This Anthropology MA provides an understanding of the ways in which anthropological approaches and debates inform the study of meanings and concepts in development, its priorities, policies and practice. It attracts students with diverse backgrounds and study/work experiences which makes for a lively and challenging atmosphere.
The degree is designed to provide students with a fairly detailed knowledge of anthropology, development issues, research methods and either an ethnographic region (and/or language) and/or thematic interest in health/gender/food/ media. Advice will be given to match the choice of optional components to the requirements, interests, and qualifications of individual students whose background may be in general social science, regional, language or other studies. While the focus of the degree is on development issues and practice, its disciplinary orientation remains anthropological.
Students explore the contribution of anthropology to contemporary development debates, for example, on donors/aid agencies and NGOs, poverty, migration and development, dominating discourses, human rights, violence and complex emergencies, refugees, gender, social capital and community action, health, climate change, the ‘market’ (as a core metaphor of globalised development), whether there are alternatives to the market, the role of business in development (corporate social responsibility and markets for the poor) and the importance of ethical, professional conduct by anthropologists. Anthropological studies provide the basis for understanding issues of state and governance in development, as well as the meaning of community development, and of popular ‘participation’ and ‘empowerment’. Throughout the programme, the role of, and opportunities for anthropologists as professionals in development is discussed, in part through a dedicated series of seminars in term 2.
Note: (1) Students registered in other departments who wish to take this course MUST write to the Director of Study for this course for permission to take it.
The programme consists of four elements: three assessed course units and a dissertation of 10,000 words.
The degree’s core course – ‘Anthropology of Development’ – provides an up-to-date and in-depth understanding of anthropological perspectives on policy and practice in contemporary international development, and gives a theoretical overview of the relationship between development and anthropology. The course examines the politics of aid, shifting aid frameworks, and concrete intervention programmes, bridging the disparate worlds of planners and beneficiaries. This involves close reading of anthropological monographs/studies which examine the nature of policy-making, bureaucracy and programmes in a variety of sectors – health, agriculture, water and others – while always paying close attention to the specific cultural contexts of intervention. Students should note that the course is continuously assessed which each term students are expected to write 1 book review, 1 essay and sit a 50 minute examination. This form of assessment has been found to be much fairer to overseas students whose first language is not English. While continuous assessment requires students to organize their studies efficiently from the very beginning of the year, we have found that a much higher proportion of our students graduate having achieved a distinction.
Note (2). Students registered in other departments at SOAS, notably in Development Studies, must apply in writing/email to the Director of Studies for permission to take this course as part of their degree.
Overview The programme consists of four units in total: three units of examined taught courses and a one unit dissertation of 10,000 words.
Core Courses: - Anthropology of Development - 15PANC090 (1.0 unit).
- Dissertation in Anthropology and Sociology - 15PANC999 (1.0 unit). This is a 10,000 word dissertation on a topic agreed with the Programme Convenor of the MA Social Anthropology of Development and the candidate’s supervisor.
- Additionally all MA Anthropology students 'audit' the course Ethnographic Research Methods during term 1 - this will not count towards your 4 units.
Foundation Course: - Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology - 15PANC008 (1.0 unit). This is compulsory only for students without a previous anthropology degree.
Option Courses: - The remaining unit(s) of your programme can be selected from the Option Courses list below.
- A total of either 1 unit of option courses (if taking Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology) or 2 units (if exempted from Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology), may be selected.
- Your 1 or 2 total units may be made up of any combination of 0.5 or 1 unit option courses.
- However, courses without a "15PANxxxx" course code are taught outside of the Anthropology Department. No more than 1 unit in total of these courses may be selected.
- Alternatively, one language course may be taken from the Faculty of Languages and Cultures.
A postgraduate degree in the Social Anthropology of Development at SOAS develops students’ understanding of the world, other peoples’ ways of life and how society is organised with a particular focus on how anthropological approaches and debates inform the study of meanings and concepts in development, its priorities, policies and practice. Over the years the SOAS department has trained numerous leading anthropologists who have gone on to occupy lectureships and professorships throughout the world. Equally, students gain skills during their degree that transfer well to areas such as information and technology, government service, the media and tourism.
Postgraduate students leave SOAS with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek, including analytical and critical skills; ability to gather, assess and interpret data; high level of cultural awareness; and problem-solving. A postgraduate degree is a valuable experience that provides students with a body of work and a diverse range of skills that they can use to market themselves with when they graduate.