Branches of Anthropology

8 minute read
Branches of Anthropology

Have you ever wondered how modern civilization came to being? As an individual, we often take for granted the various systems that we see established in our society. But for those raising questions about its very existence, anthropology is the science for you. Some fields of study have been reshaped and infused with diverse subjects. Anthropology is one such field that combines diverse subjects to study humanity as a holistic concept.  It involves in its scope many spheres of the world and encompasses manifold aspects of human life. Anthropology is now a growing area of academics with more and more students opting for it. This has resulted in unprecedented development in the field and rigorous research coming to the fore. The anthropology syllabus is ever-expanding and focuses on varied disciplines and anthropology has evolved to be a major field of study across universities with new branches of anthropology being introduced. This blog will take you through the various branches of anthropology giving you an insight into all the engaging aspects each branch deals with.   

What is Anthropology?

Anthropology entails the scientific study of human beings, their behaviour and also the social structure, encompassing features from both past and present. As there are different aspects covered in anthropology, each has its own area of study and specialization. An anthropologist meticulously studies, explain and understand everything that is related to humans. The individual gathers a great amount of knowledge and can use it to bring about major research work in this field. For instance, social anthropology is concerned with studying different patterns of human behaviour whilst cultural anthropology studies cultural meaning, its various contexts, including its norms and values. The discipline of anthropology is a stimulating course that guides its undertakers through the various avenues of human civilizations, its minute nuances and the structural foundations holding it up.

History of Anthropology

While anthropology was addressed by Arab and Greek historians in a vague form, it has scientifically been around since the 18th century. Anthropology was the result of a cultural movement in Europe that led scholars to think about human advancements.  While religious ideologies were at their peak, some people pondered about human origins, cultures, and how civilizations existed around the world. As the world saw more imperialism and political rise, the gap between the various class in societies also emerged. This led to an increase in the discovery of unknown territories and civilizations in the world. Scholars and thinkers started studying these undiscovered territories. This led to the scientific research about humans and their social life called anthropology and gave rise to several branches.

This part of the blog will present different branches of anthropology and give a brief overview of what constitutes these multifarious branches. The multiple branches of anthropology are taught in various institutions and universities around the world. Following are the major branches of anthropology that a prospective student should be aware of.

  • Socio-cultural anthropology
  • Physical anthropology
  • Archaeological anthropology
  • Linguistic anthropology
  • Applied Anthropology
  • Psychological Anthropology

In this section, some of the branches of anthropology have been explained elaborately to present an idea of what these courses emphasize:

Socio-Cultural Anthropology

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 This is amongst the most prominent branches of anthropology. Anthropologists in the field study of socio-cultural anthropology usually conduct long term research on one or more social communities, observe and participate in their daily activities while they simultaneously engage in hectic interactions with community members. This approach is essentially collaborative and is rooted in conversations with people rather than making analyses from a distance, in order to get an insight into the functioning of the community as an insider rather than from external sources. Additionally, sociocultural anthropologists focus on effectively employing different methods taken from the field of humanities and various other branches of social sciences to supplement their research and produce knowledge that is unique in nature.

Physical Anthropology

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Physical anthropology or biological anthropology, as it is alternatively called, is an amalgamation of different academic disciplines like social studies and biological studies. There are two main concepts of this subject which are human evolution and the bio-social variation of human beings. This is a wide area of study and seamlessly blends a large number of topics and principles from many disciplines that are researched upon. One of the most interesting branches of anthropology, it has helped in learning and gathering a tremendous amount of knowledge about previous generations. This is a relatively newer branch of anthropology gaining importance in the last few years. Many books written on this subject have helped shape our understanding of the past.

Anthropology Fact: Over the past 50,000 years the human brain has shrunk by at least the size of a tennis ball!

Archaeological Anthropology

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 Archaeological anthropology is concerned with tracing the evolution and development of culture over centuries. Past here signifies a period when civilization had no known means of communication and humanity had not acquired skills of language or writing efficiencies. Archaeological anthropologists reconstruct the events of the past by employing different techniques and focussing on historical details that could go back to a million years. Archaeological anthropology tries to render a clear understanding of the geological processes that have left imprints and evidence on human civilization. This archaeological evidence lies in the abundant depositions that can be found in excavation sites and therefore the primary method to gather the evidence is that of conducting excavation to discover artefacts and construct the cultural history of our past.

Linguistic Anthropology

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An important and intriguing branch of anthropology, it is an interdisciplinary study of how languages shape and affect social life. This branch of anthropology emphasizes studying and documenting endangered languages. Over the years it has now grown in scope and incorporated different aspects of language. Linguistic anthropology is primarily concerned with studying how languages influence the exchange of communication, affects social identity, cultural beliefs and ideologies. It also helps in building a common cultural representation of natural and social worlds making it of absolute importance with the growing interconnectedness in the world.

Applied Anthropology

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One of the foremost branches of anthropology, it is all-encompassing and combines different areas of study. In a sense, applied anthropology is different from academic anthropology. All anthropological methods and data that are employed and put to use outside of the classroom are applied anthropology making it a practical study. Applied anthropology is effectively employed to solve different problems, through the practical applications of various methodologies and principles, outside of the academic world. It is known by different terms such as action anthropology, development anthropology, practising anthropology, and advocacy anthropology amongst others. A branch that offers the challenges of the real world, it is for those wishing to discover and uncover the secrets of the functioning of human society in reality. 

Did you know? People in hunter-gatherer societies had much shorter “work weeks” than people in agrarian societies or societies of today.

Psychological Anthropology

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Psychological anthropology is another significant branch of anthropology. It focuses on the cultural impact on our cognitive and behavioural patterns. Psychological anthropologists study how every culture and cultural traditions affect a person’s or group’s thought process. For instance, a psychological anthropologist studying eating disorders would analyse the subject from the standpoint of how the person’s cultural eating habits, body image rules and notions of beauty in that particular culture. Psychological anthropology is the scientific study of culture and mental processes on human behaviour and thought. It studies the relationship between culture, mind and personality and its impact on the individual.

Universities for Anthropology

There are numerous top-notch universities across the globe offering an array of courses in anthropology. Enlisted below are the popular universities that you should take into consideration if you are aiming to pursue your career in anthropology.

Top Indian Colleges offering Anthropology

Listed below are the top Indian Colleges offering Anthropology courses in India –

  1. IGNOU, Delhi
  2. Amity University, Noida
  3. Andhra University, Andhra Pradesh
  4. Savitribai Phule University
  5. University of Hyderabad
  6. University of Madras
  7. NIMS University

Career Scope and Job Profiles

After completing a course in Anthropology, students can choose to work in multiple fields like medicine, law, corporate, media houses, social and developmental arena, according to what best suits their interests. Candidates can apply for jobs at private organisations, museums, UNESCO etc. The job profiles are numerous for candidates studying anthropology. Listed below are the few top job profile for candidates pursuing anthropology:

  1. Scientist
  2. Anthropologist
  3. Consultant
  4. Medical Researcher
  5. Education Anthropologist
  6. Economic Anthropologist
  7. Business Anthropologist

Top Recruiters

  • Intel
  • Citicorp
  • Kodak
  • Boeing,
  • Motorola
  • Walt Disney
  • Microsoft
  • Hallmark


The salary of an anthropologist varies based on your level of expertise. Freshers must take time to explore the career and research options available to increase their knowledge and also become skilled in this field. The average salary of an anthropologist ranges from INR 2 Lakhs- 3.5 Lakhs. The salary can increase up to INR 4 Lakhs to 5 Lakhs depending on the position and experience.

In this blog, extensive details have been provided about different branches of anthropology to dispel all your queries about this discipline. Are you aiming to pursue a degree in anthropology from a top-notch university in the world? Let the experts at Study abroad facilitate your educational journey. They will guide you through the necessary processes and enhance your profile promoting your strengths. Sign up for your free 30 minutes of e-counselling with the team and unveil the mysteries of human civilization from time immemorial!

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