Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


This unit considers epistemology in the social sciences or, simply, how we know what we know in the social sciences in general. It considers theories of knowledge. As such, epistemological questions are central in the social sciences, especially when evaluating differences among various schools of thought. Our traversal of this terrain considers some of the crucial questions in theory construction and validation in the social sciences from an epistemological perspective. Students consider questions such as how can underlying principles be discovered and validated? Can specific theories be proven and refuted? If so, what constitutes evidence for this? How commensurable are epistemological bases of various perspectives? Must we posit a reality outside cultural constructions to present interpretations and explanations? What sorts of epistemological assumptions support a stance of cultural relativism and what sorts deny that position? How does situated knowledge or tacit knowledge challenge claims for objectivity or relativism? What is the role of subjectivity in social analysis? What sorts of representational strategies best convey the epistemologies of others? Students address these questions through the works of Durkheimian sociology, Marxisms, Weberian sociology, interpretive anthropology, phenomenological anthropology, ethnomethodology, practice theory, Foucauldianism and feminism.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Non-standard teaching periodUWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Honours core unit in Anthropology; Archaeology; Asian Studies; Communication and Media Studies; Gender Studies; Linguistics; Political Science and International Relations [Bachelor of Arts (Honours)]

Students are able to (1) demonstrate advanced knowledge of key theories in the social sciences, the complexity of different perspectives and the historical development of social thought; (2) demonstrate a broad and critical understanding of the range of approaches and theories in the social sciences; (3) analyse and assess a range of opinions about a specific question in a key area of the social sciences and to apply critical analytical skills through an analytical exercise to produce a reasoned argument with intellectual independence; and (4) articulate epistemological assumptions and how they are deployed in writing.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) seminar participation and (2) written assignments. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Richard Vokes
Unit rules
ANTH7483 Honours Seminar 3 (Anthropology)
Contact hours
seminars: 2 hours per week for up to 10 weeks
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.