M.A. Anthropology

The basic objective of the programme is to understand the discipline of Anthropology from the perspective of its underlying principles, history, development, sub-disciplines and the contemporary scope and application. It essentially incorporates concepts and methods necessary for holistic study of major branches of the discipline, namely, Social – Cultural Anthropology, Biological Anthropology, and the Archaeological Anthropology. It is intended to equip the students with the time tested approaches, tools, techniques and methodologies used in conducting a typical anthropological study. The students are meticulously trained in acquiring the basic nuances of ethnographic fieldwork while they set out to collect the data in a variety of social and environmental settings. They are made to understand the importance of applying anthropological insights in institutional academics, policy making and overall improvement in the quality of human life. The M A in Anthropology Programme, housed in Department of Anthropology, Pondicherry University, Puducherry, is two year Programme consisting of totally 16 courses, spread over 4 semesters with 4 courses per semester. The ‘structure’ of the ‘programme’ is constituted of definite set of courses taught every semester that can be grouped as hard core courses and elective courses, and soft core courses taken from within or from the other departments. All these courses that constitute the programme are detailed by the course syllabus, course credits, hours of teaching or contact hours, continuous internal assessment, semester evaluation and grading, guided by the minimum required credits for the successful completion of the programme. The Department of Anthropology was initiated in the year 1999 with the sole aim of imparting quality teaching and holistic research, as well as holding outreach activities and consultancy services in various walks of human life.

Focus Areas


of the program

Social and Cultural Anthropology

This field of Anthropology aims at understanding the basic foundations of what is called as Social and Cultural Anthropology which informs the contemporary issues and debates on human development and well being. The students are specifically oriented to understand the diverse human groupings and apply the fundamental concepts like, status and role, institutions, systems, organizations, community and associations, as shaped by the principles of holism, comparativism and relativism. The approaches used to study the concepts of society and cultures are: Functionalism, Social Action Theory, Marxism, Structuralism, Critical Theory, Post Structuralism and Feminist Theory, Interpretative and Post Modern Theory. This fundamental knowledge of the field is then applied in various areas of research encompassing, family, marriage and kinship, caste and tribal societies, business and corporate life, ritual and belief structure, economic and livelihood patterns, ecological and environmental studies, medical systems and healthcare, education and enculturation studies, gender and reproductive health, governance and public policy, linguistic and cognitive studies.

Physical and Biological Anthropology

The basic objective of Physical Anthropology is to illustrate the importance of “biocultural perspective” in explaining biological conditioning of human beings. The students are taught the basics of geological time scale and the corresponding evidence in fossil record of human evolution. They are made to critically asses the existing phylogeny and taxonomy of humans and apes to support the fossil evidence. The information from the comparative physiology and anatomy of apes and humans is concomitantly utilized in order to arrive at clear cut understanding of evolutionary lines of humans. The basic theoretical approaches used in this area are, Lamarckism, Darwinism (Gradualism), Punctuated Equilibrium, Synthetic Theory and Population Genetics, and the contemporary Gene Theory. Study of primate behaviour as a major determinant of human biological conditioning assumes a prominent place in contemporary Biological Anthropology. Apart from this, the students are made to understand the biological basis of race, and the formation, development and distribution of various racial features across humans in different parts of the globe. An attempt is made to critically analyze the UNESCO statement on race and racism. The major thrust areas of the Biological Anthropology include; Kinanthropology and Ergonomics, Forensic Anthropology, Physiological Anthropology, Human Growth and Development, Nutritional Anthropology, Dermatoglyphics, Human Population Genetics, Serology and Blood Group Analysis, and Demographic Anthropology.

Prehistoric Archaeology and Paleoanthropology

The basic goal of Archaeological Anthropology is to systematically train the students in handling and identifying bone and stone tool technologies and arriving at definite typology of tools and artifacts. The main objective of the Archaeological Anthropology course is to unravel the basic evolutionary processes and the cultural behavioural patterns that determine the very nature of European, African and Indian Prehistory. The study includes topics of glacial and inter-glacial periods and its role in shaping human habitats. Periodization is given prominent place in Archaeology, and therefore Methods of Dating, both Absolute and Relative are studied in detail. The field of Prehistoric Archaeology envisaged the emergence of major early civilizational centres of the world including Indus Valley Civilization the unique Megalithic Cultures of South India. The students are familiarized with new emerging trends in Archaeological Anthropology like, Environmental Archaeology, Cognitive Archaeology, Under water Archaeology, Ethno-Archaeology, Computer Applications in Archaeology, use of Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System in archaeological excavations.

Ethnographic Fieldwork and Anthropological Methodology

Ethnographic fieldwork is the hallmark of anthropological research which accounts for human behaviour in cross cultural perspective. The students are exposed to the vagaries of fieldwork through the methodological design of Ethnography which provides the fieldworker with valuable insights to decipher the complexities of human nature. The students are introduced to various types of ethnographies which basically involves carving out a place for fieldworker in the field. Ethnographic fieldwork is basically a toolkit of methods that includes, key informant interviewing, participant observation, and other immersive techniques that are more akin to qualitative research and ideographic reasoning. The other methods that characterize anthropological research are semi and unstructured techniques, extended case study, free listing and pile sorting, life course approaches and case histories. From the perspective of methodology, the most widely applied contributions of anthropology has been the approach of ethnography and its offshoots like, interpretative paradigm, empiricism, ‘etic and emic’ perspective popularly called as peoples’ perspective in social sciences and humanities.

Who can prefer this Course


Bachelor’s degree in any discipline with a minimum of 50 % of marks
ENTRANCE EXAMINATION SYLLABUS M.A. in ANTHROPOLOGY Since Bachelor’s Degree in any discipline is the eligibility criteria for admission into MA Anthropology, the syllabus meant for entrance exam is more inclusive reflecting social sciences, general sciences, current affairs, indian polity, reasoning, general awareness of natural and social environment etc; of an undergraduate level. UNIT 1: Social fabric of India- Social groups like caste, tribe, religion, language, fairs, festivals, rural, urban, education, health, civic amenities, economic organisation, social system, social conflict, etc. UNIT 2: Physiographical features, climatic conditions, resource distribution, history, political structure, democracy, trends of growth and development of India etc. UNIT 3: Preliminary knowledge of basic sciences like chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology, environment etc. important institutes of national and international value, landmark scientific developments and research, inventions and discoveries. UNIT 4: Current affairs of national and international importance, major news items in the print and electronic media and developments in communication and social media networks. Sports and games of national and international significance and other public entertainments. Famous books and their authors. Eminent figures and personalities in various fields. International and National awards and awardees of prominence. UNIT 5: English language proficiency of 10th standard, tests of reasoning and aptitude, skills of crisis management, social consciousness, community welfare. Any other topic that draws attention of an average educated person and matters that are anthropogenic in nature.

Current Curriculum

Year of Revision : 2021
  • Course Content
  • Reference Book
  • Valuation Pattern

Previous Curriculum

Year of Revision : 2019
  • Course Content
  • Reference Book
  • Valuation Pattern