First year courses

Welcome to Anthropology at Western!

This is the place to learn more about the different first year course options we offer, why you should consider choosing one or several of these options, and how they fit into Anthropology’s undergraduate modules.

Why take a first year course in Anthropology?

Anthropology may not be what you think it is. Even if you have studied a little Anthropology in High School, or have seen TV shows or documentaries featuring Anthropologists at work, it is likely that you have not yet been introduced to the great breadth of our discipline. Anthropology is not only the study of how processes of biological evolution have made us the species we are today, nor is it only the study of past human cultures and societies through archaeological research, nor is it only the study of the diverse ways in which people around the world live, organize, use language, and experience the forces of globalization. Anthropology is the study of all of these things, and more. For an up-to-date sense of the breadth of topics addressed by Anthropologists today, check out SAPIENS (

Students love our introductory courses. Instructors consistently receive excellent evaluations from students.

Taking an introductory Anthropology course will open your mind.

Anthropology is unique among disciplines in how we approach the human experience in the broad, holistic way that we do, focusing on how humans are simultaneously biological, social, cultural, and language-using beings. An introductory course in Anthropology will challenge you (in a good way!) to think differently about what makes us human and how we have come to be this way.

You will not be disappointed.

Student evaluation statistics consistently reveal that even students who enter our introductory courses with a relatively low “initial level of enthusiasm” come out of them with a profound appreciation for what they have learned. Put another way: if you are not sure whether you will get something out of an introductory Anthropology course, rest assured that you will!

First year Anthropology will stick with you.

We often hear two kinds of stories from students who have discovered Anthropology through an introductory course at Western. The first, commonly told by students who continue in one of our modules, is that experiences in first year Anthropology are what ignited a passion for the discipline. The second, commonly told by students who only took an introductory course with us, is that Anthropology was a favorite first year course, offering insights on humanity that have proven memorable and relevant beyond their time with us.

What if I'm not planning on pursuing Anthropology?

Not all students who take introductory courses in Anthropology will end up pursuing modules with us, and we don’t see this as a bad thing. In fact, we anticipate it by ensuring that our introductory courses will broaden and enrich students’ understandings of humanity in ways that will serve them well no matter what their particular interests or goals. Given the breadth of our discipline, an introductory Anthropology course is an excellent choice for students intent on pursuing modules in Arts and Humanities, Psychology, Sociology, Geography, History, Political Science, Economics, Biology, Health Sciences, Women’s Studies, and other areas that focus on different aspects of the human experience.


Which introductory anthropology course should I take?

1020 Many Ways of Being Human

Anthropology 1020 will introduce you to the full breadth of Anthropology in an engaging full year (1.0 credit) non-essay course comprised of four six-week sections, each featuring lectures from specialist instructors and weekly tutorials.

An introduction to anthropology (the study of human beings, past and present) co-taught by specialists in biological anthropology, archaeology, linguistic anthropology, and sociocultural anthropology. Students will explore anthropological approaches to and findings concerning: human evolution; variation and adaptation; diverse forms of social, political, and economic organization; culture; ritual; language; communication; identity; gender; health; social inequality; and globalization.

Antirequisites are Anthropology 1021A/B, 1022A/B, 1025F/G and 1026F/G.

1020, Section 001, Course Outline

1020, Section 002, Course Outline

1021A/B Introduction to Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology

This course is the same as Anthropology 1025F/G with the difference being there is no essay component and instead has tutorials. There are 2 lecture/class hours plus 1 tutorial hour per week.

Antirequisites are Anthropology 1020 (formerly Anthropology 1020E) and 1025F/G.

1021A-001, Course Outline

1022A/B Introduction to Biological Anthropology and Archaeology

This course is the same as Anthropology 1026F/G with the difference being there is no essay component and instead has tutorials. There are 2 lecture/class hours plus 1 tutorial hour per week.

Antirequisites are Anthropology 1020 (formerly Anthropology 1020E) and 1026F/G.

1022B-001, Winter term. A course outline will be available towards the beginning of the term.

1025F/G Introduction to Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology

An introductory course teaching basic concepts in the study of sociocultural and linguistic practices worldwide. It underscores shared human experiences as well as our rich diversity. Topics include: changing sociocultural and economic institutions, political and religious systems, and the role of language in the workings of power, indexicality and indentity.

This is a 0.5 essay course and consists of 3 lecture hours per week.

Antirequisites are Anthropology 1020 (formerly Anthropology 1020E) and 1021A/B.

1025F-650, Fall term. Distance Studies, Course Outline

1025G-200, Winter term. A Course Outline will be available towards the beginning of the term.

1026F/G Introduction to Biological Anthropology and Archaeology

An introduction to aspects of biological anthropology and archaeology which help us to understand the place of humankind in nature. Topics to be covered include: heredity, human evolution, and variability, archaeological method, the development of culture, the domestication of plants and animals, and the rise of civilization and the state.

This is a 0.5 essay course and consists of 3 lecture hours per week.

Antirequisites are Anthropology 1020 (formerly Anthropology 1020E) and 1022A/B.

1026F-200, Fall term. Course Outline

1026G-650, Winter term.  Distance Studies. Course Outline

1027A/B Introduction to Linguistics

An introduction to basic concepts and methods of modern linguistics. Topics include articulatory and acoustic phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics. This course is a prerequisite for subsequent linguistics courses and modules in the Department of Anthropology and/or the Linguistics program.

This is a 0.5 non-essay course and includes 2 lecture hours plus 1 tutorial hour. It is offered in both the Fall and Winter terms.

Antirequisite is Linguistics 2288A/B.

1027A-001, Fall term. Course Outline

1027B-001, Winter term. A course outline will be available towards the beginning of the term.

Students love our intro courses!

Our introductory courses consistently receive great evaluations from the students who take them. Here is a selection of comments taken from student evaluations of Anthropology 1020 in 2017-18:

"It is nice how for every type of anthropology you get an expert on that field so you get the best learning experience."

"Interesting Course! Highly recommend to first year students"

"I LOVED it!"

"One of my favourite courses this semester"

 "It is organized so well, it's easy to know what is required for each lecture and the study guides help a lot when it comes to retaining information."

 "Anthropology is an organized course and I appreciate having four different sections with different professors to keep it fresh and interesting."

 "I really appreciate that we are taught, albeit briefly, in all four areas of anthropology; this is extremely useful as we decide on our majors and have to make decisions pertaining to course selection."

"Very interesting. As a Health Science Student, I came into the course with minimal background and a lack of interest. This course was mind-opening and kept me engaged throughout."

"I really like the labs we do in the tutorials. I feel like they help give a good understanding of the course, and they're fun."

“I am in the science faculty (biology) and anthropology has always interested me; specifically biological anthropology. Although I am pretty much only taking this course to fulfill my essay requirement, it has brought such a great interest to me. It has made me reconsider my potential major of choice and I am now thinking of majoring in biological anthropology whether or not it be a double major with biology. It is definitely something I am considering. Thank you!”

“Very enjoyable and would recommend to any first years coming in, or second years like myself that need to make up a credit, was unsure going into the course but I am glad I continued with it.”

“Lots of group work and peer discussion made the concepts of the course easier to understand”

“I thoroughly enjoyed this course! This course so far has made me want to pursue anthropology next school year.” 

“This course is thorough and well organized. I appreciate that we have different professors for different topics in anthropology.” 

“This is a really interesting course. I do not major in anthropology and I could still understand and enjoy the course.”

“This course is definitely not what I expected. I was pleasantly surprised by the content we were taught. The labs were also super helpful and interesting.”

“I believe the evaluations for the course are very fair, and enjoy the layout of it.”

 “Great learning experience. Helps you grow as a person.”