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Riga Stradins University

Faculty of Communication

Department of Communication Studies

Self-assessment Report

Master Degree Academic Programme

Social Anthropology”

for gaining a social science master degree in social anthropology

(code 45310)

Riga, 2008


1.1. Introduction 5

1.2. Evaluation of study programme from the point of view of Latvia 6

1.3. Characteristics of the master degree programme “Social anthropology” 9

1.3.1. Aims and objectives of the programme 9

1.3.2. Matriculation requirements 10

1.3.3. Content, volume, and length of the study programme 11

1.3.4. Organization of the master degree study programme 12

1.3.5. Content of the programme 17

1.3.6. Practical implementation of the master degree study programme 19

1.3.7. Evaluation system 20

1.3.8. Funding of studies 21

1.3.9. Technical and methodological provision of study materials 21

1.4. Students 23

1.4.1. Number of students 23

1.4.2. Students’ involvement in the improvement of the study process and student polls 23

1.5. Academic and administrative staff of the study program 24

1.5.1. Qualification and professionalism of the academic staff 24

1.5.2. Teachers involved in the Study Program 26

1.5.3. Research work of the academic staff 28

1.5.4. Policy for development of the academic staff 30

1.6. External relations 30

1.6.1. Relations with similar programmes in other universities 30

1.6.2. Relations with possible employers 30

1.7. Comparison of the Master’s Study Program with similar programs at universities abroad 31

1.7.1. Comparison with the Master’s study program in Social Anthropology of the University of Bristol. 31

1.7.2. Comparison with Master’s study program in Social Anthropology of the Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University 33

1.7.3. General conclusion about comparison of RSU, University of Bristol and Vytautas Magnus University 36

1.8. SWOT Analysis 37

1.9. Development plan for the programme 37

1.10. Summary of the evaluation 39

2. Appendices 40

2.1. APPENDIX 1: Information that certifies that at least 50% of elected academic staff works in the university and at least 50% of the academic staff in the university have doctoral degree 40

2.2. APPENDIX 2: CVs of involved teachers 41

2.3. APPENDIX 3: Detailed course descriptions 109

2.4. APPENDIX 4: Example of a diploma and appendix of the diploma 189

2.5. APPENDIX 5: List of all courses indicating amount in credits, position in time, involved academic staff (table form) 194

2.6. APPENDIX 6: List of the involved academic staff: academic position, degree, elected or not elected and courses taught 197

2.7. APPENDIX 7: Questionnaire form for evaluation of a teacher and learning process 199

2.8. APPENDIX 8: Distribution of courses over semesters and modules (example) 200

2.9. APPENDIX 9: List of documents available in the department on request 201

List of tables

Table 1: The correspondence of the programme to the standards of the Latvian higher education (the Cabinet’s regulation Nr 2, 3 January, 2002) 7

Table 2: Characteristics of the master degree programme “Social anthropology” 9

Table 3: The distribution of credit points between the A and B categories and semesters 11

Table 4: The classification of the study courses according to their content and compulsiveness (A or B) 13

Table 5: List of academic staff: position, education and scientific degree, permanent or contracted and taught courses (see also Appendix 6) 25

Table 6: Courses taught, number of credit points, category and involved teachers 26

Table 7: Summary of comparison of social anthropology Master's programmes in RSU and two other universities 37


Academic study programme

“Social Anthropology” a social science master degree in social anthropology

(code 45310)

RSU Faculty of Communication

Department of Communication Studies

Riga, LV—1007, Dzirciema 16

Telephone number 371 7409183

Head of the programme: Martins Boiko

Head of the department assoc. professor Dr.philol., Dr.phil., Martins Boiko

Contact person lecturer MPhil Klavs Seldlenieks, tel. 28298499

Riga Januray 2009


At the beginning of 2007 the academic master degree programme “Social Anthropology” was created in Riga Stradins University. On the 21June 2007 the programme was licensed, and in January 2007 first students were accepted. The self-assessment report presented below was prepared by analyzing the experience gained from previous work, continually improving study process, and assessing students’ views on the programme.

The programme described here was developed with awareness that prospective students would not have acquired deep knowledge of social anthropology during their bachelor degree studies. The general format of the programme corresponds to the international practice in master degree studies in this field. The developers of the programme received their education and deepened their knowledge in analogous European and other countries’ higher school programmes and tried to integrate their experience in the Latvian educational system. While developing the programme some colleagues from other European Union (EU) countries were consulted. Therefore students who complete this programme enjoy full rights to continue their academic education in Latvia or other countries and acquire a doctoral degree or be engaged in the labour market using their knowledge practically, in the same way as their colleagues do in other countries.

The master degree study programme “Social Anthropology” was developed on the basis of 4 main principles:

  1. It was developed as so far a unique social anthropology programme in Latvia and therefore it includes the spectrum of courses which enables students to intensively acquire comprehensive knowledge on the theoretical and practical aspects of the field.

  2. The courses included in the programme develop students’ abilities and skills according to the traditions of social anthropology which enables the students to perform practical research and analyze the results not only in terms of Latvian context, but also globally, thus becoming fully involved in the international research activities. This principle is in line with the integration of the Latvian society in the global processes and the demand for specialists who possess professional academic knowledge and skills in order to research, analyze, and practically develop the integration process.

  3. While developing the programme it was taken into account that:

a) Riga Stradins University (RSU) traditionally is involved in the field of medicine, therefore in the programme some attention is devoted to topics which are related to medicine and could be integrated in the training of medical specialists.

b) the programme was developed by RSU Faculty of Communication (FC),

Chair of Communication Studies, therefore a part of it is related to the anthropological aspects of communication and could be integrated in the training of students studying communication.

  1. Since social anthropological practice is closely related to a researcher’s personal engagement in the research process as well as to necessity to conduct lengthy observations, considerable attention is paid to the development of field work (practical observation) skills.

The master degree programme “Social Anthropology” was developed according to the Cabinet’s Regulations on the state academic education standards (Cabinet regulation Nr. 2, 3 January 2002). In the programme there are integrated the principles of Bologna process which enables one to compare acquired qualifications and to use the qualification for pursuing an academic or professional career within or outside EU.

1.2.Evaluation of study programme from the point of view of Latvia

The academic master degree programme “Social Anthropology” was developed according to the state requirements of academic education standards.

So far none of Latvian higher schools has offered a similar programme. Separate social anthropology courses are taught at the bachelor or master levels at various Latvian higher schools (the Daugavpils University, the University of Latvia, the Riga Economics School, the Riga International School of Economics and Business Administration) however, their number is not sufficient for students to acquire theoretical knowledge and practical research skills which are necessary for working in the field of social anthropology.

The significance of the programme for the development of the state and the region is conditioned by Latvia’s increasing involvement in processes at European and global levels.

a) Due to the fundamental interest of social anthropology to human societies in all their manifestations, both geographical and historical ones, social anthropology makes a valuable contribution to the understanding of cultural variety. Having grown into a full partner in European and global processes, Latvia, which used to be a recipient country only, is now increasingly maturing into a donor state. Therefore, there is a need for specialists who are trained to work both theoretically and practically with other cultures.

b) The contribution which social anthropology has made to the fostering of tolerance and understanding other cultures cannot be underestimated. With Latvia’s increasing involvement in global processes, including free movement of labour, the Latvian society is facing the need to understand cultural variety. Knowledge of cultural differences is immensely valuable for reducing such negative phenomena as xenophobia, intolerance, ethnocentrism, racism, etc.

c) Returning to the European circles, it is important for the academic community of Latvia that Latvian higher schools should be able to train specialists in the field which has traditionally been among the most significant programmes offered by European higher schools.

d) The history of anthropology in those countries where it has been deeply rooted has proved that social anthropology has accumulated knowledge which has always been successfully used in many spheres including profound understanding of the local culture. Therefore such true values of modern Europe as the understanding of cultural variety, tolerance, gender equity have been developed in close relation with the ideas of social anthropology. Those few social anthropologists who work in Latvia are often engaged in various significant projects at the state level or in research work. This proves the fact that there has grown a need and demand for social anthropologists in Latvia.

The significance of the programme at the state and region levels is also conditioned by the inadequate amount of socio-anthropological research of the Latvian and Baltic societies and cultures which is caused by the lack of specialists with proper qualifications. Although the amount of research has grown in the last decade, it still is scarce.

Table 1: The correspondence of the programme to the standards of the Latvian higher education (the Cabinet’s regulation Nr 2, 3 January, 2002)

Requirements of the state academic standards

Resolutions of the programme “Social anthropology”

4. The structure and contents of a study programme promote the acquisition of knowledge and skills of scientific cognition and the realization of scientific ideas. Acquired academic education is a prerequisite to the acquisition of an academic qualification as well as to scientifically based activities in a corresponding professional sphere.

The programme is designed so that it fosters students’ abilities to autonomously acquire knowledge and use it in research work or in a professional sphere. When completing the programme, students are required to demonstrate acquired knowledge and skills by defending their master degree dissertation.

5. The volume of the programme is specified by the number of credit points. Credit points are awarded for each acquired subject (also for practice) if the evaluation result is positive.

Yes. Credit points are not awarded if the overall evaluation result is below a 4.

6.1 the obligatory evaluation principle—it is necessary to obtain positive results of the evaluation of the programme contents.

If the student’s achievements are evaluated by a mark below a 4, he or she is not awarded credit points.

6.2 in evaluation, the principle of varied evaluation methods is applied – in the evaluation of programme acquisition, various evaluation methods are used; the basic forms of evaluation are the credit and the examination.


6.3 the principle of evaluation correspondence—in evaluation assignment, students are given an opportunity to demonstrate their analytical, creative and research abilities, acquired knowledge, and skills at applying scientific ideas.


7. The results of studies are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 10.


8. The realization of study programmes stipulates the simultaneous acquisition of not more than six obligatory subjects.

Yes. Students usually acquire two or three subjects simultaneously. The module system is particularly useful for the fulfillment of the requirement.

20. Master studies are the acquisition of profound theoretical knowledge and the development of research skills in a chosen academic field.

Yes. Although in Latvia there is not a bachelor degree programme in social anthropology, the existing bachelor or second level professional higher education provide the basics of academic approach as well as general information on society and culture. The programme in question provides the means to gain a qualification in social anthropology on this knowledge basis.

23. The volume of master degree study programmes is 80 credit points, out of which at least 20 points are awarded for the master degree dissertation. The master degree dissertation is research work in a chosen academic field or sub-field where the student draws his/her own conclusions.


24. The obligatory contents of a master degree study programme include the study of theoretical ideas of the corresponding academic field or sub-field (at least 30 credit points) and the approbation of theoretical ideas of the chosen academic field or sub-field in the context of topical issues (at least 15 points)

Mostly, the total number of credit points awarded for the acquisition of theoretical courses is 24. At least 6 more credit points are awarded for the study of theoretical ideas in ethnography and methodology courses. The majority of the courses included in the programme consider the application of corresponding theories in the context of topical issues. The precise number of points awarded for these themes is not specified as the mentioned assignments are performed during the integrated study process.

1.3.Characteristics of the master degree programme “Social anthropology”

Table 2: Characteristics of the master degree programme “Social anthropology”

Academic degree

Social science master degree in social anthropology




Social anthropology

Length of studies

2 years

Entrance requirements

Bachelor or 2nd level professional higher education diploma

Volume of the programme


A part

B part

C part

Master degree dissertation

80 credit points (cp)

32 cp

28 cp


20 cp

Programme realization venue

Riga Stradins University

Type of the programme

Full-time studies

1.3.1. Aims and objectives of the programme

The aim of the academic master degree study programme “Social anthropology” is to educate specialists in social anthropology whose qualifications meet international standards of social anthropology, who can carry out academic research as well as engage in solving practical problems, and who can fully participate in internationa job market for social anthropologists or continue their education on the PhD level.

Objectives of the master degree programme:

  1. to provide the means to acquire academic knowledge in social anthropology at the level which corresponds to a master degree qualification.

  2. to educate competent specialists, who can adequately comprehend and effectively resolve assignments in cooperation with clients and professionals in other fields, apply skills of productive and critical thinking, successfully work in a team.

  3. to develop and improve the knowledge of assessment of social processes and culture, and their analysis according to research aims, choosing appropriate methods, performing data collection, processing analysis and interpretation, documenting obtained research results and drawing conclusions.

  4. to enable students to gain profound knowledge about various societies and cultures in the global context, to develop their abilities to analyse social processes critically and comparatively analyze social processes.

  1. to enrich knowledge on the performance of research work, develop critical thinking, improve research work skills in order to conduct research in social anthropology and be able to critically assess and present it.

  2. to motivate master degree students as prospective specialists in social anthropology to grow and improve by being engaged in further education and life-long learning, to develop initiative, competence, and responsibility.

Results of the master degree programme “Social Anthropology”:

  1. During the study process students acquire the following knowledge:

a) on the history of social anthropology theories development and modern tendencies;

b) on anthropological research in the context of religion, kinship, economics, politics, gender;

c) on anthropological research and tendencies at least in three world’s cultural geographic regions.

d) on the theoretical grounds of anthropological research methods.

  1. During the study process students acquire the following skills:

a) being able to read, study, and analyze special theoretical literature and to apply that to developing new, original idea;

b) being able to apply theoretical knowledge in order to analyze, interpret, and resolve theoretical and/or practical problems in an unfamiliar environment.

c) being able to apply knowledge to the interpretation of complex situations under the condition of incomplete information.

d) being able to clearly report one’s conclusions as well as the arguments leading to the conclusions.

e) being able to autonomously develop, plan, and conduct anthropological research and analyze obtained data.

  1. During their studies students are encouraged to form views which are characteristic of anthropologists:

1. A critical attitude to processes in society, their research and analysis which is based on scientific principles.

2. An attitude to cultural variety which corresponds to anthropological traditions, an ability to empathize with people of other cultures and their way of thinking.

The programme complies with the requirements of the Latvian higher education standards and is designed so that it should correspond as exactly as possible to the principles of the Bologna process.

1.3.2.Matriculation requirements

For the requiring payment places in the academic full-time master degree programme those candidates are selected who hold a bachelor degree or a second level professional diploma of higher education from a study programme accredited by the state, and who successfully pass the entrance examination. Prior knowledge in social science or humanities is advisable but not obligatory. The entrance examination includes an interview and writing an essay on a topic which is related to socio-anthological problems. In the essay, candidates are also required to outline their prospective master degree dissertation theme.

The evaluation of the interview and the essay constitutes the total entrance examination mark.

The selection committee evaluates candidates’ abilities to discuss their ideas in writing, their motivation, desire and possibilities to study (mostly in terms of time and being busy). The mark for the previously awarded diploma is not taken into account, since some candidates gained their diplomas in fields other than social anthropology, and a considerable time ago. Nevertheless, during the in-depth interview, when candidates should both explain their motivation and demonstrate their knowledge of society, social theories, ability to interpret current events, their preparedness to study is thoroughly assessed.

Foreign applicants should be educated at a level which corresponds to the Latvian bachelor degree. The compliance of their diplomas is specified by the Academic Information Centre, which carries out expert examination.

1.3.3.Content, volume, and length of the study programme

The study programme is implemented in the form of full-time studies.

The total length of studies is 4 semesters. The total volume of the programme is 80 credit points. During one semester, master degree students should complete courses whose volume is 20 credit points or 40 credit points during one year. One credit point accounts for 10 contact hours or 40 hours of a student’s work in order to complete the course. The content of the study programme is formed by A and B part study courses. (See the distribution of credit points between the programme parts and semesters in Table 3)

Table 3: The distribution of credit points between the A and B categories and semesters

Programme Part

Total CP






Category A






Category B






Master degree dissertation writing and defending









Category A study courses include basic courses which educate master degree students on the main theoretical approaches of social anthropology as well as on the most important practical skills. Master degree students improve their theoretical knowledge in practical classes and seminars. A part courses are obligatory courses, their volume is 32 credit points.

Category B courses are optional study courses which enable students to profoundly explore particular topics according to their academic interests and their conceived master degree dissertation theme. Out of 52 credit points on offer, 28 credit points should be chosen, submitting the choice to the programme director’s approval.

Completing the studies, students defend their master degree dissertations (20 credit points).

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