Master of Philosophy in Visual Anthropology


Program Description

Are you interested in human culture and how to use the video camera in social scientific research? At Visual Cultural Studies you are given the opportunity to study ethnographic research methods, anthropological theory, and ethnographic filmmaking in an international environment, culminating with the production of your very own film and a written thesis.

The Department of Archaeology and Social Anthropology offers a two-year full-time Master's programme in Visual Cultural Studies (VCS). The aim of this programme is to teach students how to produce knowledge about people's lives and cultures through an exploration of their everyday lives based on the use of qualitative social science research methods and ethnographic film. The programme combines lectures in academic theory and method, filmmaking and practical instruction in camerawork, sound recording and editing.

The students at the Master's programme follow a set of courses the first two semesters before they travel on fieldwork. Based on this fieldwork, the students write a Master's Thesis and make an ethnographic film. For a complete setup of the programme, please refer to the Programme structure below.

The films produced at VCS are well known for their quality. Every year several films are selected for international documentary and ethnographic film festivals. The originality of the program has led to a special educational prize from UiT, the Arctic University of Norway and a further award for educational quality from the Ministry of Education.

Learning outcomes

After completing successfully the programme, students are expected to have acquired the following learning outcomes.


The candidate

  • has knowledge of the evolution of the social scientific tradition in general, and advanced knowledge of theoretical perspectives within the field of Visual anthropology especially.
  • has a thorough knowledge of the region and/or the field where his/her proper Master project takes place and solid knowledge of the cutting edge of his/her Master project¿s theme.
  • has a thorough knowledge of ethnographic research methodology and the different steps in a research process which involves the use of the video camera.
  • can apply the acquired methods and theoretical perspectives in the description and analyses of new areas within the academic field of Visual Anthropology.
  • can reflect critically on the use of different filmic languages and narrative structures as `ways of knowing¿ in specific historical and societal contexts.
  • has technical knowledge of how to handle and use the recording and editing equipment for video.


The candidate

  • can in a systematic way manage, process and analyze critically material from various sources and use them to structure and formulate a written scholarly argument.
  • Is able to capture the narrative conceptualizations of their field partners by the use of video and create intelligible narrative strategies with a future audience in mind.
  • is able to demonstrate how film and text mutually inform, inspire, and contradict each other, and critically evaluate the role of film in the creation of social scientific knowledge.
  • can under supervision carry out an independent research project which makes use of participant observation and audiovisual tools, with applicable norms for research ethics.
  • is able to make use of video as a tool in the acquisition and dissemination of social scientific knowledge.

General competencies

The candidate

  • is able to identify, analyze and discuss different theoretical and methodological approaches to their own empirical material and apply it in the description and analysis of other sociocultural phenomena.
  • masters the language and terminology of visual socio-cultural research and can communicate to colleagues, partners, and public audiences, the methodological/analytical approaches used in- and the final results of- his/her own work.
  • is able to build up responsibility towards partners in the field and thereby a profound consciousness of the ethics and potentials for the empowerment of research and dissemination.
  • can contribute to new thinking and innovation processes based on the exploration of the possible potentials of visual and analytical tools.
  • is in an independent way able to apply audiovisual tools creatively and critically to enhance/clarify their story narratives within a social science framework.

Admission requirements

Admission to the Master's programme in Visual Cultural Studies requires a Bachelor's degree (180 ECTS) or equivalent qualification in the social sciences or a related field in the humanities. An average grade of equivalent to C or better in the Norwegian grading system is required. Applicants must enclose an application essay written in English (maximum of two pages). This should include descriptions of their motivation for, interest in and expectations relating to their Master's degree studies and ideas for their Master`s Thesis project.

Applicants from Norway or Nordic countries:

The application deadline for Norwegian and other Nordic applicants is 15 April for admission to the autumn semester

Applicants from outside the Nordic countries:

The application deadline for international applicants is

  • 1 December for admission to the autumn semester.
  • Online application, study code 2038

Teaching and assessment

The programme is organised as a continuous participatory learning process: lectures, screenings, writing and filming assignments, and seminars make up the unique cumulative learning process of the two-year course. Students are encouraged to collaborate with each other in developing skills and understandings throughout the study.

The programme includes various types of examinations and coursework requirements, such as essays, research papers, and film presentations. Please note that some courses have coursework requirements. Only students whose coursework requirements have been approved will be allowed to sit the examination.

Teaching and assessment methods are described in the course plan for each course.

This Master's degree is an intensive programme. All courses are compulsory and demand active participation from the students.

Exchange possibilities

Students have the possibility to carry out their fieldwork abroad.

Job prospectives

The VCS degree can open doors to a variety of national and international positions in social research, television and film production, administration, communication, museums, youth and education programmes, etc. Studying in such an international environment develops competencies in cross-cultural communication as well as valuable assets to a number of career options.

Access to further studies

On successful completion of the degree programme, students may be qualified for admission to a PhD programme in a number of academic areas at the UiT, the Arctic University of Norway or elsewhere.

Last updated Oct 2018

About the School

UIT The Arctic University of Norway is the northernmost university of the world. Its location on the edge of the Arctic implies a mission. The Arctic is of increasing global importance. Climate change ... Read More

UIT The Arctic University of Norway is the northernmost university of the world. Its location on the edge of the Arctic implies a mission. The Arctic is of increasing global importance. Climate change, the exploitation of Arctic resources and environmental threats are topics of great public concern, and which the University of Tromsø takes special interest in. At UiT The Arctic University of Norway you can explore global issues from a close-up perspective. Read less
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