Master in Anthropology, Art and Perception


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

The MRes in Anthropology, Art and Perception provides training for postgraduate research into the anthropology of human creativity, art, material culture and visual expression. It takes perception as its starting point and draws on themes extending across the subject boundaries between art and anthropology.

The MRes in Anthropology, Art and Perception is led by the Department of Social Anthropology within the School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies.


  • Students will explore new ways of thinking anthropologically and gain access to cutting-edge research tools for future research, including practical 'learning labs' with invited experts and a field visit.
  • The course benefits from small class sizes and an interdisciplinary approach.
  • Students have the option to write a library based dissertation or a dissertation with a practical component.

Course description

The programme takes perception as its starting point and draws on themes extending across the subject boundaries between art and anthropology. These themes include:

  • the senses and perception in anthropology,
  • the role of community and cooperation in both making and use of apprenticeship and practice-based research,
  • observation and the use of attention in drawing, photography, sound and film,
  • the relationship between art and psychology,
  • representation,
  • a practical sensory project,
  • heritage,
  • design anthropology,
  • commonalities between anthropological fieldwork and contemporary art practice.

The MRes provides an excellent grounding in contemporary research themes and innovative research methods for students aiming to do a PhD in anthropology, visual culture, design anthropology, heritage studies, and related subjects. It also provides important training for students interested in a career in the heritage sector, development, the creative industries, workplace management and design.

Teaching format

Over two semesters, students take four compulsory modules. Teaching methods include formal lectures combined with seminar-style teaching, one-off practical 'learning labs' with invited experts, and a field trip. Lecture groups are small. Modules are assessed through coursework which includes essays and independent research-led assignments.

Over the course of the year, with particular focus during the summer months, you will devise a research project culminating in a 15,000-word dissertation or 10,000-word dissertation with a practical element. Every taught postgraduate student is assigned an individual supervisor from among the anthropology staff who works with them closely to develop a topic and direction for the end of degree dissertation.

The Department of Social Anthropology provides postgraduates with access to a museum collection of ethnographic objects and a common room that includes a general anthropological class library, providing a space that is shared by both staff and postgraduates. The Departmental libraries, along with the main library which holds a fine anthropology collection, include materials from all ethnographic regions of the world.


Each module typically comprises:

  • 22 contact hours for lectures and seminars, plus additional 'learning lab' time and field trip,
  • 100% coursework assessment.

The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment.

Semester 1

  • Anthropology, Art and Perception 1: centres on the role of perception in visual and material culture and covers haptic, visual, sonic and gustatory themes in anthropology, and addresses the role of aesthetics from ethnographic, anthropological and psychological perspectives.
  • The Anthropology of Connections: Interdisciplinarity as Methodology: examines the relevance of other disciplines for social anthropology by working with methodologies and concepts drawn from history, social science, philosophy, language and the arts.

Semester 2

  • Anthropology, Art and Perception 2: explores anthropology's potential for contributing to and critiquing image production in film, art and photography; develops new sensory approaches to observation and engagement, and asks what is entailed in perceiving the past.
  • Research Methods in Social Anthropology: examines the methodology of anthropological research through close attention to the relationship between method and fieldwork experience.


Students can choose to complete a 15,000-word research dissertation or a 10,000-word dissertation with a practical element. Student dissertations will be supervised by a member of the teaching staff who will advise on the choice of subject and provide guidance throughout the research process. The completed dissertation must be submitted by a specified date in August.

If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MRes, there are exit awards available that allow suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGCert or PGDip instead of an MRes.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2019 entry.


Social Anthropology graduates have characteristics many employers seek, and a Social Anthropology degree provides openings to a wide range of careers. Our graduates have gained successful employment in areas such as:

  • teaching
  • design
  • wildlife conservation
  • museums
  • international policy and non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
  • journalism (BBC and The Independent)
  • marketing

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

Entry requirements

  • A good 2.1 Honours undergraduate degree. We welcome applications from students with an undergraduate degree in Social Anthropology and from those with no previous anthropological experience.
  • If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.
  • English language proficiency.

The qualifications listed are indicative of minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

Application requirements

  • CV,
  • personal statement (optional),
  • a sample of academic written work (2,000 words),
  • two original signed academic references,
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates,
  • evidence of English language proficiency (required if English is not your first language).

STAR programme

The Scottish Training in Anthropological Research (STAR) consortium brings together social anthropologists from the Universities of St Andrews, Aberdeen and Edinburgh to support innovation in research and teaching.

In addition to co-hosting international conferences and workshops, the consortium runs two free week-long residential training courses each year in anthropology for postgraduate students and early career researchers. The first course is for students at the pre-fieldwork level and the second is for those at an advanced stage of research writing.


Recent Graduate Discount

The University of St Andrews offers a 10% discount in postgraduate tuition fees to students who are eligible to graduate or who have graduated from St Andrews within the last three academic years and are starting a postgraduate programme with the University of St Andrews.

Last updated Apr 2020

About the School

As a 600-year-old institution, it's no surprise that the University of St Andrews is known across the globe as a world leader in education. We are Scotland’s best university ranked by the Complete Uni ... Read More

As a 600-year-old institution, it's no surprise that the University of St Andrews is known across the globe as a world leader in education. We are Scotland’s best university ranked by the Complete University Guide 2019, and 2nd overall in the UK (Guardian Good University Guide 2019). Read less
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