Anthropology prides itself on its inclusive and interdisciplinary focus. It takes a holistic approach to human society, combining biological and social perspectives.
All of our Anthropology Master’s programmes are recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as having research training status, so successful completion of these courses is sufficient preparation for research in the various fields of social anthropology. Many of our students go on to do PhD research. Others use their Master’s qualification in employment ranging from research in government departments to teaching to consultancy work overseas.
We welcome students with the appropriate background for research. If you wish to study for a single year, you can do the MA or MSc by research, a 12-month independent research project.
If you are interested in registering for a research degree, you should contact the member of staff whose research is the most relevant to your interests. You should include a curriculum vitae, a short (1,000-word) research proposal, and a list of potential funding sources.
About the School of Anthropology and Conservation
Kent has pioneered the social anthropological study of Europe, Latin America, Melanesia, and Central and Southeast Asia, the use of computers in anthropological research, and environmental anthropology in its widest sense (including ethnobiology and ethnobotany).
Our regional expertise covers Europe, the Middle East, Central, Southeast and Southern Asia, Central and South America, Amazonia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Polynesia. Specialisation in biological anthropology includes forensics and paleopathology, osteology, evolutionary psychology and the evolutionary ecology and behaviour of great apes.
The first year may include coursework, especially methods modules for students who need this additional training. You will work closely with one supervisor throughout your research, although you have a committee of three (including your primary supervisor) overseeing your progress. If you want to research in the area of applied computing in social anthropology, you would also have a supervisor based in the School of Computing.
- Social Anthropology
The related themes of ethnicity, nationalism, identity, conflict, and the economics crisis form a major focus of our current work in the Middle East, the Balkans, South Asia, Amazonia and Central America, Europe (including the United Kingdom), Oceania and South-East Asia.
Our research extends to inter-communal violence, mental health, diasporas, pilgrimage, intercommunal trade, urban ethnogenesis, indigenous representation and the study of contemporary religions and their global connections.
We research issues in fieldwork and methodology more generally, with a strong and expanding interest in the field of visual anthropology. Our work on identity and locality links with growing strengths in customary law, kinship and parenthood. This is complemented by work on the language of relatedness, child health and on the cognitive bases of kinship terminologies.
A final strand of our research focuses on policy and advocacy issues and examines the connections between morality and law, legitimacy and corruption, public health policy and local healing strategies, legal pluralism and property rights, and the regulation of marine resources.
- Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology
Work in these areas is focused on the Centre for Biocultural Diversity. We conduct research on ethnobiological knowledge systems and other systems of environmental knowledge as well as local responses to deforestation, climate change, natural resource management, medical ethnobotany, the impacts of mobility and displacement and the interface between conservation and development. Current projects include trade in materia medica in Ladakh and Bolivia, food systems, ethno-ornithology, the development of buffer zones for protected areas and phytopharmacy among migrant diasporas.
- Digital Anthropology: Cultural Informatics, Social Invention and Computational Methods
Since 1985, we have been exploring and applying new approaches to research problems in anthropology – often, as in the case of hypermedia, electronic and internet publishing, digital media, expert systems and large-scale textual and historical databases, up to a decade before other anthropologists. Today, we are exploring cloud media, semantic networks, multi-agent modelling, dual/blended realities, data mining, smart environments and how these are mediated by people into new possibilities and capabilities.
Our major developments have included advances in kinship theory and analysis supported by new computational methods within field-based studies and as applied to detailed historical records; qualitative analysis of textual and ethnographic materials; and computer-assisted approaches to visual ethnography. We are extending our range to quantitative approaches for assessing qualitative materials, analysing social and cultural invention, the active representation of meaning, and the applications and implications of mobile computing, sensing and communications platforms and the transformation of virtual into concrete objects, institutions and structures.
- Biological Anthropology
Biological Anthropology is the newest of the University of Kent Anthropology research disciplines. We are interested in a diverse range of research topics within biological and evolutionary anthropology. These include bioarchaeology, human reproductive strategies, hominin evolution, primate behaviour and ecology, modern human variation, cultural evolution and Palaeolithic archaeology. This work takes us to many different regions of the world (Asia, Africa, Europe, the United States), and involves collaboration with international colleagues from a number of organisations. We have a dedicated research laboratory and up-to-date computing facilities to allow research in many areas of biological anthropology.
Currently, work is being undertaken in a number of these areas, and research links have been forged with colleagues at Kent in archaeology and biosciences, as well as with those at the Powell- Cotton Museum, the Budongo Forest Project (Uganda) and University College London.
Kent Osteological Research and Analysis (KORA) offers a variety of osteological services for human remains from archaeological contexts.
Higher degrees in anthropology create opportunities in many employment sectors including academia, the civil service and non-governmental organisations through work in areas such as human rights, journalism, documentary film making, environmental conservation and international finance. An anthropology degree also develops interpersonal and intercultural skills, which make our graduates highly desirable in any profession that involves working with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
Many of our students go on to do PhD research. Others use their Master’s qualification in employment ranging from research in government departments to teaching to consultancy work overseas.