Fast Track AS – Anthropology

The Fast Track AS Anthropology course is designed for students who have done particularly well in their GCSEs to be studied alongside their standard A-level program.

  • Who Is This Course For?

    The Fast Track AS Anthropology course is designed for students who have done particularly well in their GCSEs to be studied alongside their standard A-level program.

    Anthropology is the study of human behaviour from different cultures around the world which can then be compared to the way we live in the UK. From tribes in Africa and the Australian Aborigines to the ‘Evangelical Christian right’ in America, Anthropology covers a whole scope of different cultures that will broaden the horizon of any student who is interested in studying where culture comes from.

    The course includes topic areas such as the Evolution of Man – Biological and cultural, the social construction of social inequalities, our relationship with the natural world along with so many other interesting issues that exist within the human world that we share with 7 billion others.

  • Course Details:

    Exam Board


    Due to its ‘fast-track’ nature, there are only 2 one hour Anthropology lessons each week, which means that in order to succeed, a significant amount of independent study is required. One of those lessons is usually teacher led whereas the second lesson is usually centred around research into a particular case study, usually through the form of a documentary or academic literature.

    There are 2 examined units:

    Unit 1 – Being Human – Equality and Diversity

    The body

    • The human body as a product of evolution and natural selection, including similarities and differences between humans and our primate ancestors as a way of understanding the impact of our origins on contemporary human behaviour and practices
    • The biological and socio-cultural significance of the concept of race, including critiques of this concept.
    • Ways of controlling and modifying the body, and analysis of these, including Mauss’s techniques of the body, Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, sexual selection, and conforming to social norms.

    Thinking and communicating

    • Forms of classification and explanations of why humans classify.
    • Different systems of thought and the debate about rationality, including explanations of fortune and misfortune (for example of events or afflictions such as natural disasters, accidents, illness and death in terms of witchcraft, divine intervention, natural forces and human wrongdoing) and the contrast between scientific thinking and thinking based on magic, witchcraft and religion.
    • The origins of language.
    • The social and cultural role of language

    Organising social relations

    • The extent to which social relations are based on inequality, hierarchy and power and/or altruism and co-operation. Evidence and explanations of divisions based on economic position, age and gender, including consideration of whether ‘different’ means ‘unequal’.
    • Kinship and marriage: knowledge of cross-cultural variations in practices and meanings.
    • Use and exchange of objects as an expression of social relations: the practical, symbolic and artistic use of objects; reciprocity and gift exchange.

    Engaging with nature

    • Different beliefs and practices with regard to engaging with and protecting the natural world, including the contrast between a biocentric or ecocentric ethic and an anthropocentric or instrumentalist ethic.

    Unit 2 Becoming a Person: Processes, Practices and Consequences


    • Alternative concepts of personhood, seen historically and cross-culturally, including the relational concept of personhood contrasted with the philosophical and psychological concepts common to western society.
    • Contemporary developments in concepts of personhood, including transhumanism and cyborgs.

    Becoming a person

    • Moving through the stages of life: rituals and rites of passage, including birth, childhood, puberty, aging, death and the afterlife; the role of kinship relations in rituals and rites of passage.
    • The characteristics of rituals, including religious and secular rituals; rituals as affirming or destabilising and the problems of defining and researching rituals.
    • The role of rituals and rites of passage in becoming a gendered person.
    • What it means to be a gendered person; gender as a cultural construct; sexuality and gender; alternatives to binary male-female gender dichotomies; third gender; gender relations; changing gender roles.

    Creating and maintaining identity

    • Definitions of identity and perspectives on the role of identification.
    • Creating an identity: the role of symbols and totems, place and space, history, social memory and myth in constructing, maintaining, expressing and contesting identity.
    • The role of material culture in communicating and negotiating identity; the use of symbols, including new technologies such as mobile phones.

    Drawing boundaries and defining groups

    • Different perspectives on the nature and role of boundaries.
    • The drawing of boundaries between social groups based upon differences such as language, religion, ethnicity, nationality, territory and history.
    • The consequences of boundaries within and between societies, for both individuals and groups; exclusion and inclusion; racism and ethnic conflict; religious conflict.
    • Boundaries between humans and other entities

    The complete specification, together with past exam papers, can be seen on the AQA website.

  • Progression:

    Having A-level Anthropology can open up a world of opportunities in both university choices and career options. If you are considering applying to university to study Sociology, Criminology, Social Policy, Social Work, Psychology, Public Administration, Journalism, Marketing & Advertising and a host of other Humanities based subjects then A-level Anthropology is an excellent qualification.