Introduction

Social Anthropology allows you to study human societies and carry out research with cultural and critical awareness.

Key Facts

Duration
1 Year / 2 Years
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month
September
Learning Mode
On Campus Learning

Interested in this Degree?

Call +44 (0)1224 272762 Email socscipg@abdn.ac.uk Enquire Using an online form Next Steps Find out how to apply

Overview

Anthropology is the comparative study of human societies in all their diversity. It seeks to understand cultural life in a wide range of social activities. Anthropologists carry out their research through long-term, in-depth fieldwork in their places of regional expertise.

The MRes introduces you to current directions of research in social anthropology and fosters critical reflection on the problems and possibilities entailed in anthropological research. It aims to guide students in how to access and use key sources of research material (e.g. archival, visual, and museological) and to provide training in ethnographic fieldwork research methods (e.g. participant observation, interviewing, recording).

Students completing the programme should be adequately prepared either to undertake further research towards the PhD in Social Anthropology, or to enter employment as trained researchers in the public or private sectors. We offer supervision in most areas of the discipline and we have particular strengths in our four principal research themes: Anthropology of the North, Environment and Perception, Creativity and Knowledge, and Religion, Belief and Practice.

What You'll Study

The information below applies to the 1 year full time / 2 year part time on campus learning MRes programme which runs in September.

Semester 1

Introduction

One module on Research in Social Anthropology that covers contemporary topics in the discipline (15/30 credits).

One module that provides training in research skills to support you in developing your own research in social anthropology (15 credits).

Further Level 5 credits chosen from a range within and beyond the discipline.

Compulsory Courses

Either of the following courses:

Research in Social Anthropology 1 (AT5031)

Research in Social Anthropology 1 (15 credits, first semester) will provide a broad introduction to the discipline of social anthropology at postgraduate level, over the first half of term. We will discuss the history of social anthropology, its position within the social sciences and the humanities, and the nature of anthropological theory.

Research in Social Anthropology 1 (extended) (AT5032)

Research in Social Anthropology 1 (30 credits, first semester) will provide a broad introduction to the discipline of social anthropology at postgraduate level. We will discuss the history of social anthropology, its position within the social sciences and the humanities, the nature of anthropological theory and further themes in contemporary anthropological research. Coursework will comprise of a 5000 essay on a topic to be decided in consultation with the student’s supervisors.

Optional Courses

Two to four of the following courses, depending on credits. Where there is a short and extended version, only one can be chosen.

The Museum Idea (AT5026)

‘The Museum Idea’ course introduces Museum Studies, focusing on the history and philosophy of museums and collecting, relating this to contemporary museum practice. It is a taught by a team of academic staff in disciplines such as Anthropology, Archaeology, Education and History of Art, and the professional staff of the University’s museums. Many class meetings will be held in the University’s museums, including display areas, conservation laboratory and reserve collections and reserve collections, with a field trip to museums in another city in Scotland.

Supervised Reading i (AT5029)

The course comprises a programme of readings that will be devised in advance through consultation between student and supervisor, in light of the student’s intended research interests. The student will write a 3000 word essay on the readings.

Research Skills in Anthropology (AT5033)

This course allows students to learn about and practice research skills in social anthropology through a series of workshops. It will encourage reflexive awareness of the role of research skill, technique and methodology in the discipline. Topics will include the history of methods in anthropology, participant observation, writing fieldnotes, interviews, analysis, and working with media technologies, historical resources and museums. Case studies of how these skills are combined in practical fieldwork will be held. Students will be expected to bring any previous experience of anthropological fieldwork to bear on the discussions, and to develop ideas for their future research practice.

Understanding People and Environment (AT5034)

This course is structured around four sections. The first section will provide an introduction to ecological and environmental anthropology, exploring key issues, theories and debates in the history of the field. The remaining three sections will focus on three broad sub-themes: environmental perception, human-animal relations and anthropology and conservation. These are areas of particular research strength at Aberdeen but between them they also draw on a wide range of approaches and themes, including phenomenology, political ecology, indigenous rights, applied anthropology and aesthetics.

Understanding People and Environment (extended) (AT5035)

This is a course in environmental anthropology, which explores theoretical ideas and major research areas in the field. It is an excellent option for students taking an MRes in anthropology who have an interest in environmental themes. It is also a great choice for students from other disciplines whose work is concerned with human-environment relations.

More Than Human (AT5036)

The course is focussed on relations between humans and nonhumans, particularly animals and plants. A range of disciplinary approaches are explored, including history, cultural geography, natural science and science and technology studies, as well as anthropology.

More Than Human (extended) (AT5037)

This course explores new directions in how we think about humans and other species. Recent years have seen an upsurge in interest in how the social sciences and humanities deal with animals, plants and other organisms and we scrutinise these cutting edge ideas in depth. A lot of emphasis is placed on trying to think through real life encounters and issues, from a walk in the park to new revelations about life from the bottom of the ocean. Although the focus is on anthropological work, the course should appeal to students from a wide range of backgrounds.

Anthropological Theory for MSc (short Version) (AT5040)

Lectures on current issues in anthropological and the main theoretical approaches in contemporary anthropology. Lectures address the concepts and themes of: culture, society, embodiment, biomedicine, technology, ontology, power, subjectivity.

Anthropological Theory for MSc (AT5027)

This course explores theoretical issues and key debates in contemporary anthropology. We begin with the questioning of the central concepts of culture and society in anthropology during the 1980s. Following this, we ask: how can anthropology proceed if the targets of its investigation can no longer be understood as objective entities? How can anthropology proceed if the anthropologist themselves is inevitably implicated in and part of those very targets? To look for possible answers, the course examines current anthropological interest in power and history, political economy and phenomenology, experience, embodiment and practice, ontology and things that speak.

Materials, Technology and Power in the Andean Region (AT5041)

This course introduces students to anthropological studies of the Andes region of South America. Its theoretical focus is on Andean technologies and uses of materials and it examines how these intersect with questions of political power.

Materials, Technology and Power in the Andean Region (extended) (AT5038)

This course introduces students to anthropological studies of the Andes region of South America. Its particular focus is on Andean technologies and uses of materials. Historically, approaches to working with materials in the region differed markedly from those found in Europe and the region remains interesting from a technological perspective. Four main technological areas are addresses: mining and metallurgy; the use of fibres (including for textual purposes); medicine and the body; and working the land. Course material includes contemporary ethnographic and historical studies and incorporates three relevant ethnographic films.

Semester 2

Introduction

One module on Research in Social Anthropology, covering contemporary topics in the discipline (15/30 credits).

One module that provides training in research design (15 credits).

One special research training module, which operates as a week-long series of masterclasses and workshops with invited guests, in collaboration with anthropologists at the University of St Andrews and the University of Edinburgh (15 credits).

Compulsory Courses

Either AT5906 Scottish Training in Anthropological and AT5530 Research in Social Anthropology 2 OR AT5531 Research in Social Anthropology

Scottish Training in Anthropological Research (star) (AT5906)

Scottish Training in Anthropological Research (STAR) is a week-long residential course undertaken in partnership with the Universities of St Andrews, Edinburgh and Glasgow. MRes and pre-fieldwork PhD students in Social Anthropology are normally required to attend. Students will take part in a series of lectures, seminars and workshops related anthropological methods and disciplinary practice. Specific topics will vary from year to year but may include participant observation, fieldnotes, documentary research and the ethics and politics of anthropological research. There are additional costs of approximately £36 per student for undertaking this course.

Full participation at the STAR event, including presentation of group work. Assessment will be marked on a pass/fail basis.

Research in Social Anthropology 2 (AT5530)

Research in Social Anthropology 2 (15 credits, second semester) will discuss key topics within social anthropology, over the first half of the second semester. These may include religion, politics and the state, environmental anthropology, the anthropology of the north, creativity and knowledge, medical anthropology, linguistic anthropology, oral traditions, media, or museums, amongst others. Following the class each week a student-led seminar will be held to discuss the issues raised. Coursework will comprise of a 3000 essay on a topic to be decided in consultation with the student’s supervisors.

Research in Social Anthropology 2 (extended) (AT5531)

Research in Social Anthropology 2 (Extended) (30 credits, second semester) will discuss key topics within social anthropology. These may include religion, politics and the state, environmental anthropology, the anthropology of the north, creativity and knowledge, medical anthropology, linguistic anthropology, oral traditions, media, or museums, amongst others. Following the class each week a student-led seminar will be held to discuss the issues raised. Coursework will comprise of a 5000 essay on a topic to be decided in consultation with the student’s supervisors.

Optional Courses

Further Level 5 credits if required, chosen from a range within and beyond the discipline.

Two to four courses may be selected from the following, depending on credits awarded. Where there is a short and extended version, only one can be chosen.

Reading Environmental Ethnography (AT5509)

This is a reading course with fortnightly meetings for students with an interest in how anthropologists write about environmental themes.

Morality and Belief in Islam (AT5521)

This course examines how Muslims engage with Islam as a system of morality and belief. It discusses the debates within Muslim societies about what constitutes ‘real’ Islam and how Muslims should conduct themselves. How does belief in Islam as a unitary, transcendent Truth, which is universal to all humanity, relate to the diverse manner in which Islam in actually lived in practice throughout the world? An important issue which will be explored in the course is that of subjectivity and selfhood within a Muslim context, and how we might approach the topic of belief itself.

Supervised Reading II (AT5529)

The course comprises a programme of readings that will be devised in advance through consultation between student and supervisor, in light of the student’s intended research interests. The student will write a 3000 word essay on the readings.

Research Design and Practice in Anthropology (AT5532)

This course will introduce students to a range of conceptual and philosophical issues that are relevant to research design in anthropology, and will enable them to write their own research proposal. Taking its lead from critiques of knowledge production in anthropology, it will describe how the contemporary discipline has been shaped by the interplay of objectivity and subjectivity, the representation of the anthropologist and their informants, and new forms of ethical practice. Students will be enabled to respond to these trends by designing research in ways that are both theoretically informed and politically aware.

Culture and Society in Latin America (AT5533)

Culture and Society in Latin America focuses on topical issues emerging from that geographical region. The exact topics covered vary from year to year, and recent presentations have included sessions on indigenous movements and identity politics; the Amazon region and its contribution to anthropological scholarship; mestizaje and hybridity; Latin American perspectives on gender; and museums and display in Latin America. It is an interdisciplinary course taught jointly by staff from anthropology and Hispanic studies and is available to taught postgraduate students in anthropology and from other disciplines (on approval of the course coordinator).

Roads: Mobility, Movement, Migration (AT5542)

The course explores concepts related to notions of movement and mobility, topical themes in contemporary anthropology. Students will be introduced to the following themes: roads, automobility, car cultures, migration, road narratives, and roads in film and literature. The course will rely on ethnographic material from the North, including Scotland. Students will conduct original research on the theme of road. Course assessments include an essay and short submissions on topical issues related to roads and mobility. This course offers five documentary film screenings.

Roads: Mobility, Movement, Migration (extended) (AT5539)

The course explores concepts related to notions of movement and mobility, topical themes in contemporary anthropology. Students will be introduced to the following themes: roads, automobility, car cultures, migration, road narratives, and roads in film and literature. The course will rely on ethnographic material from the North, including Scotland. Students will conduct original research on the theme of road. Course assessments include an essay and short submissions on topical issues related to roads and mobility. This course offers five documentary film screenings.

Semester 3

Introduction

A Dissertation of 12,000 words on an agreed topic.

Compulsory Courses

Dissertation in Social Anthropology (AT5910)

This is a compulsory element on the MRes Social Anthropology programme.

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Assessment

Assessment will be based on extended essays for each individual course module and the dissertation.

Why Study Social Anthropology?

  • Social Anthropology will involve you in the comparative study of human societies.
  • At Aberdeen, our staff specialise in Anthropology from regions as diverse as Canada, the Central Asian Republics, Iceland and Scandinavia, Siberia, Scotland and the UK, South America, Tibet and the Himalayas.
  • You will benefit from close personal supervision from a member of staff throughout your degree.
  • We have a large contingent of postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers.
  • A particular strength of Anthropology at Aberdeen is the study of the circumpolar North, and we also have research themes on Environment and Perception, Creativity and Knowledge and Religion, Belief and Practice.
  • You will find out about the large-scale programmes of funded research currently underway in the Department.
  • Social Anthropology is taught in the School of Social Science, one of six schools in the College of Arts & Social Sciences.
  • The School provides an exciting and vibrant research-led learning environment for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. The University of Aberdeen is a research-led institution and the School of Social Science is committed to producing research of the highest quality across a range of subjects.
  • All of our degree schemes offer a thorough training in the basic principles of social science, a wide choice of specialised subjects, training in the practice of social research and preparation for a wide variety of career opportunities.
  • The Department of Anthropology's research is of international quality and is funded by a wide range of external grants. Our successes in winning grants are based in our collaborative way of working and our commitment to extending the scope of anthropological research in innovative ways. These are underpinned by a coherent set of research themes in the department.
  • Since its founding in 2003 the Department has been a focus internationally for the Anthropology of the North, involving the Nordic and Baltic countries, northern Russia, Iceland, Greenland, Canada and Alaska together with their links to north east Scotland.
  • The environment, and human relations with it, is an important theme in the Department's research and teaching. Current interests include perceptions of society and nature, human-animal relations, the politics of landscape and resource management and place, paths and movement.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee information
Fee category Status Amount
Home / EU / RUK Students Tuition Fee for 2017/18 Academic Year £6,000
International Students Tuition Fee for 2017/18 Academic Year £14,300
  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Funding

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Social Anthroplogy Research 2nd in UK

The results of the last Research Excellence Framework (2014) acknowledged our department as one with the highest research environment score in the University and the second highest in the UK.

Entry Requirements

References are not required in order for applicants to submit an application. They are not usually required in order for a decision to be made but in certain cases applicants may be asked to provide a single academic reference at the request of the academic selector.

Qualifications

Applicants for admission will normally be expected to hold a relevant Honours degree with at least 2:1 standard from a recognised university or body. In exceptional circumstances applicants without this qualification may be admitted subject to having an alternative qualification, or an approved level of work experience, appropriate to the field of study.

The MRes is a research degree in the sense that, alongside courses in research methods, students work out their own specific research topic under the supervision of the department. Many students, but not all, intend to go on to study for a PhD, in which case the dissertation written at the end of the MRes serves as a PhD research proposal. To apply for MRes, please include a short outline of your intended research theme. This need not be very detailed, up to about 1000 words in length.

Language Requirements

All students entering the University must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study effectively at the University of Aberdeen.

Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages. This programme requires that you meet the College of Arts and Social Sciences Postgraduate Standard level of English proficiency.

If you have not achieved the required scores, the University of Aberdeen offers pre-sessional English courses. Further details are available on our Language Centre website.

Nationals of some English-speaking countries or those who hold degrees from some English-speaking countries may be exempted from this requirement. Details of countries recognised as English-speaking can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages.

Document Requirements

  • Degree Certificatea degree certificate showing your qualifications
  • Degree Transcripta full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
  • Referencea reference letter from your university discussing your academic ability

Facilities

Sir Duncan Rice Library

Sir Duncan Rice Library

The University’s award winning Sir Duncan Rice Library is listed in the “Top 20 spellbinding University libraries in the World”. It contains over a million volumes, more than 300,000 e-books and 21,000 journals.

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Careers

There will be many career options open to you after graduating in Anthropology. Recent postgraduate researchers in Anthropology from Aberdeen have gone to work in a range of top universities around the world and in other organisations including governments and museums.

Our Experts

Programme Coordinator
Dr Tatiana Argounova-Low

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Top in Scotland for Anthropology

Source: National Student Survey 2016

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Contact

Address
School of Social Science
University of Aberdeen
Edward Wright Building
Dunbar Street
Aberdeen

AB24 3QY
Email
Phone
+44 (0)1224 272762
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