1.©'Global Villages' 2.©Nafisa Fera 3.©Nafisa Fera 4.©RAI

How was the Anthropology A-level developed?

The Anthropology A-level was developed over the course of four years by the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI)'s Education Committee in collaboration with teachers, anthropologists and with the awarding body AQA (Assessment and Qualifications Alliance). The Anthropology A-level has now been accredited by the national regulator Ofqual and will soon be offered for the first time in schools and colleges throughout Britain.

Anthropology A-level Press Release

When will teaching of the A-level commence?

Teaching will begin in September 2010.

Which schools and colleges will be offering the subject?

Teachers are currently in the process or at the final stages of lobbying their schools to take on the A-level. For further information visit: AQA's Anthropology A-level webpages

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: AQA's Anthropology A-level webpages

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

The Anthropology A-level differs from the anthropology course offered as part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma in several ways.Two important distinguishing features are: first, whereas the IB Anthropology course focuses solely on social and cultural anthropology the Anthropology A-level includes both social/cultural anthropology and biological anthropology. Second, at A2 level of the Anthropology A-level students learn about the methods of anthropological fieldwork and are able to carry out a small scale investigation on an anthropological topic of their choice.  

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. In 2009 it attracted over 350 participants from all over the UK and was fully booked with a waiting list within 2 weeks from opening of registrations.

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:

As of 2009, 404 courses containing a significant element of anthropology are offered at 42 UK 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.


Get involved in anthropology through the RAI's Education Outreach Programme

image © Nafisa Fera The RAI's Education Department organises events, activities, contests as well as produces teaching and learning materials for anyone interested in learning about anthropology. Take a look at the many ways to get involved with like-minded people who are passionate about the subject:



  • Become an RAI member: take a look here for all the benefits associated with joining the RAI.  
  • Attend an event: take a look at our events page for a list of various anthropological events which take place nationally. 
  • Take part in discussions by joining our community forum and our Facebook Group
  • Join our Student E-Network by emailing Emma Ford, the RAI's This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Become a volunteer: the RAI's Education Department is always looking for ethusiastic individuals to help out with our outreach events such as the London Anthropology Day and the ESRC Festival of Social Science. If you are interested in volunteering email Emma Ford, the RAI's This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Apply for an internship: interns form an essential part of the RAI's Educational Outreach Activities. If you are interested in becoming an intern for the RAI's Education Department email Emma Ford, the RAI's This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your CV and a cover letter. A minimum of two months is required in order to be considered. For further information about volunteering at the RAI visit: http://www.therai.org.uk/about-the-rai/governance/getting-involved/
  • Be creative: If you have a poem, song, artwork or photographs which reflect anthropological topics, email Emma Ford, the RAI's This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Take a look at the Your Space section for inspiration!