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Kent-anthropology is renown for its dynamic post-graduate community and its contribution to emerging and established anthropological fields. Our regional expertise and breadth of thematic interests enables us to offer supervision across a wide range of topics within the fields socio-cultural, biological, and visual anthropology.

The PhD is a three-year full-time and five-year part-time programme. You research and write a thesis of a maximum of 100,000 words under the supervision of an academic team. Students participate in the vibrant seminar-culture of the School and have opportunities to meet and interact with researchers who lead major anthropological fields.

The first year includes training in research methodology and, in the case of socio-cultural anthropology, in the art of writing ethnography. The remaining years involve field or library research and writing up. In general, you work closely with two supervisors throughout your research, although you have a committee of three (including your primary supervisor) overseeing your progress.

About the School of Anthropology and Conservation

In anthropology we pride ourselves on having a close-knit group of research students who know and can approach any member of staff for help and assistance. We have a varied programme of seminars and symposia for students and staff, given by members of the School and visitors.

There is a special seminar run for research students in which advanced training is provided and students practise presentations and also present chapters of their draft thesis. There are also special training courses for research students run by the Graduate School, Information Services and the Unit for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (UELT).

Research areas

  • Social Anthropology

The regional expertise of our staff has a global reach, with field sites in Europe (including UK), the Middle East, the Balkans, South Asia, Amazonia and Central America, Oceania and Southeast Asia. Themes of conflict, violence, the economic crisis and precarity form a major focus of our current work in these areas, alongside new research on austerity and its social impact, and charity. We have emerging interests in social inequality, work, and organised crime and corruption; and are internationally recognised for our work on ethnicity, nationalism, and identity.

Our research extends to intercommunal violence, diasporas, pilgrimage, intercommunal trade, urban ethnogenesis, indigenous representation and the study of contemporary religions and their global connections (especially Islam). History and heritage is another key theme, with related interests in time and temporality, and the School hosts the leading journal History and Anthropology.

We research issues in fieldwork and methodology more generally, with a strong interest in the field of visual anthropology. Our work on identity and locality links with growing strengths in kinship and parenthood. A final focus concerns science, medical anthropology and contemporary society. We work on the anthropology of business, biotechnology, and mental health.

  • Digital Anthropology: Cultural Informatics, Social Invention and Computational Methods

Since 1985, we have pioneered new approaches to digital anthropology. Achievements include advances in kinship theory supported by new computational methods. We are exploring cloud media, semantic networks, multi-agent modelling, dual/blended realities, data mining, and smart environments. Current work also addresses quantitative approaches for assessing qualitative materials; mobile computing; sensing and communications platforms, and transformation of virtual into concrete objects.

  • Biological Anthropology

Our research encompasses a broad range of topics within biological and evolutionary anthropology, including bioarchaeology, forensic anthropology, archaeological science, human reproductive strategies, hominin evolution, primate behaviour and ecology, modern human variation, and cultural. We have three dedicated research laboratories, as well as a commercial osteology unit. 

Our research takes us to many regions of the world (Asia, Africa, Europe, South America and United States). We collaborate with international research organisations, including the Instituto de Biología Subtropical (Argentina), German Primate Center, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, and Budongo Conservation Field Station (Uganda). Members of staff provide a wide research network offering research opportunities in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America.

  • Skeletal Biology

Our Skeletal Biology Research Centre is the only UK Centre focusing on analysis of biological hard tissues (bones and teeth). It brings together innovative research, novel methodologies and international collaborations, with expertise and resources from Physical Sciences and Biosciences at Kent, and the Powell-Cotton Museum. Research ranges from analyses of the most important human fossils, histological studies of teeth and bone, isotopic analyses and dietary reconstruction, virtual 3D analyses of the skeleton, and forensic identification that together ultimately aim to better understand humans and our evolutionary history.

  • Primatology

The Living Primates Research Group fosters research into the behaviour and ecology of primates. It addresses questions concerning adaptation using living primates as model species, to provide a comparative framework for the understanding of human biology and behaviour, and investigate the biological and social dimensions of anthropogenic impacts on non-human primates (NHPs). Research ranges from functional morphology to behavioural ecology and physiology, cultural primatology, and the interplay of primate biology, ecology and conservation, including primate rehabilitation and reintroduction and human-NHP coexistence.

Careers

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 and biological anthropology. Many of our students go on to do PhD research. Others use their postgraduate qualification in employment that includes international organisations, NGOs, government departments and consultancy work overseas.

The School has a very good record for postgraduate employment and academic continuation. Studying anthropology, you develop an understanding of the complexity of all actions, beliefs and discourse by acquiring strong methodological and analytical skills. Anthropologists are increasingly being hired by companies and organisations that recognise the value of employing people who understand the complexities of societies and organisations.

Many of our alumni teach in academic positions in universities across the world, whilst others work for a wide range of organisations. 


Visit the Anthropology - PhD, MA page on the University of Kent website for more details!

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