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School of Social Sciences

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PhD Social Anthropology
Examine human behaviour and relationships under expert research supervision.

PhD Social Anthropology / Overview

Year of entry: 2018

Degree awarded
Doctor of Philosophy
Up to 4 years full-time; Up to 7 years part-time
Entry requirements

Candidates MUST normally have:

  • Bachelors (Honours) degree (or overseas equivalent) at 2:1 level or above in a cognate subject.
  • Normally a Masters degree in anthropology at 65% overall average with minimum 65% in the dissertation and no mark below 55% (or overseas equivalent).  Students who do not have a masters degree in anthropology but in a relevant cognate subject may submit evidence of classes taken in anthropology and/or ethnographic or other qualitative research training and/or research experience.  Transcripts will be carefully scrutinised to ensure that applicants have the required background.  We treat all applications on an individual basis.
  • Cognate subjects include; sociology, history, cultural studies, political science, philosophy, human geography and development studies.
  • Applications that satisfy the academic entry criteria will be considered according to the key criterion for acceptance on the doctoral programme in Social Anthropology: the availability of expert supervision in the department.  Applicants who proceed to the advanced phase of this selection process will be interviewed.

Full entry requirements

Number of places/applicants

Expert supervision is key to research degree programmes. We cannot provide supervision across all areas and we are therefore sometimes unable to offer admission to excellent applicants.

How to apply

Apply online

Formal applications can be submitted on-line at any time. However, if you wish to be considered for funding competitions, you need to have submitted a full on-line application by 1 December 2017.

To identify expert supervision, please explore the research interests of individual members of staff . Once you have a research idea for a PhD project, please directly contact a potential supervisor (do not send the same email to several people). This should be done long in advance of any formal application, preferably several months and at least 3 weeks .

If you are unsure about the feasibility of your application (e.g. regarding eligibility and/or availability of expert supervision in the department), you can email the Postgraduate Admissions Tutor, Dr Madeleine Reeves (email: ) with a preliminary query. Please include a draft research proposal (refer to guidelines ), a summary of the same (max. 150 words) and a CV that includes your marks for previous degrees or ongoing studies (no transcripts required at this stage) as well as any anthropological research experience. These documents will then be considered in terms of formal eligibility and to identify interest and availability of expert supervision. In case of a positive answer, you can use revised versions of these documents for formal on-line application. Such preliminary queries should be sent long in advance of any formal application, preferably several months and at least 4 weeks .

Programme options

Full-time Part-time Full-time distance learning Part-time distance learning

Programme description

This programme involves substantial original research, normally including ethnographic fieldwork of 12 to 18 months and leading to the production of a thesis of up to 80,000 words. Throughout, students work closely with an expert supervisor, with further guidance from at least one extra supervisor.

The programme consists of three or maximum four years of full-time study (or part-time equivalent). Its structure depends on prior qualification:

* Normally, students are registered on the PhD programme and, during the first year, take a set of research training courses. After about 10 months (or 20 in part-time study) they produce a 12,000-15,000 word research proposal. This proposal is examined in an oral viva. Successful completion of this viva and of coursework at satisfactory level, is a condition for students to proceed to field research. After fieldwork, students return to the University and start writing their dissertation under the guidance of their supervisors.

* Students who have successfully completed our MA Anthropological Research, or an equivalent ESRC-recognised course in another UK institution, may be in a position to start fieldwork as soon as is practicable, provided that they have submitted a satisfactory research proposal as part of that previous degree and it has been approved by the School of Social Sciences. After fieldwork, students return to the University and start writing their dissertation under the guidance of their supervisors.

Currently Manchester Social Anthropology has a lively PhD community of over 50 students working in all of the world's continents and on a variety of topics. Find out what some of our postgraduate researchers are working on .

Open days

For details of the next University Postgraduate open day, visit open days and visits


For entry in the academic year beginning September 2018, the tuition fees are as follows:

  • PhD (full-time)
    UK/EU students (per annum): TBA
    International students (per annum): £18,000
  • PhD (part-time)
    UK/EU students (per annum): TBA
    International students (per annum): £9,000


Please see the School's funding page for further information.

Please note that the School's funding page is not yet fully updated.  For any enquiries, please email

Contact details

Academic department
School of Social Sciences
+44 (0)161 275 4743
+44 (0)161 275 2450
Academic department overview