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Research Methods (Anthropology) (MA)

Course Description

This Economic and Social Research Council approved MA provides training in research methods with a focus on methods used by researchers in anthropology. At the end of this course you will have the skills to go on to do research in Anthropology or a related discipline. Most students expect to move on to a PhD. The course includes training in qualitative and quantitative methods needed by researchers in social sciences, and draws on expertise within the Department of Anthropology to provide specialised training in sociocultural anthropology, medical anthropology, the anthropology of development or cultural evolution. It is affiliated to the North East Doctoral Training Centre, which offers funding to British and European Union students interested in taking the course preparatory to moving on to a PhD at Durham.

The full-time course runs for a full year, from October to September. Students attend classes between October and December (Michaelmas Term) and January and March (Epiphany), with assessment in April and May (Easter Term), and then work, under the supervision of a specialist supervisor, to complete a dissertation in September. This is often a pilot project for a PhD project.

Students take core modules on qualitative and quantitative methods. Further modules are chosen from within each specialist pathway, as outlined below.

Each module we offer has a credit value. To obtain a Master’s degree you must register for and pass modules to the value of 180 credits. In recognition of the emphasis we place on independent research skills, the dissertation is a 60 credit module.

Compulsory modules

-Perspectives on Social Research
-Fieldwork and Interpretation
-Applied Statistics or
-Statistical Exploration and Reasoning and
-Quantitative Research Methods in Social Science.

Previous pathway modules

Modules to the value of 60 credits, must come from only one pathway. Modules marked * are compulsory for that pathway.

Sociocultural Pathway:
-Thinking Anthropologically*
-Interrogating Ethnography*
-Art in Ecological Perspective
-Religion, Contention and Public Controversy
-Anthropology and Development
-Body, Politics and Experience

Development Anthropology Pathway
-Society, Energy, Environment and Resilience*
-Thinking Anthropologically*
-Anthropology and Development*
-Anthropology of Global Health
-Body, Politics and Experience
-Interrogating Ethnography

Medical Anthropology Pathway
-Evolutionary Perspectives on Western Diseases
-Public Health Anthropology
-Thinking Anthropologically
-Anthropology of Global Health
-Body, Politics and Experience

Cultural Evolution Pathway
-Evolutionary Theory*
-Cultural Evolution*
-Evolutionary Perspectives on Western Diseases
-Key Issues in Sociocultural Theory
-Primate Behaviour
-Evolutionary Psychology
-Palaeoanthropology and Palaeoecology

Learning and Teaching

The programme is delivered through a mixture of interactive lectures, seminars, student-led seminars, practical sessions and workshops, in addition to one-to-one dissertation supervision. Typically, lectures deliver key information on progressively more advanced themes and topics. Seminars provide an opportunity to reflect in more depth upon material delivered in lectures and gathered from independent study outside the programme’s formal contact hours. Student-led seminars give students an opportunity to engage with academic issues at the cutting-edge of research in Anthropology, in a learning environment focused on discussion and debate of current issues.

We place an emphasis on independent learning. This is supported by the University’s virtual learning environment, extensive library collections and informal contact with tutors and research staff. We consider the development of independent learning and research skills to be one of the key elements of our postgraduate taught curriculum and one which helps our students cultivate initiative, originality and critical thinking.

Students take required taught modules worth a total of 60 credits, and four optional modules, also totaling 60 credits. Full-time students have on average 8 hours of formal teaching and learning contact per week. Outside timetabled contact hours, students are also expected to devote significant amounts of time to reading, discussing and preparing for classes, assignments and project work. Following the May assessment period, students undertake their 60 credit dissertation. This crucial piece of work is a significant piece of independent research that constitutes a synthesis of theory, method and practice in anthropology and is supported by an individual supervisor and a dissertation leader (13 direct contact hours).

Throughout the programme, all students meet regularly with their degree tutor, who provides academic support and guidance. Furthermore, all members of teaching staff have weekly office hours when they are available to meet with students on a ‘drop-in’ basis. In term time, the department also has an extensive programme of departmental and research group seminars which postgraduate students are encouraged and expected to attend. The undergraduate Anthropology Society also organises its own visiting lecturer programme. We ensure that we advertise any other relevant seminars and lectures in Durham, Newcastle and further afield, and encourage students to attend relevant conferences.

Before the academic year starts, we make provide information on preparation for the course. On arrival we have induction sessions and social events, headed by the Director of Postgraduate Studies and attended by both academic and administrative staff. Students also attend an “Introduction to Research Groups in Anthropology”.

Visit the Research Methods (Anthropology) (MA) page on the Durham University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

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