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School of Social Sciences

Students walking past a a collage of different anthropological imagery
MA Social Anthropology - Visual and Sensory Media Pathway
Study human social and cultural experiences with a focus on media.

MA Social Anthropology - Visual and Sensory Media Pathway / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course description

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 Visual and Sensory Media 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 Visual and Sensory Media pathway, there are currently six 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 a small number of 15 credit core modules, and a selection of optional modules that they choose 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.

Some 50 optional modules are available, not only in Social Anthropology but across many other disciplines in the Faculty of Humanities, including Visual Anthropology, Archaeology, Museum Studies, Latin American Studies, Development Studies, Drama, Sociology & History. Drawing on this broad range of disciplines, a number of pathways have been devised in order to maximize the academic & timetabling coherence of the options chosen by students.

The Visual & Sensory Media pathway draws exclusively on modules offered by Social Anthropology & the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology.

  • Students normally take two modules exploring the representation of visual culture in the visual arts, in cinema & in ethnographic film & related documentary genres.
  • In the second semester, they take a practice-based module that offers basic training in photography & sound-recording as well as encouraging reflection on these media both as means of creating anthropological knowledge & as a means of representing it. An important feature of this module are the workshops given by practising professional photographers & sound-recordists. Please note that this last module requires the payment of an additional fee of £500 (currently under review) to cover equipment & facilities costs.
  • The dissertation normally consists of a text directly supported by & integrated with still images &/or sound recordings.

Coursework and assessment

In each semester, students take two 15-credit core modules, & up to 30 credits of optional modules. Many optional modules are worth 15 credits, though some are worth 30. In total, students are required to achieve 120 coursework credits. Over the summer vacation, MA students write a dissertation worth a further 60 credits.

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. But certain options involving practical instruction in research methods, audiovisual media or museum display may also be assessed by means of presentations &/or portfolios of practical work. The dissertation that MA students are required to submit is normally 15,000 words though this may be reduced in length if work in other media is presented in conjunction with the written text.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: dass@manchester.ac.uk