Programme Description

Anthropology questions what it means to be human by exploring as wide a range of human experience as possible. Anthropologists begin from an appreciation of the diversity of human social and cultural life across time and space. They investigate the lived experience people have of their society, exploring differences of language and culture, gender and sexuality, social class, caste, race, ethnicity, religion and locality. As anthropologists frequently focus on life among people who are geographically and socially marginalised, themes of power and powerlessness, identity and otherness, belonging and migration are central to the Anthropology major. Anthropologists produce knowledge about human social life through empirical description in fieldwork and archival research, and ask larger philosophical questions of the human condition at large, based on their thick interaction with and study of the people with whom they work.

The major is designed to help students develop their skills in written, oral and visual expression, in fieldwork, ethnography, and survey design, and in the interpretation of social science information. The field’s unique focus on the diversity of human experience is also ideally suited to the development of global awareness at a culturally and historically deep level. Such awareness can lead to new kinds of civic engagement around the world as well as novel modes of moral and ethical reasoning. Anthropology students will learn to offer ethnographically and historically grounded descriptions of the human condition; to provide concrete examples of alternative ways of being human; and, upon that basis, to question what it means to be human in the world. Such a major is particularly relevant to the increasingly transnational world of the 21st century.


All Anthropology majors are required to complete 54-55 Modular Credits (MC) to fulfill the major:

    • Required courses:
      • ‘Introduction to Anthropology’ (a survey course) – 5 MC
      • ‘Ethnography’ (a methods class) – 5 MC
      • ‘The Anthropological Imagination’ (a theory/history class) – 5 MC
    • Electives (6 required, 2 of which must be 4000 level courses or advanced seminars)
      • Electives are selected from a list of anthropology and related approved courses. Two of them can be advanced or intermediate language classes that are relevant to the capstone project; the 4000 level courses must be taken at Yale-NUS – 30 MC
    • Capstone seminar and project. During the fourth year, students will take the capstone seminar. During the first semester, students will carry out a research project; during the second semester, students will complete the project and write a capstone report – 10 MC


Study abroad: With Head of Studies approval, students may petition to count courses taken while on a summer or semester study abroad as Anthropology major electives except for the two required 4000 level courses or advanced seminars, which must be taken at Yale-NUS.

In addition, students may petition to count a study abroad course as an equivalent of one of the following three core required courses: ‘Introduction to Anthropology’, ‘Ethnography’, or ‘The Anthropological Imagination’. The Head of Studies will review the study abroad course to determine if it meets the criteria to count as one of these three core requirements. In short, students are required to fulfil these three core requirements but only two out of the three must be taken at Yale-NUS; one may be taken through a study abroad programme with approval from the Head of Studies.

Students are encouraged to consult with the Head of Studies prior to taking study abroad courses to determine if they will count toward Anthropology degree requirements.


Minimum of 25 MC or 5 courses to qualify for a minor.

For class of 2019 onwards, students who wish to minor in Anthropology must take two required courses, Introduction to Anthropology and either Ethnography or Methods In The Social Sciences, two elective courses, and one 4000 level course or course listed as “advanced seminars” (or Anthropological Imagination).