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Ethnobotany is an increasingly important subject. It is essentially interdisciplinary, involving knowledge of plants and their ecology in the context of their cultural, social and economic significance.

Ethnobotany is the study of the interrelationship between people and plants, particularly the way in which plants impact on human culture and practices, how humans have used and modified plants, and how they represent them in their systems of knowledge. This programme combines anthropological studies of human-environment interaction and sociocultural knowledge of plants in different parts of the world with ecology, conservation science, environmental law and biodiversity management. It also covers plant conservation and sustainable management practices, taxonomy, and economic botany.

The programme is taught collaboratively with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew (a World Heritage Site).

Visit the website https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/189/ethnobotany

Why study with us?

  • One-year Master's programme - excellent preparation for doctoral research and careers in a variety of botanical and environmental fields.
  • First programme of its kind in the world and only graduate course in UK and Europe.
  • Study with the largest research group for Ethnobotany in Europe.
  • More than 25% of our graduates complete PhD programmes, with significant career prospects
  • Integrates field methods with theoretical perspectives; our students are conducting research in almost 40 countries.
  • Partnered with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UCL's School of Pharmacy, and The Eden Project.
  • Field trips to the ancient woodlands of Blean, The National Fruit Collection, Bedgebury Pinetum, Canterbury Catherdral Archives, The Millennium Seed-bank and the Eden Project.

At the University of Kent, the Centre for Biocultural Diversity has pioneered research and teaching in ethnobotany and human ecology; it has been rated excellent for teaching, and its work in anthropological approaches to the environment flagged for excellence in the most recent HEFCE Research Assessment Exercise.

Structure and assessment

The MSc is an intensive 12-month programme. You take eight coursework modules over the first six months and then undertake a project and write a dissertation in the second six months. Please not that modules are subject to change.

Additionally, it is also possible to take modules from the list available for our MA programmes in Anthropology and from our MSc in Conservation Biology as un-assessed options. The modules available may include foundations of natural science for conservation, social science perspectives on conservation, population and evolutionary biology, nature tourism, principles and practice of ecotourism, integrated species conservation and management, trade, economics, regulation and the environment, conservation and community development, and managing protected areas.

The course will be supplemented with practical work, field visits to local sites of ethnobotanical interest, and through guest speakers involved in research in various parts of the world.

Careers

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.

As a School recognised for its excellence in research we are one of the partners in the South East Doctoral Training Centre, which is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). This relationship ensures that successful completion of our 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.

Since 1998 we have trained nearly 150 students through our MSc programme. More than 25% of these have moved on to undertake research degrees in some area of ethnobotany (for example, Kent, Oxford, Sussex, Vienna, Florida, Tulane, British Columbia, McGill), or have taken up positions which utilise their training and knowledge, for example, in NGOs such as the Global Diversity Foundation, at the Harvard Museum of Economic Botany, conservation education, at various Botanical Gardens around the world (for example, Kew, Edinburgh, New York, Auckland, Beirut), at the United Nations Environment Programme, and in the pharmaceutical industry. Some have gone on to work in universities or start their own organisations and businesses.

Study support

The School has a lively postgraduate community drawn together not only by shared resources such as postgraduate rooms, computer facilities (with a dedicated IT officer) and laboratories, but also by student-led events, societies, staff/postgraduate seminars, weekly research student seminars and a number of special lectures.

The School houses well-equipped research laboratories for genetics, ecology, visual anthropology, virtual paleoanthropology, Animal Postcranial Evolution, biological anthropology, anthropological computing, botany, osteology and ethnobiology. The state-of-the-art visual anthropology laboratory is stocked with digital editing programmes and other facilities for digital video and photographic work, and has a photographic darkroom for analogue developing and printing. 

Anthropology at Kent has close links with the nearby Powell-Cotton Museum, which has one of the largest ethnographic collections in the British Isles and is particularly strong in sub-Saharan African and Southeast Asian material. It also houses an extensive comparative collection of primate and other mammalian material. Human skeletal material is housed at the Kent Osteological Research and Analysis Centre within the School.

Postgraduate scholarships and funding

We have a scholarship fund of over £11 million to support our taught and research students with their tuition fees and living costs. Find out more: https://www.kent.ac.uk/scholarships/postgraduate/

Find out how to apply here - https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/apply/


Visit the MSc Ethnobotany page on the University of Kent website for more details!

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