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Durham University Featured Masters Courses

Sociocultural Anthropology (MA)


Course Description

This course is designed for students with an undergraduate degree in a subject other than anthropology who would like to prepare for research in socio-cultural anthropology or for a career requiring expertise in anthropology.

High profile social anthropologist researchers at Durham, with experience of conducting fieldwork all around the world, introduce students to both classical and contemporary writing and research in the discipline. There is equal emphasis on theoretical and methodological questions, and plenty of opportunity to apply this new knowledge to issues of pressing social concern.

The full-time course consists of two terms of teaching, during which students are introduced to the range of research questions and methods, and a dissertation, involving the design, development and implementation of an independent research project. Students work closely with academic staff, and have the opportunity to become involved in active research projects.

Compulsory modules:
-Dissertation
-Key Issues in Sociocultural Theory
-Fieldwork and Interpretation
-Interrogating Ethnography

Previous optional modules have included:
-Academic and Professional Skills in Anthropology
-Anthropology and Development
-Art in Ecological Perspective
-Body, Politics and Experience
-Computational Methods for Social Sciences
-Cultural Evolution
-Religion, Contention and Public Controversy
-Society, Energy, Environment and Resilience
-Statistical Analysis in Anthropology
-Thinking Anthropologically.
-Advanced Anthropology of Mental Health and Illness
-Science, Culture and Ethics: Advanced Perspectives
-Foreign language option

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 totalling 60 credits. Full-time students have on average 6-8 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 the dissertation coordinator.

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 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 Sociocultural Anthropology (MA) page on the Durham University website for more details!

Entry Requirements


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