1 year (full time) or up to 4 years (part-time)
Study mode
Full-time & Part-time
Other costs
Other costs apply

About this course


Why are human groups and their ways of life so different around the world? Why, for example, do many New Zealanders believe it is disgusting and cruel to eat dog, while Muslims don't eat pork, and Hindus think cows are sacred? Why do most New Zealanders think marriage should only involve two partners, while the President of South Africa, following a Zulu custom, has three wives? Why do so many young people in New Zealand decide to get tattoos while many youths in Papua New Guinea willingly undergo painful scarification rituals? Why do such cultural differences develop and how might we understand them better?

Anthropology literally means 'the study of human beings,' while cultures are patterns of human behaviour and knowledge that every human learns as a member of a society. Cultural Anthropology focuses on how these cultural patterns shape our experiences. Anthropologists carry out research using the unique method of participant observation; they often live with the people they study for over a year, learn their language, and adopt their daily habits, gaining in-depth and firsthand insights into their way of life. This leads them to produce ethnographies: richly detailed texts describing the life and experiences of a cultural group.

Students of Cultural Anthropology explore how culture is expressed in areas such as ritual, symbolism, language, personality, religion, inequality, gender, family, art and politics. We compare life in New Zealand to the way people live in a range of diverse locations around the world. Understanding how other societies organise their lives and give meaning to their existence also increases our understanding of our own cultural worlds.

Whether studying the hunting practices of Amazonian tribes or the politics of global agribusiness, the rituals of Pacific chiefs or the culture of corporate New Zealand, anthropology students explore what it means to be human today.

Cultural Anthropology lecturers at Victoria University have research expertise in such fields as: ritual, migration, inequality, ethnicity, psychological anthropology, historical anthropology, colonisation, indigenous peoples, and charity and development. They have carried out research in countries such as Greece, Italy, New Zealand, Germany, Canada, Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands.

Entry Requirements

The GDipArts is a qualification enabling students to specialise at an advanced level in areas not included in their BA. It may be used as a transitional qualification providing a pathway from a BA to the BA(Hons) degree in a specific area.

The GDipArts is a one-year full-time or up to four years' part-time programme of study. Courses are chosen in consultation with the Head of School or Postgraduate Coordinator in the subject area in which you would like the GDipArts awarded.

The entry requirements are as follows:

Before enrolment, a candidate for the GDipArts shall have:

  1. (i) completed the requirements of a BA degree; and
  2. (ii) been accepted by the relevant Head of School as capable of proceeding with the proposed course of study.
  3. Requirement (i) may be waived by the Head of School for a candidate who has completed another Bachelors degree.

The general requirements are as follows:

  1. The course of study for the GDipArts shall be a coherent programme approved by the relevant Head of School in a major subject area listed in the BA statute. It shall consist of at least 120 points in courses numbered 200-499, including at least 75 points at 300 level or above. The inclusion of points above 300-level will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances. Except as provided in 2 below, the courses shall be selected from those satisfying the requirements for a single listed BA major.
  2. The Head of School may approve the inclusion of up to 30 points from courses offered in another discipline or subject area.
  3. At the discretion of the Associate Dean, up to 40 points may be included from courses passed for a Certificate of Proficiency before enrolment for the diploma.

Please note: All students enrolled in a GDipArts prior to 2011 will be able to complete under the 2010 regulations, so long as they complete the requirements within four years of first enrolling in the qualification.

Please discuss and plan your programme on the form provided in the table below with the Head of School or Postgraduate Coordinator in the subject area in which you would like the GDipArts awarded.