The degree is suitable for students with an interest in anthropological approaches to diverse aspects of tourism as a cultural force in the contemporary world, from sustainable development to cultural heritage. Our students come from all over the world, following BA study, a masters degree in another field, or work and travel experience. This combination of diverse backgrounds and skills creates a uniquely stimulating intellectual environment. Many of our graduates go on to a PhD; others pursue careers in research and consulting; NGOs; museums and other cultural institutions; travel-writing; alternative tourism enterprises; and government agencies.
The SOAS MA Anthropology of Travel and Tourism enables students to pursue specialist interests in global voluntary mobility while gaining advanced training in social and cultural anthropology in a world-leading department. Combining a rigorous set of core courses with options to suit each student’s unique interests, the programme is designed to accommodate students with or without a prior degree in Social Anthropology.
Students will develop expertise in anthropological theory and practice; learn to undertake ethnographic research; and gain comprehensive grounding in the anthropological study of travel and tourism, including issues of development, political economy, cultural change, heritage, cross-cultural encounter, representation and meaning, space and place, commodification, and interconnections between diverse histories and cultures of travel worldwide.
Tourism is not only a culturally and historically shaped form of travel, but a complex social field that spans the globe, comprised of diverse actors, institutions, activities, and modes of interaction that overlap with and cross-cross other forms of global interconnection. As a whole, it comprises the world's largest industry and the single greatest peacetime factor moving people around the globe.
Both a manifestation and a medium of globalisation, tourism has profound significance in multiple realms of human life—economic, environmental, material, social, and cultural. This makes it an ideal lens through which to explore core themes in contemporary social anthropology, such as identity and alterity, political economy, development, heritage, locality, representation, imagination, commodification, and the global circulation of people, objects, ideas, images, and capital.
The MA programme draws upon:
- the emerging body of theoretically sophisticated, ethnographically rich work involving tourism and travel;
- a thorough grounding in the history and contemporary theoretical trends of social-cultural anthropology;
- close engagement with noted and rising scholars in the field, via the programme's Colloquium Series in the Anthropology of Tourism and Travel, as well as opportunities for informal dialogue with visiting anthropologists and sociologists of tourism;
- other areas of expertise in the Department of Anthropology, including anthropology of development, migration and diaspora, museums and material culture, anthropology of food, global religious movements, anthropology of media, human rights, and anthropology of globalisation;
- the unparalleled concentration of area expertise among SOAS' academic staff, covering Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, together with their diasporas;
- the opportunity to engage with numerous other units at SOAS, such as the Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies, the Food Studies Centre, and the Centre for Media Studies, among many others; and
- the vibrant intellectual and cultural life of the School, the University of London, and the city of London itself—a global tourist destination inviting study on a daily basis.
Prospective students are encouraged to contact the Director of Studies, Dr Naomi Leite, at an early stage of their application in order to seek advice on the most appropriate options for study.
Beginning in 2016-27, the MA programme will also be available as a 2- or 4-year (full- or part-time) MA Anthropology of Travel and Tourism with Intensive Study of Arabic, Japanese, or Korean (other languages likely to be added). For information, contact Director of Studies Dr Naomi Leite.
All SOAS MA students, regardless of department or degree, are entitled to register for one language course for free through our Language Entitlement Programme (LEP). This course is additional to your regular syllabus and is not for credit. Languages normally available include Arabic, Chinese, French, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu. Others are often offered. You must sign up before instruction begins and space fills quickly. Learn more and reserve your place here: Language Entitlement Programme (http://www.soas.ac.uk/languagecultures/studentinfo/language-entitlement-programme/)
The SOAS MA in the Anthropology of Travel and Tourism is designed to offer students a chance to pursue specialist interests via a considered selection of courses to suit their individual needs. It provides:
1. a broad-based MA programme for students with some background in issues of tourism/travel who wish to enhance their knowledge in light of contemporary anthropological research.
2. a special-interest MA which will enable students to study topics involving tourism/travel in-depth, in relation to a specific theoretical approach or region.
The programme consists of four units, comprised of a combination of full-year (1 unit) and half-year (.5 unit) courses.
Teaching & Learning
The learning environments making up the MA programme in Anthropology of Travel and Tourism run the gamut from lecture halls to intimate seminar rooms, suiting a wide range of learning styles. Study a language; take a course (or two) in anthropology of human rights, development, globalisation, religion, or gender, among many others; choose a course in another department that catches your interest and contributes to your dissertation plans, from world music to development studies.
The academic staff in the Department of Anthropology are dynamic, experienced teachers who are widely recognised for their expertise and enjoy working directly with students. Renowned scholars from other institutions also come to share their knowledge: nearly every day of the week, the SOAS Anthropology Department has a public lecture series running, including series in the general Social Anthropology, Anthropology of Food, Migration and Diaspora Studies, and, of course, Anthropology of Tourism and Travel.
In addition to these formal settings for learning, our students also learn from one another. Hailing from around the globe and bringing diverse life experiences to bear on their studies, all MA students in the Department of Anthropology can take courses together, making it a rich environment for intellectual exchange. Students also benefit from campus-wide programmes, clubs, study groups, and performances.
Many students in the MA Anthropology of Travel and Tourism opt for hands-on learning via the half-unit Directed Practical Study in Anthropology of Tourism course, with placements in leading UK-based NGOs like Equality in Tourism and Tourism Concern, among others, as well as in private tour operator firms, providing background material for future research.
While students in the MA Anthropology of Travel and Tourism may take a language course for credit, all SOAS MA students, regardless of department or degree, are also entitled to register for non-credit free courses in a single language through the Language Entitlement Programme (LEP). Languages normally available include Arabic, Chinese, French, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu. Others may also be offered.