The MA is for people with a personal passion for material culture, materials innovations, crafts, designs, heritage, and the cultural issues which they present. Some are social scientists rethinking the engagement of anthropology, ethnography and material culture; others are designers or makers exploring cultural and social issues.
Students will study anthropological and material culture theory, apply social science and ethnographic methodologies to the problems of design, explore the technical, aesthetic and symbolic properties of materials, and examine how these interact with production technologies and consumption choices. They will develop understanding of how working with materials, crafts, and design helps us to rethink, understand, and critique socio-cultural issues in ways beyond other disciplines, and in cutting-edge anthropological ways.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of one core module (45 credits), three optional modules (45 credits), a departmental seminar series and a research dissertation (90 credits).
All MA students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 15,000 words.
Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, and tutorials. Several courses entail practical instruction, including visits to product design companies and trade fairs; archaeological field sites; Kew Botanical Archive and the British Museum. Assessment is through unseen examination, long essays, research methodology project and the dissertation.
Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Materials, Anthropology and Design MA
The unique combination of scientific and social science training offers students career pathways in a range of areas including:
In addition to analytic and ethnographic skills honed by the core academic training, graduates develop a solid grounding in materials and design literacy, communication and interpersonal skills, new ways of thinking about culture and society and presentational and studio groupwork skills.
Our graduates are equipped to collaboratively engage with different materials and design approaches for working alongside, and in conjunction with, designers, engineers, heritage professionals, environmentalists, materials scientists, and others with a pragmatic interest in materials and design.
UCL is a world leader in anthropological work, specialising in material culture, and also a pan-disciplinary leader in materials innovation and making. This MSc is the only specific design anthropology programme with a material culture emphasis, and the only one dedicated to seriously exploring materials and making in cultural terms.
The programme involves interdisciplinary engagements in: looking at materials expertise across London through visits to makespaces and materials libraries; a project for an external design client (in commerce, heritage, or the third sector); weekly high-profile academic speakers on material culture; and optional vocational seminars in the Spring Term. In some years we facilitate participation in conferences or workshops abroad.
UCL is located in central London, within walking distance to the British Museum and the British Library. UCL's own museums and collections form a resource of international importance for academic research.
The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.
The following REF score was awarded to the department: Anthropology
68% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)
Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.
The MRes RCA Communication Design Pathway will introduce students to practice-led interdisciplinary and experimental research processes, methods and methodologies that inform and underpin communication design research. It will also help to position a student’s research proposal within a social, historical, cultural and theoretical discourse through evidencing primary research, proven research methods including visualisation, and engaging critically with reflective practice and evaluation.
The focus of the Pathway is to explore the nexus between social science, art and design methods – such as those found within social semiotics, discourse analysis, visual ethnography, multi-modal analysis, narrative analysis and storytelling, reception theory – and the ways in which they might be applied to independent research proposals, R&D consultancy or ‘live’ project briefs. Communication theory is at the core of this offer, engaging critically with different perspectives and sensory (e.g. visual, aural and haptic) forms.
Students enrolled on the MRes RCA Communication Design Pathway will join a vibrant and dynamic research community situated within the context of a burgeoning research and knowledge exchange (RKE) culture in the School of Communication. Our RKE in the School is focused on broad thematic areas of the transformation of publishing, the shaping of experience, and the construction of identities. Linked to these are internationally renowned innovation research labs and hubs, such as the Creative Exchange Hub and the Book Futures Lab, which also build on the School’s robust industry networks. In addition to drawing upon the School’s core Master’s programmes in Animation, Information Experience Design and Visual Communication, students will engage with the broader context of the RCA’s leading research and will be exposed to the range of cutting edge art and design research undertaken by our staff and MPhil/PhD students.
During this course we introduce you to social research methods and strategies, and the supporting theories and philosophies. You can also develop areas of specialist interests and integrate these into your methodological training. On a number of the modules, you meet and discuss research issues with students from our other MRes courses and doctoral level researchers.
This course is for you if you have a first degree in any discipline within social sciences and plan to
If you are already working in the field, you and your current employer may see this course as a professional development opportunity, giving you the skills to further your career and current practice.
Our staff are currently involved in research areas including
You study a range of research methodologies throughout the course including • interview-based narrative and biographical research • case study and ethnography • media analysis • surveying and sampling • statistical analysis of large data sets. You critique current developments in research methodology then design and conduct your own pieces of original research.
The MRes includes a research-based dissertation, which may become a pilot study towards a PhD. Several recent MRes students have gone onto doctoral level study, in fields such as education and inequality, and activism and sport.
For an informal discussion about this course, please contact Dr Bob Jeffery by e-mail at [email protected]
This course is hosted by the Faculty of Development and Society Graduate School. The Graduate School website provides a communication hub for students and staff engaged in research, information about our research work, and useful contact information.
You can take individual modules as short courses or combine them towards a PgDip/PgCert Research Methods in Sociology, Planning and Policy.
You need 180 credits for the MRes
You choose up to 120 credits from the following modules:
You may choose to substitute 30 credits from another course within our MRes programme.
To gain the MRes you must present a 60-credit research-based dissertation in an area of your choice. This piece of work is supervised by our staff and gives you the opportunity to demonstrate the skills you have learned and your understanding of the research process and philosophies.
This course gives you the skills needed to carry out independent research. You learn to consider the research problems and associated ethical issues, select a suitable approach, and design and conduct your study. The skills and knowledge you gain are in great demand by many organisations. The Economic and Social Research Council have noted that there is a significant lack of the high-level skills in statistical analysis provided by this course.
Our previous graduates have begun various careers including
Others have moved into PhD research.