How to Write IB Social and Cultural Anthropology IA

Table of Contents

IB Social and Cultural Anthropology IA

The International Baccalaureate Social and Cultural Anthropology course invites students to embark on an enthralling adventure into the rich tapestry of human societies and cultures. As you delve into this fascinating realm, you’ll discover the unique customs, beliefs, and practices that define different communities across the globe. The course is designed to foster a deep appreciation for the diversity of human experience, and to equip you with the tools and skills necessary to explore and analyze these cultural intricacies.

A pivotal aspect of the IB Social and Cultural Anthropology course is the Internal Assessment, which provides you with a fantastic opportunity to put your anthropological prowess into practice. Through the IA, you’ll embark on your own ethnographic journey, examining a particular social or cultural phenomenon within a chosen community. This hands-on experience not only allows you to apply the theories and concepts you’ve learned throughout the course but also helps you develop critical thinking and research skills that will serve you well in your academic and professional pursuits.

In this comprehensive guide, we’re here to support you every step of the way as you work on your IA. We’ll delve into the nitty-gritty details of what makes an exceptional IA, from the initial stages of selecting an engaging and relevant topic to the final touches of crafting an eloquent and captivating report. As we navigate this exciting process together, we’ll share practical tips, useful examples, and valuable insights to ensure you feel confident and well-prepared.

So, let’s not waste any time – grab your metaphorical explorer’s hat, and let’s dive headfirst into the thrilling world of Social and Cultural Anthropology!

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Selecting a Suitable Topic

Embarking on your IA journey begins with one crucial step: selecting a suitable topic. This decision can feel overwhelming, but worry not – we’re here to help! Choosing a relevant and engaging topic sets the stage for a successful IA, so it’s essential to give this step the attention it deserves.

First and foremost, ensure that your topic is rooted in ethnographic focus. This means that it should investigate a specific cultural or social phenomenon within a particular community, group, or setting. By narrowing in on a localized context, you’ll be able to explore the nuances and intricacies of the subject matter, thus enriching your anthropological understanding.

Another key aspect of topic selection is striking the right balance between personal interest and academic potential. You’ll be dedicating a significant amount of time and effort to your IA, so it’s crucial to pick a subject that genuinely intrigues and excites you. However, it’s equally important to ensure that the topic offers ample opportunities for anthropological analysis, allowing you to showcase your academic prowess.

To help spark your inspiration, here are a few examples of engaging and relevant topics:

  1. The role of traditional medicine in a rural community: Delve into the world of herbal remedies, healing rituals, and medicinal practices passed down through generations. How do these customs coexist with modern medicine, and what do they reveal about the community’s beliefs and values?
  2. The impact of social media on youth culture in an urban setting: Social media has transformed the way we interact, communicate, and perceive ourselves. Investigate how digital platforms shape the experiences, relationships, and identities of young people in an urban context. What are the implications for their sense of belonging, self-expression, and cultural participation?
  3. Marriage customs and their significance in a particular ethnic group: Unravel the rich tapestry of marriage customs within a specific ethnic community, exploring the symbolism, rituals, and social functions of these cherished traditions. How do these practices reflect and reinforce the group’s cultural identity, kinship systems, and gender roles?

Remember, these examples are merely starting points to help fuel your imagination. Be sure to tailor your topic to your unique interests and the specific context you’ll be studying. Happy topic hunting!

Developing a Research Question

With your topic in hand, it’s time to take the next exciting step: crafting a specific and focused research question. This question serves as the guiding light for your IA, steering your investigation and analysis towards meaningful insights. To ensure your research question is a powerful tool for success, it’s essential to keep it closely connected to anthropological concepts and theories, allowing you to showcase your mastery of the discipline.

As you refine your research question, keep these helpful tips in mind:

  1. Keep it focused: Your research question should be narrow enough to be addressed comprehensively within the scope of your IA. While it’s tempting to tackle grand, sweeping questions, remember that the IA is an opportunity to delve deep into a particular aspect of your topic. By honing in on a specific issue, you’ll be able to conduct a thorough investigation and provide meaningful analysis.

For example, instead of asking, “What is the impact of social media on society?”, consider narrowing your focus to, “How does social media influence the formation of youth subcultures in a specific city?”

  1. Make it anthropological: Your question should be rooted in cultural or social aspects, steering clear of personal opinions or beliefs. This will ensure your research is grounded in the discipline of anthropology, allowing you to apply relevant theories and concepts to your analysis.

For instance, rather than asking, “Do people prefer traditional or modern medicine?”, reframe the question to, “How do cultural beliefs and values shape the use of traditional and modern medicine within a rural community?”

To help illustrate what effective research questions look like, here are a couple of examples:

  1. How do traditional gender roles influence marriage practices in a rural community? This question invites you to explore the intersections of culture, gender, and tradition within a specific context, providing ample opportunities for anthropological analysis.
  2. In what ways does social media contribute to the construction of identity among urban youth? This question encourages you to delve into the complex relationship between digital platforms and cultural identity, examining how social media shapes the experiences and self-perceptions of young people in an urban setting.

As you craft your research question, remember to stay curious, open-minded, and focused on the fascinating world of anthropology. With a well-defined question guiding your IA journey, you’re well on your way to success!

Writing the IA

The final stage of your IA journey is crafting a well-structured and well-written report. This is your chance to showcase the hard work you’ve put into your research and analysis, so it’s crucial to ensure your report is polished, engaging, and academically sound. To help you create a top-notch IA, follow the formatting guidelines provided by your instructor or the IB program, and keep these essential tips in mind:

  1. Clearly present your research question, methods, findings, and conclusions: Organize your report in a logical and coherent manner, guiding your reader through the various stages of your IA. Begin with an introduction that presents your research question and provides context for your study. Next, outline the methods you used to collect data and the ethical considerations you addressed. Present your findings, highlighting key patterns and themes, and wrap up with a conclusion that ties everything together and discusses the implications of your research.
  2. Use concise and precise language, avoiding unnecessary jargon: Your report should be clear, accessible, and engaging. Use straightforward language and avoid overly technical terms or jargon that might confuse your reader. While it’s essential to demonstrate your understanding of anthropological concepts, be sure to explain them in a way that is easy to understand.
  3. Provide ample evidence from your data to support your claims: As you analyze your findings and draw conclusions, remember to back up your claims with concrete evidence from your data. Use quotes, observations, and examples from your research to illustrate your points and strengthen your arguments. This will not only bolster your credibility but also help your reader better understand and appreciate the depth of your analysis.
  4. Cite your sources correctly, adhering to the appropriate citation style: Proper citation is a critical aspect of academic writing. Ensure that you give credit to the sources you’ve used, including scholarly articles, books, and other materials that have informed your research. Follow the citation style specified by your instructor or the IB program (such as APA, MLA, or Chicago), and be consistent in your formatting throughout the report.

With these tips in mind, you’re well-equipped to create an impressive IA report that effectively showcases your anthropological knowledge and skills. Take pride in your work, and remember that your IA is a testament to your dedication, curiosity, and growth as a budding anthropologist.


As we conclude our comprehensive guide, it is evident that a successful IB Social and Cultural Anthropology IA results from the harmonious integration of several vital elements. From choosing an engaging and pertinent topic to formulating a focused research question, conducting extensive fieldwork, and providing insightful analysis, each step of the IA process is crucial in demonstrating your anthropological aptitude.

Throughout this enriching journey, you will not only deepen your appreciation of the diverse and captivating world we inhabit but also refine your critical thinking and research abilities. Your IA offers an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the field of anthropology while fostering your intellectual growth and development.

As you embark on this thrilling scholarly adventure, remember to remain curious, open-minded, and passionate about the marvels of human societies and cultures. Embrace the challenges and successes that accompany this academic pursuit, and trust in your capacity to produce an exceptional IA.

We extend our best wishes and hope that you find the IA process as rewarding and inspiring as the discipline of anthropology itself. Here’s to your success, and happy researching!

Nick Radlinsky

Nick Radlinsky

Nick Radlinsky is a passionate educator, marketer, and management expert with over 15 years of experience in the education sector. After graduating from business school in 2016, Nick embarked on a journey to earn his PhD, fueled by his dedication to making education better for students everywhere. His extensive experience, beginning in 2008, has made him a trusted authority in the field.

Nick's groundbreaking article, published in Routledge's "Entrepreneurship in Central and Eastern Europe: Development through Internationalization," showcases his keen insights and commitment to improving the educational landscape. Guided by his motto, "Make education better," Nick's mission is to simplify students' lives and promote efficiency in learning. His innovative ideas and leadership have helped transform countless educational experiences, setting him apart as a true pioneer in his field.

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