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Social Anthropology MRes

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  • Objectives
    An MRes is now the ESRC’s preferred route for proceeding to doctoral study. The MRes in Anthropology meets the ESRC requirements and is recognised for training for advanced research in anthropology. It is designed to give a rounded introduction to research methods as well as content specific knowledge to equip students to embark with confidence on independent anthropological research. The course aims to provide a detailed insight into the nature of social anthropological research, through a mix of practical and theoretical work. Its particular aim is to provide the training necessary to successfully complete ethnographic research, either as part of a team or as an individual. Students on this programme this programme have undertaken fieldwork in many settings in many countries – previous and ongoing research includes: * Studying street children in Vietnam. * Researching women’s health and perceptions of their bodies in Southern Brazil. * Investigating body images, school and young women in North London. * Studying the relationship between science-based medicine and indigenous medicine in Baluchistan. * Studying the cultural understanding and impact of HIV/AIDS in Southern India. * Researching the Muslim community in Nepal. * Investigating cultural understandings of malaria in Kenya. * Researching childhood in Zambia. * Studying small-scale mining and “gold dreaming” in Papua New Guinea. * Studying domestic relations and architectural design in a central London estate. The programme marries the best aspects of the traditional apprenticeship system of social anthropology: students work with a leading anthropologist in their geographical area of interest and undertake a formal training programme concerned with developing broader anthropological skills in the context of social science as a whole. Students have been or are being funded by the British Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme, the World Health Organisation, national and local governments as well as NGOs.
  • Entry requirements
    Entry Requirements Normally a good Honours degree from a UK institution; an equivalent overseas qualification; or an equivalent professional qualification (eg from a health teaching or child welfare background or similar). Candidates not fully meeting these criteria may nevertheless be considered. Students whose first language is not English must have IELTS of at least 6.5 or equivalent.
  • Academic Title
    Social Anthropology MRes
  • Course description
    The MRes Anthropology programme marries the best aspects of the traditional apprenticeship system of social anthropology - working with a leading anthropologist in their geographical area of interest - combined with a formal training programme concerned with developing broader anthropological skills in the context of social science as a whole.

    The programme is growing fast, with students currently undertaking fieldwork in many countries. Research includes the study of street children in Vietnam; researching women’s health and perceptions of their bodies in Southern Brazil and studying the cultural understanding and impact of HIV/AIDS in Southern India.

    Graduate Research Skills and Professional Development
    Main topics of study: reviewing research aims and objectives; choosing research methods; study design, sampling, and analytical issues in the use of such methods; appropriate resources for such studies; using information technologies; managing a research project, presenting research information.

    Dissertation in Social Anthropology Research

     Ethnographic Research Methods
    Main topics of study: the centrality of fieldwork to anthropological research; theoretical and practical issues of participant observation, open-ended unstructured interviews and semi-structured interviews; the advantages and disadvantages of using questionnaires during fieldwork; different styles of ethnographic writing; gaining access in ethnographic research; ethical clearance and ethical dilemmas arising in the course of fieldwork; constructing a research proposal.

     The Anthropology of Education
    Main topics of study: history of anthropology of education and learning; evaluating the anthropological contribution to research in education; education, learning and the politics of culture and society; education, learning and international development; education and schooling in social context; education, authority and the transmission of knowledge; education and apprenticeship; education, learning and literacy; education and categories of social distinction - age, kinship, nationalism and religion; education and categories of social distinction - race, class, gender and ethnicity; education, knowledge and social memory; education, the state and nationalism

    Anthropological and Psychological Perspectives on Learning
    Main topics of study: models of learning in anthropology and psychology; children as subjects and objects; llearning as an embodied microhistorical process; space-time coordinates of learning; kinship and intersubjectivity; person and gender; language and consciousness; ritual and learning.

    Themes in Psychological and Psychiatric Anthropology
    Main topics of study: the development of psychological and psychiatric anthropology;
    theories of emotion (approaches to, and critiques of, the 'social construction of emotion'); selfhood and subjectivity in cross-cultural perspective; psychoanalytic approaches; folk psychologies; culture and personality; mental health and ethnic minorities; cultural perspectives on madness; narrative and illness; the construction of diagnostic categories.

    Anthropological Approaches to Public Health
    Main topics of study: changing conceptions of public health; constructing public health problems: the case of female circumcision; the social construction of epidemics; constructions of health and sickness in war zones; the changing relationship between anthropology and epidemiology; targeting people, targeting places: the limits of HIV prevention strategies; neglected tropical diseases and the case for targeted disease control programmes; public health and healing in the aftermath of war; evaluating public health policy; human rights and public health; ethical aspects of public health policy and practice.

    The Anthropology of Childhood and Youth
    Main topics of study: the concept of the child in society; children's participation in society; children's ways of coping with violence; child play; child labour; the history of youth as a political category; young people's resistance to marginalisation; the radicalisation of young people.

    Clinically Applied Medical Anthropology
    Main topics of study: medical versus lay perceptions of illness; body image and the interpretation of symptoms; psychosomatic disorders; reproduction and childbirth; death, dying and bereavement; ritual in health care; family culture and health; alcohol, tobacco and drug use and abuse.

    Applied Anthropology and International Health
    Main topics of study: health care pluralism in the UK, and abroad; folk, traditional and alternative healers; cultural attitudes to food and causes of malnutrition; cross-cultural psychiatry, and cross-cultural definitions of mental illness; culture-bound syndromes; migration, stress and health; urbanisation and the urban poor; family planning programmes; HIV and AIDS; primary health care; malaria; cultural barriers to international aid programmes.

    Further details (School of Social Sciences web pages)

    Special Features

    University regulations allow for students to be eligible for exemption of up to 50 credits of the taught component of the degree. Such exemption is based on satisfactory prior completion of Master's level courses/modules with an equivalent content to those available on the MRes. Exemptions will not normally be granted for the two modules in Graduate Research Skills and Professional Development. Application for all exemptions are made to the MRes Convenor, prior to the beginning of the course.

    Our course team has worked in countries across the globe including South, West and East Africa, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka, as well as Britain.

    Research interests of our current team of internationally respected anthropologists are as follows:

    Dr Nicolas Argenti has undertaken long-term fieldwork in Cameroon and in Sri Lanka. He is an expert on children’s and young people’s experience of conflict and on theories of material culture and social change.

    Dr Andrew Beatty specialises in religion, kinship and emotion. He has worked on the relation between family forms and styles of thinking (conceptual and moral relativism) in Java, has a research interest in Mexico and has published on the anthropology of emotion.

    Dr Peggy Froerer has undertaken extensive fieldwork in India on Hindu nationalism, Christian/Hindu ethnic relations and education. Her recent work focuses on childhood, learning and cognition, and on children's understanding and beliefs about illness and health.

    Dr Eric Hirsch has a long-standing interest in the ethnography and history of Papua New Guinea. His research focuses on issues of historicity, landscape, power and property relations. He has also carried out fieldwork in Britain on the relations between new technologies and personhood.

    Professor Cecil Helman was recently awarded the Career Achievement Award of the Society of Medical Anthropology, American Anthropological Association and the Lucy Mair Medal for Applied Anthropology of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Some recent research includes beliefs about Diabetes Mellitus among British Bangladeshis and perceptions of childhood immunisations among Xhosa people in rural Transkei, South Africa. He is the author of the standard international textbook Culture, Health and Illness.

    Professor Adam Kuper is an expert on the history of anthropological theory, kinship, and the ethnography of Africa.

    Dr Isak Niehaus works on the diverse fields of population removals, cosmology, witchcraft, masculinity, sexuality, politics and AIDS in the South African lowveld, and is interested in the parallels between post-Apartheid in South Africa and post-Communism in the Czech Republic. He is currently writing the biography of a South African teacher.

    Dr Melissa Parker has undertaken research in Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Ghana and London. Her publications address a wide range of issues including tropical diseases; maternal and child health; female circumcision and sexuality; HIV/AIDS and sexual networks; anthropology and public health.

    Dr James Staples conducts fieldwork in South India, including long-term research with leprosy-affected people in a rural coastal community and, more recently, with disabled people in the major city of Hyderabad. His thematic interests include personhood, performance and the body; disability and notions of human rights; and marginal livelihoods, including begging.


    All assessment is based on course and project work.

    Teaching Methods

    You will be taught via a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials and film.

    The MRes is specifically designed for students wishing to proceed to doctoral study in anthropology. However, the broad range of research strategies taught also makes it an excellent basis for professional development and research in other areas of social science.

Other programs related to Anthropology

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