• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Anthropology
Social Animals: anthropological perspectives on animal-human relationships (ANTH6519)

This course examines animal-human relationships from a multiple of theoretical perspectives to explore the various positions that animals occupy in human (as pets, food, friends, enemies, beings with rights, organ donors and spectacles of nature). It also introduces students to some of the theoretical cornerstones (and classic readings) of the discipline of Anthropology.

What are animals? How do we classify them? What sorts of relationships do animals have to humans? What can the anthropological exploration of animals and their relationships to humans tell us about ourselves? Animals and their relationships with people have been of interest to anthropologists for a long time, and some theoreticians have even suggested that the anthropological exploring animal-human relationships allows the discipline to come to terms with its colonial past. Early understandings of animals focused on their sustenance and symbolic value, and structuralist perspectives placed animals centrally in marriage and other systems of great importance to human social lives. More recent approaches have retained the notion that animals are important because they offer insight into human conceptualisations of and actions in the world. These approaches, which arise from a multiple of theoretical perspectives, have attempted to nuance old dichotomies and to look into the interesting and sometimes conflicting positions that animals occupy as pets, food, friends, enemies, beings with rights, organ donors and spectacles of nature.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
  1. Evaluate the relevance of studying animals anthropologically;
  2. Appreciate the culturally constituted dimensions of animals;
  3. Understand the various roles of animals in the discipline and its development, in webs of power and disempowerment, globalisation,  social relations, debates about the constitution of human-ness,  and culturally specific interpretations of animals;
  4. Participate in a community of scholars organised around an interest in animals;
  5. Build in depth knowledge of particular topics according to the student's own program of study to the student's own emerging interests; and
  6. Critically apply anthropological ideas and techniques to the study of animals.

Indicative Assessment

Participation (15%) [Learning Outcomes 1-4]
Tutorial presentation, 20 minutes (20%) [Learning Outcomes 4, 5, 6]
Major essay, 6000 words (65%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 5, 6]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of workshop and workshop-like activities; and
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed ANTH2133


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $3180
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $4860
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
8274 22 Jul 2019 29 Jul 2019 31 Aug 2019 25 Oct 2019 In Person N/A

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