The general objective of this programme is to communicate an anthropologically-informed understanding of social life in both Western and non-Western societies. By confronting students with the remarkable diversity of human social and cultural experience, its aim is to encourage them to question taken-for-granted assumptions and to view the world from a new perspective.
Through a set of core modules, comprising about a third of coursework credits, students are provided with a comprehensive grounding in classical as well as contemporary debates in social anthropology and are introduced to the distinctive research methods and ethical positions associated with the discipline. Students then complete their coursework credits by choosing from a broad range of around 50 different modules offered around the Faculty of Humanities. Through these options, students apply the social anthropological theories and methods learnt on the core modules to particular substantive themes and topics. Diploma students complete their coursework in May and formally graduate in July. Over the summer vacation, MA students carry out research for a 15,000 word dissertation that is submitted in September. They then would normally expect to graduate formally in December.
Most of the coursework optional modules have been organized into pathways based on particular themes and topics.
Go to the Study Details tab for more details on the Culture, Ethnography and Development pathway.
Pathways are designed to ensure both an academic and timetabling fit between the options. Students are encouraged, on the basis of past experience and/or future goals, to select a pathway shortly after registration in consultation with the programme director. MA students' dissertation topics will normally also relate to this pathway. In addition to the Culture, Ethnography and Development pathway, there are currently 5 others.
Please note that it is not compulsory to select a pathway and all students will be awarded the same generic degree, MA in Social Anthropology.
Teaching and learning
In each semester, students take two 15-credit core modules, and a selection of optional modules that they select shortly after arrival. Many optional modules are worth 15 credits, though some are worth 30 credits. In total, students are required to achieve 120 coursework credits. Over the summer vacation, students are required to write a dissertation which is worth a further 60 credits.
In total, some 50 optional modules are available, not only in Social Anthropology but in a broad range of other disciplines across the Faculty of Humanities, including Visual Anthropology, Archaeology, Museum Studies, Latin American Studies, Development Studies, History, Sociology and Drama. Drawing on this broad range of disciplines, a number of pathways have been devised in order to maximize the academic and timetabling coherence of the options chosen by students.
The Culture, Ethnography & Development pathway provides you with the opportunity to study the history, theory and practice of development in a broad variety of social and geographical contexts, encouraging you to think of development critically as a complex transformative process that has cultural as well as economic and political consequences. You may select from modules covering a broad range of topics, including:
-Relationships of dependence between the global North and the global South
-Social and cultural effects of international labour migration
-The Millennium Development Goals
-The political economy of foreign investment
-Inequality and urban planning in the cities of the global South
-The international agenda for the reduction of poverty
-The impact of local civil society and NGOs
-Social welfare policies
-The politics of biodiversity conservation
Coursework and assessment
Most modules are assessed by means of an extended assessment essay. Typically, for 15 credit modules, these must be of 4000 words, whilst for 30 credit courses, they are normally of 6000 words. Certain options involving practical instruction in research methods, audiovisual media or museum display may also be assessed by means of presentations and/or portfolios of practical work. In addition, all MA students are required to write a 15,000 word dissertation.
Past graduates of the MA in Social Anthropology have gone on to many different careers both inside and outside academic life. As it is a 'conversion' course aimed at those who want to explore anthropology after undergraduate studies in another field, or at least within a different anthropological tradition, it often represents a major change of career direction, opening up a wide range of different possibilities.
About 20% of our graduates carry on to do a doctorate, be it here or elsewhere. But the MA in Social Anthropology also represents a very appropriate preparation for careers in which an informed awareness of the implications of social and cultural diversity are important.
Some past students have been drawn to the voluntary sector, either in the UK or with development agencies overseas, others have gone on to work in the media or cultural industries or in education at many different levels. Others again have found opportunities in business or the civil service, where ethnography-based methods are increasingly popular as a way of finding out how people - from consumers to employees - interact with their everyday worlds.
The MA in Social Anthropology also trains students in a broad range of transferable skills that are useful in many walks of life, including social research methods and the ethics associated with these, effective essay-writing, oral presentational skills in seminars and other contexts, basic computing skills, using the internet as a research tool and conducting bibliographic research.