropology and biological anthropology.


Why is the Anthropology A-level an appealing option for students and education providers?

There is a definite gap amongst A-levels offered in pre-university education, for an established academic subject that takes seriously, and has firmly embedded into its content, a global perspective on issues of identity and cross-cultural understanding. An anthropology AS/A2 offers a unique tool for schools and colleges, as well as students, to address these issues and integrate them into the curriculum.
There is demonstrable current and growing interest in the discipline among both students and the general public:

Anthropology is an intrinsically fascinating subject, and there is a clear and growing interest in the discipline amongst young people. This is evidenced by the steadily increasing number of applicants to university courses over the last three years, and by the overwhelming interest in the London Anthropology Day, an annual Year 12 taster day for schools and colleges co-organised by the RAI and held at the British Museum. Over the last five years this event has grown dramatically in popularity among sixth form students, teachers, school careers advisers and university admissions officers. Anthropology has a particular appeal for students from ‘non-traditional backgrounds’, as evidenced by the support for, and success of, the RAI’s outreach programme funded by HEFCE under its AimHigher National Rolling Programme in 2005-6.

Anthropology complements a large range of other subjects:

Anthropology AS/A2 would work very well in combination with a large number of other AS/A2 courses offered by AQA and other awarding bodies in the social and human sciences. As anthropology draws upon aspects of the sciences and the arts, it may have particular appeal as a bridging subject for students who are interested in maintaining aspects of both from their Key Stage 4 studies.

An Anthropology A level will have a strong academic currency as an entrance requirement for universities:

Anthropology at Advanced Level has strong support from the Heads of Anthropology Departments many of whom have been involved in the design of this new AS/A2 course and examination) and will therefore have strong currency for university applicants to anthropology courses as well as academic legitimacy in the eyes of other course providers.

Anthropology has a strong life-long learning appeal:

In addition to appealing to Key Stage 5 students in secondary and FE, AS/A2 Level Anthropology may also hold great appeal as an accredited course within the Life-Long Learning domain.  A number of key life-long learning providers offer access, diploma, taster and evening courses in anthropology.


How to bring anthropology into your school/college:

The possibility of introducing a new subject into a school’s curriculum is dependent on numerous variables and constraints including: budget factors, training of teachers, student numbers, and the orientation of senior management. 

Teachers who want their school to offer anthropology might face challenges such as:

  • colleagues and managers who may have misconceptions or misunderstandings of what anthropology is;
  •  not enough students who are willing to enrol in the subject;
  • teachers feeling that they do not  have enough background and knowledge to teach the subject;
  • lack of support from senior staff;
  • fears that inclusion of anthropology will take students away from other subjects.

Here are some possible solutions

Interesting staff and students in the subject:

  • Encourage staff and students to attend the free London Anthropology Day
  • Ask the RAI’s Education Officer for free copies of the Discover Anthropology and Careers in Anthropology brochures to stimulate students’ interest in the subject
  • Encourage students to participate in free anthropological activities listed through the RAI’s events page
  • Contact colleges already offering IB Anthropology, and ask for guidance

Convincing senior management/staff:

  • Write a new course approval form –see the following example for introducing an Anthropology A-level 
  • Refer colleagues to this website and to other schools which have agreed to offer anthropology
  • Persuade other colleagues who are interested in anthropology to support your effort


Finding Resources

The RAI's Education Outreach Programme is currently working in collaboration with teachers and anthropologists on providing teaching and learning resources which are tailored to the A-level curriculum. We are continually adding new material to our Teachers Resources section. If you have any teaching/learning resources you think would be useful to add to our list, please email Emma Ford, the RAI's This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Teacher Training

AQA provides ongoing training and information sessions. For more information visit: AQA's Anthropology A-level webpages.  the RAI is also running Teacher Support Sessions.  Please get in touch with Emma Ford, the RAI’s This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.


Joining the RAI’s teachers’ network

The RAI has formed a teachers’ network which encourages teachers currently teaching anthropology, or those interested in teaching it in the future, to share ideas, concerns and lesson plans. If you are interested in joining the teachers’ network please get in touch with Emma Ford, the RAI’s This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For more information about the A-level email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/anthropology/a-level/anthropology-2110