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MA Anthropology of Food

Course Description

Food is a fundamental human necessity, essential to the sustenance of the human body. At the same time, food may be associated with pleasure, passion, even luxury. Food is also essential to the social body. Who eats what, who eats with whom, and whose appetites are satisfied and whose denied, are all profoundly social dynamics through which identities, relationships, and hierarchies are created and reproduced.

The SOAS MA programme in the Anthropology of Food offers students the opportunity to explore historically and culturally variable foodways, from foraging to industrial agriculture, from Europe and North America to Africa, Asia and South America. The programme asks students to trace the passage of food from plant to palate, and to examine who benefits, and who suffers, from contemporary modes of food production, exchange, preparation, and consumption. Students examine food policy at national and international levels, as well as the role played in its formation by the food industry.

Focus is given to the study of famine and the controversial role of food aid in securing food supplies. Debates over the impact of agricultural biotechnology on agrarian livelihoods and knowledge systems, as well as on the natural environment, are assessed. Movements toward organic agriculture, fair trade, and slow food are also analysed.

An anthropological approach to the study of food draws upon and challenges the perspectives of other disciplines, whether agronomy or nutritional science, economics or law, history or literature. Dependent upon individual interests and experiences, graduates of the programme may pursue research degrees in any number of academic disciplines, or find employment in food-related government ministries, international organizations, development agencies, or non-governmental associations, as well as in the fields of public health, education, and media, or in the catering industry.

Click here for a last of past Dissertation Titles (http://www.soas.ac.uk/anthropology/programmes/maanthoffood/ma-anthropology-of-food-dissertation-titles-2006---present.html)

Click here for Alumni Profiles (http://www.soas.ac.uk/foodstudies/studentprofiles/)

Course teachers Johan Pottier, Harry G. West, and Jakob Klein were awarded the 2009 Excellence in Instruction Award by the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society. West was named joint runner-up for the SOAS Director’s Teaching Prize in 2011-2012. The SOAS MA in the Anthropology of Food was named a Finalist in the Best Food Initiative category in the BBC Food & Farming Awards in 2015.

Applicants for the MA Anthropology of Food may be eligible to apply for Scholarships and Bursaries (http://www.soas.ac.uk/registry/scholarships/).

Visit the website http://www.soas.ac.uk/anthropology/programmes/maanthoffood/

Programme Structure Overview

The programme consists of four units in total: three units of examined courses and a one unit dissertation of 10,000 words.

Core Courses:
- The Anthropology of Food - 15PANC013 (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 Anthropology of Food 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, 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 then be selected from the Option Courses list below.

- 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.

Programme Specification 2012/2013 (pdf; 147kb) - http://www.soas.ac.uk/anthropology/programmes/maanthoffood/file39766.pdf


For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website (http://www.soas.ac.uk/careers/graduate-destinations/).

Find out how to apply here - http://www.soas.ac.uk/admissions/pg/howtoapply/

Visit the MA Anthropology of Food page on the SOAS University of London website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Nafsika Papacharalampous

After a few years in the corporate word as a Financial Analyst, I decided I wanted to pursue a career change and follow my passion for food and gastronomy. After investigating various academic programmes, I discovered SOAS’s MA in Anthropology of Food, which offered not only a strong foundation in Anthropology but also a specialisation in Food Anthropology through a core course and many interesting optional courses.

When I first came here I was very surprised on how kind, polite and caring everyone was. From the staff to the students, everyone was very welcoming and enthusiastic. Coming from a corporate world and living in a big city like London, SOAS has been like an oasis in the desert; a very colourful, blissful environment which makes you feel at home.

I loved every aspect of my MA. The teaching was exceptional; our seminars were intellectually stimulating and fascinating. Mostly I enjoyed the optional course Directed Practical Study in the Anthropology of Food, which not only gave me the opportunity to discover possible professional pathways in food writing (my personal area of interest), but also allowed me to gain valuable work experience as a food writer and apply a great deal of the theoretical knowledge I gained from my course in a real and practical way.

Furthermore, I have enjoyed being surrounded by people who share my enthusiasm and passion for food and who surprise me every day with their warmth and love. In this small community of people, for the first time I feel that I have find my place in the world.


Canon Collins Scholarships - No. of awards TBC

These scholarships are for Masters study in any subject field.
The application process normally opens in December and closes in February, for study commencing in September the following year. Please go to the Canon Collins website and click "Apply for A Scholarship" and then "Canon Collins Scholarship for Masters Study in the UK" for further information on how to apply.

Value of Scholarship(s)

See website


Country/Nationality: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Application Procedure

See the website

Further Information



SOAS Master's Scholarships - Faculty of Arts & Humanities - 5 Awards

There are five SOAS Master's scholarships available in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities (Department of Anthropology and Sociology - 1 scholarship, History - 1 scholarship, History of Arts&Archaeology/Music & Media - 2 scholarships, Religions and Philosophies - 1 scholarship). Each scholarship is valued at £16,765 in total. Fees will be deducted from this amount and the remainder will be used toward maintenance. Candidate Assessment
- Candidates will be assessed on academic merit by an Advisory Panel consisting of at least three academic members of the Faculty. - The assessment of your application will be based on the information in your scholarship application. Selectors will be looking at the degree results and also at academic references, statements and other relevant information.Scholarship Application Deadline
- Scholarship applications must be received no later than 17:00 (UK local time) on 24 February 2016.- In order to be considered for this scholarship, you must ALSO submit a complete online application to the degree programme as soon as possible and then submit an application for the scholarship. Applicants applying for scholarships must also submit an application for admission well in advance. Please note that complete applications for admission can take up to 4 weeks to be considered by the Department, although this duration can vary depending on the time of year. You should prepare to wait up to 6 weeks in busy periods. - Late or incomplete applications will not be considered

Value of Scholarship(s)



- Applicants must possess or expect to be awarded a First Class Honours Degree or equivalent. Students with a non-UK degree to be adjudged in the top rank by their referees and transcript.
- This scholarship is open to UK/EU applicants only.
- Applicants must have an offer of admission to pursue one of the eligible full-time masters programmes at SOAS by the scholarship application deadline.
- The scholarship cannot be held along with any other major scholarship or studentship.

Application Procedure

You must apply for this scholarship via this on-line scholarship application form.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Minimum upper second class BA degree (or equivalent) in the humanities, social sciences or natural sciences, or significant experience in a relevant food- and/or agriculture-related career

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Recipient: SOAS University of London
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