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School of Social Sciences

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MA Social Anthropology
Gain critical thinking skills from one the UK's best universities for social anthropology teaching.

MA Social Anthropology / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course description

  • Would you like personalised supervision from the very first week of study?
  • Do you want a course that links with Visual Anthropology and uses our ethnographic film-making facilities?
  • Are you interested in the series of pathways offering specialist knowledge of different areas?

The 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 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. If they wish, students are able, 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 total, there are currently 5 pathways.  

However, please note that it is not compulsory to select a pathway and all students will be awarded the same degree, an 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. However students are not obliged to select one of these pathways and, provided the course director and tutor are in agreement, may follow their own 'customized' selection of modules.


Part-time students complete the full-time programme over two years.  There are NO evening or weekend course units available on the part-time programme.  

You must first check the schedule of the compulsory modules and then select your optional modules to suit your requirements.  

Updated timetable information will be available from mid-August and you will have the opportunity to discuss your module choices during induction week with your Course Director

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.

Course unit details

Further information available via the Study Details tab.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
MA Ethnography Reading Seminar SOAN70691 15 Mandatory
Key Approaches in Social Anthropology SOAN70811 15 Mandatory
Contemporary Debates in Social Anthropology SOAN70822 15 Mandatory
Medical Anthropology SOAN60021 15 Optional
An Anthropology of Science, Magic and Expertise SOAN60032 15 Optional
Anthropology of Development and Humanitarianism SOAN60111 15 Optional
Contemporary Issues in the Social Anthropology of the Middle East SOAN60122 15 Optional
Anthropology of Childhood and Education SOAN60371 15 Optional
Anthropology of Britain SOAN60382 15 Optional
The good life: an anthropology of ethics SOAN60391 15 Optional
Documentary and Sensory Media SOAN60992 15 Optional
Anthropology of Vision, Senses and Memory SOAN70591 15 Optional
Screening Culture SOAN70772 15 Optional
Black Identity and Culture in Latin America SOAN70782 15 Optional
Displaying 10 of 14 course units

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: