Anthropology prides itself on its inclusive and interdisciplinary focus. It takes a holistic approach to human society, combining biological and social perspectives.
This programme is designed as an advanced course in social anthropology and is for students who have already studied anthropology either as a degree course or as part of a degree course at undergraduate level. It provides in-depth generalist training in anthropology and is excellent preparation for those embarking on research degrees in anthropology or intending to enter professional fields in which anthropological training is advantageous.
Why Study With Us?
- One year Master's programme
- Committed to practice-led theory taught by active researchers.
- Hands-on methods training to prepare you for independent research.
- A wide choice of optional modules allows for further specialization in areas of expertise.
- Regional specialisms include Amazon, Southeast, and Southern Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Central America, New Guinea, and Polynesia.
- Opportunity to develop skills in visual anthropology through modules in the anthropological use of photography, film, and video.
- Specialism in the application of computers and IT to anthropological research and practice.
- Small groups and excellent facilities
- Opportunity to join our annual field trip to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Anthropology and Conservation was ranked 10th for research power and in the top 20 in the UK for research impact and research power.
An impressive 94% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.
This programme offers a high level of flexibility with four compulsory modules, a research project dissertation, and four optional modules from those listed below, or from the range of School modules.
Compulsory modules for this programme are:
- SE882 Theory and Ethnography in Social Anthropology I
- SE883 Theory and Ethnography in Social Anthropology II
- SE885 Anthropological Research Methods I
- SE886 Anthropological Research Methods II
Please note that modules are subject to change. Please contact the School for more detailed information on availability.
Modules may include & Credits
- SE821 - Advanced Topics in Social and Environmental Anthropology 15
- SE882 - Theory and Ethnography in Social Anthropology I 15
- SE883 - Theory and Ethnography in Anthropology II 15
- SE885 - Anthropological Research Methods I 15
- SE886 - Anthropological Research Methods II 15
- SE998 - Dissertation: Anthropology 60
Teaching and Assessment
Assessment is by written reports, oral presentations, and the dissertation.
This programme aims to:
- provide you with a broad range of knowledge in the major sub-divisions of the discipline, showing how it is closely linked to other academic disciplines.
- provide you with an advanced level knowledge of the theoretical and methodological issues relevant to understanding the discipline
- introduce you to a variety of different approaches to social science research, presented in a multidisciplinary context and at an advanced level
- facilitate your educational experience through the provision of appropriate pedagogical opportunities for learning
- provide an appropriate training for students preparing MPhil/ Ph.D. theses, or for those going on to employment involving the use of social science research
- make you aware of the range of existing material available and equip you to evaluate its utility for your research
- cover the principles of research design and strategy, including formulating research questions or hypotheses and translating them into practicable research designs
- introduce you to the philosophical, theoretical and ethical issues surrounding research and to debates about the relationship between theory and research, about problems of evidence and inference, and about the limits to objectivity
- Develop your skills in searching for and retrieving information, using library and internet resources in a multidisciplinary and cross-national context
- introduce you to the idea of working with other academic and non-academic agencies, when appropriate, and give you the skills to carry out collaborative research
- develop your skills in writing, in the preparation of a research proposal, in the presentation of research results and in verbal communication
- help you to prepare your research results for wider dissemination, in the form of seminar papers, conference presentations, reports, and publications, in a form suitable for a range of different audiences, including academics, policymakers, professionals, service users, and the general public
- give you an appreciation of the potentialities and problems of anthropological research in local, regional, national and international settings
- ensure that the research of the Department’s staff informs the design of modules, and their content and delivery in ways which can achieve the national benchmarks of the discipline in a manner which is efficient and reliable, and enjoyable to students.
Knowledge and understanding
You will gain knowledge and understanding of:
- social anthropology as the comparative study of human societies
- specific themes in social anthropology eg religion, politics, nationalism and ethnicity
- human diversity and an appreciation of its scope
- several ethnographic regions of the world including central, West and East Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia (in particular Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines)
- the history of the development of anthropology as a discipline
- the variety of theoretical approaches contained within the discipline
- the process of historical and social change
- the application of anthropology to understanding issues of social and economic development throughout the world
- the relevance of anthropology to understanding everyday processes of social life anywhere in the world.
You develop intellectual skills in:
- general learning and study skills
- critical and analytical skills
- expression of ideas both orally and in written form
- communication skills
- groupwork skills
- computing skills
- reviewing and summarising information
- data retrieval ability.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- the ability to understand how people are shaped by their social, cultural and physical environments while nonetheless possessing a capacity for the individual agency which can allow them to transcend some environmental constraints
- the ability to recognize the pertinence of an anthropological perspective to understanding major national and international events.
- the ability to interpret texts and performance by locating them within appropriate cultural and historical contexts
- high-level competence in using anthropological theories and perspectives in the presentation of information and argument
- high-level ability to identify and analyze the significance of the social and cultural contexts of language use
- the ability to devise questions for research and study which are anthropologically informed
- the ability to perceive the way in which cultural assumptions may affect the opinions of others and oneself
- an openness to try and make rational sense of cultural and social phenomena that may appear at first sight incomprehensible.
You will gain the following transferable skills:
- the ability to make a structured argument
- the ability to make appropriate reference to scholarly data
- time-management skills
- the use of information technology including computers and library research
- handling audio-visual equipment
- independent research
- presentation skills
- have the ability to exercise initiative and personal responsibility
- have the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.
The School has a lively postgraduate community drawn together not only by shared resources such as postgraduate rooms, computer facilities (with a dedicated IT officer) and laboratories but also by student-led events, societies, staff/postgraduate seminars, weekly research student seminars and a number of special lectures.
The School houses well-equipped research laboratories for genetics, ecology, visual anthropology, virtual paleoanthropology, Animal Postcranial Evolution, biological anthropology, anthropological computing, botany, osteology, and ethnobiology. The state-of-the-art visual anthropology laboratory is stocked with digital editing programmes and other facilities for digital video and photographic work and has a photographic darkroom for analog developing and printing.
Kent has outstanding anthropology IT facilities. Over the last decade, the School has been associated with many innovatory projects, particularly in the field of cognitive anthropology. It provides an electronic information service to other anthropology departments, for example by hosting both the Anthropological Index Online and Experience-Rich Anthropology project. We encourage all students to use the Centre’s facilities (no previous experience or training is necessary).
Anthropology at Kent has close links with the nearby Powell-Cotton Museum, which has one of the largest ethnographic collections in the British Isles and is particularly strong in sub-Saharan African and Southeast Asian material. It also houses an extensive comparative collection of primate and other mammalian material. The human skeletal material is housed at the Kent Osteological Research and Analysis Centre within the School.
Anthropology, together with the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) form the School of Anthropology and Conservation.
Global Skills Award
All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.
The School has a very good record for postgraduate employment and academic continuation, 100% of our postgraduate students, who graduated in 2014, found a professional job within six months or continued on to a Ph.D., ranking Anthropology at Kent 1st in the sector. Studying anthropology, you develop an understanding of the complexity of all actions, beliefs, and discourse by acquiring strong methodological and analytical skills. Anthropologists are increasingly being hired by companies and organizations that recognize the value of employing people who understand the complexities of societies and organizations.
As a School recognized for its excellence in research we are one of the partners in the South East Doctoral Training Centre, which is recognized by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). This relationship ensures that successful completion of our courses is sufficient preparation for research in the various fields of social anthropology. Many of our students go on to do Ph.D. research. Others use their Master’s qualification in employment ranging from research in government departments to teaching to consultancy work overseas.
Many of our alumni teach in academic positions in universities across the world, whilst others work for a wide range of organizations. Examples of positions held by our alumni include:
- Corporate anthropologist
- Campaign developer for War Child
- Project director for the Global Diversity Foundation
- Curator at Beirut Botanic Gardens
- Film producer for First German Television
- Project manager for Porchlight Homelessness Charity
Hear more from MA Social Anthropology alumni Victor Fiorini who found employment as Detainee-Visitor Manager for Dover Detainee Visitor Group.
"The skills I gained during the BA and MA in social anthropology were crucial, as they opened up a new way of looking at structural inequality locally and allowed me to discern this otherwise hidden problem through participant observation and ‘being there’. I find it very important to have the opportunity to apply my knowledge first-hand and address issues of social injustice in the local community, where I can make a difference in people’s lives."
Social Anthropology MA
A good honors degree (2.1 or above) in anthropology or associated fields. In certain circumstances, we will consider students who have not followed a conventional education path. These cases are assessed individually by the Director of Graduate Studies and the programme convenor.
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country.
English language entry requirements
The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.
Need help with English?
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Dynamic publishing culture
Staff publishes regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings, and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to American Ethnologist; Current Anthropology; Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute; American Journal of Physical Anthropology; Proceedings of the Royal Society B; and Journal of Human Evolution.
The regional expertise of our staff has a global reach, with field sites in Europe (including the UK), the Middle East, the Balkans, South Asia, Amazonia, and Central America, Oceania, and Southeast Asia. Themes of conflict, violence, the economic crisis, and precarity form a major focus of our current work in these areas, alongside new research on austerity and its social impact, and charity. We have emerging interests in social inequality, work, and organized crime and corruption; and are internationally recognized for our work on ethnicity, nationalism, and identity.
Our research extends to intercommunal violence, diasporas, pilgrimage, intercommunal trade, urban ethnogenesis, indigenous representation and the study of contemporary religions and their global connections (especially Islam). History and heritage is another key theme, with related interests in time and temporality, and the School hosts the leading journal History and Anthropology. Other research addresses the anthropology of natural resources; anthropology of tourism; and post-socialist economy and society in Europe and Central Asia.
We research issues in fieldwork and methodology more generally, with a strong interest in the field of visual anthropology. Our work on identity and locality links with growing strengths in kinship and parenthood. This is complemented by work on the language of relatedness, and the cognitive bases of kinship terminologies
A final focus concerns science, medical anthropology, and contemporary society. We work on the anthropology of business, biotechnology, and mental health. Related research focuses on policy and advocacy issues and examines the connections between public health policy and local healing strategies. Staff collaborations and networks extend widely across these regions and thematic interests, and Kent is well-known for its pioneering engagement with the anthropology of Europe.
Digital Anthropology: Cultural Informatics and Computational Methods
Since 1985, we have pioneered new approaches to digital anthropology. Achievements include advances in kinship theory supported by new computational methods. We are exploring cloud media, semantic networks, multi-agent modeling, dual/blended realities, data mining, and smart environments. Current work also addresses quantitative approaches for assessing qualitative materials; mobile computing; sensing and communications platforms, and transformation of virtual into concrete objects.
Visual Anthropology offers a unique opportunity to explore traditional and experimental means of using visual and audio-visual media to research, represent and produce anthropological knowledge. Our pioneering use of multimedia in anthropology is now complemented by an innovative interest in public and collaborative anthropology, critical engagement with policy and the use of audio-visual and internet-based media in advocacy and activism.
Grounded in and committed to practice-led theory in social anthropology the modules critically examines the relation of the visual to the other senses and the power of media to move people to action. It also seeks inspiration from outside of disciplinary boundaries for the purposes of engaging wider audiences.
Visit our blog; to watch student videos, see photos from our recent events and watch talks. Our blog will give you a real feel for the exciting life of visual anthropology at Kent.
Students are allocated a supervisor to support them for the production of their 15,000-word dissertation. The dissertation allows students to develop an idea, employ their research methods training and produce a research thesis.
Examples of recent projects include:
- A state of withdrawal: Fielding perceptions of climate change in England
- The significance of a perfumed artifact: Incense in the social context of Swahili culture as seen in Stone Town, Zanzibar
- Narrativising ultrasound scans: Reassurance, confidence, and consequence during pregnancy in Medway
- The power of touch: A study on the efficacy of Reiki healing
The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
Social Anthropology - MA at Canterbury:
For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.
Program taught in: