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Course content

MRes programmes

You can enter these programmes either with an undergraduate degree in Social Anthropology, or with no previous anthropological experience but the desire to convert your academic focus into anthropology. The MRes aims to provide a firm foundation in the methods and methodologies of social anthropology and the human sciences, to serve as a basis for knowledgeable and skilled research in Social Anthropology. You are taught in dedicated postgraduate classes throughout.

MRes in Social Anthropology

• A general introduction to Social Anthropology at postgraduate level.
• Combines opportunities for theoretical development and specialist interests, with training in research methodologies.
• Conversion options within the degree structure if you are entering Social Anthropology as a new subject.
• Preparation for the possibilities of doctoral research, and more specifically, for fieldwork-based anthropological projects.
• Introduces cross-disciplinary connections and differences


* Social Anthropology was established in 1979, and is now a constituent department in the University’s School of Philosophical, Anthropological & Film Studies with a staff of 14.
* Teaching at all levels is informed by the research interests and accomplishments of lecturing staff.

Postgraduate community

Many students are from abroad and are undertaking a varied range of taught courses and research programmes. Those returning from, or preparing to go into, the field form an active community with a wide range of diverse geographical and substantive interests.

You will participate in annual workshops organised by the Department, jointly with the Anthropology departments of the universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow under the Scottish Training in Anthropological Research (STAR) programme. These workshops provide opportunities for informal presentations of research proposals, discussions relevant to your fieldwork preparations (e.g. ethics, data collection, writing field notes). The exploration of creative ways of learning is held in a relaxed yet focused environment, together with members of staff and PhD students from each of the universities. The training workshops last for
four days and take place in a beautiful countryside location. They act as complementary elements of the postgraduate training programme, and are organised in consultation with postgraduate students themselves, according to their perceived needs and wishes. In addition, there are shorter workshops which take place throughout the year and are designed to develop theoretical perspectives in anthropological research.


The Department of Social Anthropology occupies an extensive suite of offices on North Street and in St Salvator’s Quad. It is well situated in the centre of town and at the geographical heart of the University. The Centre for Amerindian Studies has its own set of rooms within the Department, including a reading room that holds a library for Latin American and Amerindian studies. Within Social Anthropology there is also a museum collection of ethnographic objects, and a common room that includes a general anthropological class library, providing a space that is shared by both staff and postgraduates. The Departmental libraries, along with the main library, which holds a fine anthropology collection, include materials from all ethnographic regions of the world.

Weekly research seminars are organised by both the Department and sometimes by the Centres, and include speakers from outside St Andrews and abroad, thus enriching the intellectual environment. Social anthropologists from other UK departments, and beyond, visit and contribute to our series of seminars, and to workshops and conferences arranged by staff members and by research students. We endeavour to create a warm and friendly atmosphere and this also contributes towards maintaining a high quality of teaching and intellectual exchange.

Teaching methods

Taught postgraduate programmes in Social Anthropology are small class format modules, in which formal lectures are combined with seminar style teaching and student-led group work. Every taught postgraduate student is assigned an individual supervisor from among the anthropology staff, who works with them closely to develop a topic and direction for the end of degree dissertation.

International conferences

An important element in fostering the Department’s reputation has been a series of international conferences, each of which has considered an important contemporary theoretical issue within the discipline. These have dealt with, for example, the Anthropology of Violence; Power and Knowledge; Localising Strategies; the Concept of the Market; the Problem of Context; Kingship; the Anthropology of Love and Anger; Ways of Knowing; an Epistemology of Anthropology. The Ladislav Holy Memorial Trust plays an important supportive role for many of these conferences. From time to time distinguished scholars are appointed to the St Andrews Visiting Professorship in Social Anthropology, and each year members of the international academic community join the Department to follow postdoctoral work and other research endeavours. Such visiting scholars greatly enhance the thriving research environment.


Social Anthropology graduates have characteristics many employers seek and a Social Anthropology degree provides openings to a wide range of careers.
• Private organisations: can use the skills of social anthropologists doing research for urban planning, working with health organisations, doing market research for advertising companies, training employees who will be working in international divisions, or working within human resource departments.

• Government agencies: can employ social anthropologists as policy researchers, research analysts, evaluators, managers, planners and policy makers.

• International organisations: can employ anthropologists in projects in various countries around the world as researchers and cultural brokers.

• Non-profit agencies: can employ social anthropologists as advocates, administrators, evaluators and researchers.

• Graduate employers: 70% of graduate jobs are for students from any discipline. Social anthropologists successfully move into teaching, law, finance, HR, marketing, PR etc.

Well known St Andrews Social Anthropology graduates:
• Saba Douglas-Hamilton – wildlife conservationist & BBC presenter
• Nicolas Argenti – anthropologist
• Alexander Schulenburg – historian, independent scholar and activist for the British overseas territory of St Helena
• Nicholas Barker – journalist: winner of The Independent Young Journalist of the Year.

Visit the Social Anthropology (MRes) page on the University of St Andrews website for more details!





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