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Human-Animal Interactions

Module titleHuman-Animal Interactions
Module codeANT3005
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Julien Dugnoille (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

From the food we eat and the clothes we wear to the medicines which sustain us, our lives are inextricably bound up in complex relationships with other animals. This module explores the many and varied interactions which humans have with nonhuman animals.  You will consider the place of non-human animals in social anthropology which prioritises the human animal, traditionally seeing fundamental and irreconcilable differences between 'cultured' humans and objectified animals.  You will put these interactions in socio-historical context and consider cross-cultural comparisons and theoretical analysis. Key issues relate to how we might understand often conflicting attitudes such as what it means to be human and our responsibilities. These philosophical discussions may culminate in a re-consideration of the place of nonhuman animals in social anthropology as described above. The ways in which attitudes towards animals as objects and/or subjects are changing in other academic disciplines will also form part of the cross-cultural analysis. The module is open to non-specialist students.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module aims to:

1. introduce you to 'anthrozoology' through engagement with a wide range of ethnographic case studies;

2. provide you with the tools and information needed to analyse, in a theoretically rigorous manner, the many and varied ways in which humans think about, and interact with, other animals.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. demonstrate a detailed understanding of a range of human interactions with other animals;
  • 2. discuss the philosophical implications of the different ways in which humans think about and interact with other animals;
  • 3. apply appropriate theoretical models to facilitate an analysis of human-animal interactions. Situate specific human-animal interactions within socio-historical context;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. show an appreciation of the synergies and conflicts between the different branches of anthropology (biological/social) in relation to theorising human-animal interactions;
  • 5. recognise the contested nature of knowledge and demonstrate an ability to consider human-animal relationships in a reflexive and critically analytical manner;
  • 6. critically consider the ethical dimensions of human-animal interactions, especially in relation to the practical application of anthropological knowledge (applied anthropology);

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. plan, undertake and present written work of a scholarly standard that demonstrates an understanding of anthropological aims, methods and theoretical considerations and engages with the (published) work of others;
  • 8. engage in constructive group discussions, and present/defend material orally (during seminars).

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The module will explore a wide range of ethnographic examples which detail how humans (including anthropologists) think about and interact with other animals. Key theoretical issues will also be explored.

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  •    The relationship between humans, nonhuman animals and anthropology
  •     Continuity and difference between humans and other primates
  •     Domestication
  •     Animal classification and symbolism
  •     Animals as food
  •     Conservation
  •     Pet keeping

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities2211 x 2 hour lectures which will include group discussions and films where appropriate
Guided independent study44Weekly reading for lectures
Guided independent study24Preparing for formative assessments
Guided independent study60Research and writing of essay


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay proposal750 words1-6, 8Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Topic Essay803,000 words1- 3, 6-8Written
Tutorial participation for tutorial readings covered for topics 1-1120Weekly, as part of group discussions (15 minutes)1-3, 6-8Verbal


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Topic EssayTopic Essay of 3,000 words1-3, 6-8August/September reassessment period
Tutorial participation for tutorial readings covered for topics 1-11Individual presentation (10 minutes)1-3, 6-8August/September reassessment period


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Animal Studies Group. 2006. Killing animals. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Arluke, A. B. & Sanders, C. 1996. Regarding Animals. Philadelphia: Temple University Press

Cassidy, R. & Mullin, M. (eds.) 2007. Where the Wild Things Are Now. Oxford: Berg.

Kirksey, E. and Helmreich, S. (eds) 2010. The emergence of multispecies ethnography – special issue. Cultural Anthropology 25.

Knight, J. (ed.) 2005. Animals in Person: Cultural Perspectives on Human-Animal Intimacies. Oxford: Berg.

Mullin, M. 1999 'Mirrors and windows: Sociocultural Studies of Human-Animal Relationships' Annual Review of Anthropology. Volume 28: 201 - 224

Noske, B. 1993. 'The Animal Question in Anthropology' in Society and Animals. Volume 1 (2).

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Animals, pets, human-animal interactions

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date

March 2012

Last revision date