Department of Social Anthropology

Prospective postgraduates

Degree Options


The department offers four Masters of Research (MRes) degrees: 

The ESRC accredited MRes in Social Anthropology includes research and methodology training, along with core social anthropology teaching, dissertation preparation and various social science components. 

The department also has two regional MRes pathways, the MRes in Social Anthropology and Amerindian Studies and the MRes in Social Anthropology with Pacific Studies, both of which are geared toward students seeking anthropological specialisation in these regions of the world. 

We also have an MRes in Anthropology, Art and Perception. This MRes forms an important masters’ training for postgraduate research into Creativity, the Anthropology of Art, and Visual Expression. It takes perception as its starting point, and draws on themes extending across the subject boundaries between art and anthropology. 

Each degree runs for one calendar year (full time).

Master of Studies by Research

For those with sufficient undergraduate experience in social anthropology (usually equivalent to a first class BA Hons degree in social anthropology), it is possible to apply to enter the Master of Studies (Mst) by Research. This is a one year research degree, with no credited taught modules, but instead solely run through individual supervision with a listed member of staff. The Master of Studies is assessed through a 30,000 word dissertation [on a topic of the student's choice], which is assessed by a team composed of an internal and external examiner.

Those interested in this research degree choice, should please contact the department before application to discuss the proposal topic and possible supervisor.


The department offers PhD supervision across a diverse range of theoretical interests and topics. Prospective PhD candidates have typically taken on projects that are daring, explorative and creative, yet nevertheless require intensive ethnographic fieldwork.

As well as supervising projects linked to the three research centres: the Centre for Amerindian, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Centre for Cosmopolitan Studies and the Centre for Pacific Studies, the department and its staff especially invite project submissions for work on urban anthropology, migration, visual anthropology, postcolonial institutions, anthropology and literature, anthropology and history, new media cultures, apprenticeship, craftwork & material culture, Christianities, mining & resource extraction and anthropology of ethics. Other regional strengths include a strong focus on African societies, Britain and Europe, and Central Asia.

Our PG student profiles indicate research projects currently underway.

Research and the Postgraduate Community

PhD candidates have the opportunity to participate in, and organize various conferences and workshops.  This often results in publication projects led by postgraduates.  Additionally, MRes and PhD students take part in the Scottish Training in Anthropological Research (STAR Programme), which brings researchers together before and after fieldwork as part of the candidate’s continuing education and skill building.

Students are given ample opportunity to present and exchange ideas and writing drafts in a host of formal and informal settings.  Weekly departmental seminars along with reading and writing groups allow postgraduates to discuss and analyze theoretical, methodological and ethical issues pertaining to social anthropology.

Students and faculty engage in a scholastic community that is friendly, intellectual, but not pedantic.  PhD students returning from the field are allotted spacious offices for writing up.  They are also given the opportunity to tutor in select undergraduate social anthropology and sustainable development modules. 

Entry Requirements and the Application Process

Entry to the taught programmes is in mid September, and to the research programmes normally in September or January. The research programmes are available on both a full-time and part-time basis.

Admission to all programmes normally supposes that you hold a meritorious undergraduate degree, normally 2.1 or better or its equivalent (e.g. GPA of 3.6 or better on a 4 point scale). The undergraduate degree does not need to be in the discipline of Social Anthropology, but candidates may be advised to take the MRes first, if they have insufficient anthropological preparation.

If your first language is not English you must satisfy the University’s language requirements for entry, by submitting a recognised language certificate (such as a TOEFL or IELTS certificate). Further information and an online application form can be found on the Postgraduate Recruitment pages. 

Information on how to apply to the University is available via the Postgraduate Recruitment pages.

Departmental Contacts 

General Enquiries should be addressed to the Postgraduate Secretary on

For more specific information about either the MRes, Mst or PhD programme please contact the Director of Postgrduate Studies Professor Roy Dilley.