Over the last ten years, global aspirations to reduce the suffering of the "bottom billion" have led to unprecedented attention on international development. International agencies, governments and NGOs are working more intensely than ever before to deliver appropriate policies and interventions.
Anthropology has played a key role in the emergence of new perspectives on humanitarian assistance and the livelihoods of populations caught up in extreme circumstances such as famines, natural disasters and wars.
On the one hand, this has led to a radical re-thinking of what has been happening, but on the other hand, it has led to anthropologists sometimes playing controversial roles in agendas associated with the "war on terror".
This course examines these contemporary issues and debates, and explores their implications. It also sets them in the context of anthropology as a discipline.
The course will appeal to graduates from a variety of backgrounds, including: anthropology, sociology, economics, politics, geography, law and development studies. It is suited for those interested in critically assessing the policies and practices of international development and humanitarian assistance to war-affected regions from an anthropological perspective.
It will provide the necessary training to enable students to seek employment with NGOs (such as Oxfam and Save the Children Fund), international agencies (such as the World Health Organisation and the World Food Programme) and the civil service (such as the UK Department for International Development).
It will also provide a useful stepping stone for those seeking to undertake doctoral research in international development.
Anthropology at Brunel is well-known for its focus on ethnographic fieldwork: as well as undertaking rigorous intellectual training, all our students are expected to get out of the library and undertake their own, original research – whether in the UK or overseas – and to present their findings in a dissertation. Students take this opportunity to travel to a wide variety of locations across the world – see “Special Features” for more details.
Attendance for lectures full-time: 2 days per week - for 24 weeks Attendance for lectures part-time: 1 day per week - for 24 weeks (in each of 2 years)
You will discover how the apparent insights and skills of anthropologists have a long history associated with ethnographic work on economics, education, health, deprivation and conceptions of suffering dating back to the origins of the discipline.
The MSc consists of both compulsory and optional modules, a typical selection can be found below. Modules can vary from year to year, but these offer a good idea of what we teach.
Compulsory Reading Module: Political and Economic Issues in Anthropology Compulsory Reading Module: Contemporary Anthropological Theory Ethnographic Research Methods 1 Ethnographic Research Methods 2 Anthropology of International Development Dissertation in Anthropology of International Development and Humanitarian Assistance Anthropological Perspectives of Humanitarian Assistance Anthropological Perspectives of War
Dept. of Social Sciences, Media and Communications (Anthropology) The Anthropology of Childhood The Anthropology of Youth The Anthropology of Global Health Applied Medical Anthropology in the arena of Global Health Anthropology of Education Anthropology of Learning Ethnicity, Identity and Culture Medical Anthropology in Clinical and Community Settings Dept of Politics, History and Law Globalisation Dept of Clinical Sciences Global Agendas on Young People, Rights and Participation Young Lives in the Global South International Development, Children and Youth Brunel Law School Minority and Indigenous Rights The United Nations Human Rights Regime Theory and Practice of Human Rights The Migrant, the State and the Law Brunel Business School International Business Ethics and Corporate Governance
Compulsory Reading Module: Political and Economic Issues in Anthropology Anthropology of International Development Compulsory Reading Module: Contemporary Anthropological Theory
Ethnographic Research Methods 1 Ethnographic Research Methods 2 Dissertation in Anthropology of International Development and Humanitarian Assistance Anthropological Perspectives of Humanitarian Assistance Anthropological Perspectives of War
While its approach is anthropological, this degree offers genuine multi-disciplinary possibilities by drawing on modules from Politics, Health Sciences, Law and Business.
Students will have the opportunity to explore the multiplicity of issues arising from critical shifts in global policy across the following key themes:
The ways in which economic anthropologists have enhanced our understandings of livelihoods in ways that are dramatically different to dominant approaches in economics. The hazards and limitations of relying solely upon biomedical interventions to alleviate suffering and sickness. The ostensibly positive relationship between education and development, and the role of education as a vehicle for eradicating illiteracy and lowering fertility and mortality rates.
An exploration of such themes together will make it possible for students to think and engage in new and critical ways about the relationship between anthropology and development.
All our degrees (whether full- or part-time) combine intensive coursework, rigorous training in ethnographic research methods, and a period of fieldwork in the summer term (final summer term if part-time) leading to a 15,000 word dissertation.
Students are free to choose their own research topic and geographic area, in consultation with their academic supervisor. In all cases, the dissertation research project provides valuable experience and in many cases it leads to job contacts – forming a bridge to a future career or time out for career development.
In recent years, students have undertaken fieldwork in locations across the world, including India, Mexico, Bolivia, Papua New Guinea, China, Nepal, Peru, Morocco, and New Zealand as well as within the UK and the rest of Europe.
Teaching and Assessment
You will be taught via a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials and film.
Assessment is variously by essay and practical assignment (e.g. analysis of a short field exercise). A final dissertation of approximately 15,000 words based on fieldwork in the UK or abroad, is also required. There are no examinations.