Anthropology and Geography, MA

Anthropology and Geography, MA

Introduction

This degree brings together two closely linked and relevant subjects. Through various course choices, you will build your understanding of human societies and develop a greater understanding of the earth in which they lived.

Anthropology at Aberdeen is ranked 3rd in the UK for overall student satisfaction in the 2022 National Student Survey.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
MA
Duration
48 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
September
UCAS Code
LL67
Pathway Programme Available
Undergraduate Foundation Programme
Degree marketing image

Anthropology is the study of human societies and cultural differences, at all places and in all times. Its approach is comparative, holistic and gives a view of social life from the inside.

Geography is the study of the Earth's surface, with particular emphasis on the relationship between people and their environment. Few other subjects cover such a diversity of phenomena, combining elements of the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities.

What You'll Study

Year 1

Compulsory Courses

Academic Writing for Social Sciences (AW1006)

This compulsory evaluation is designed to find out if your academic writing is of a sufficient standard to enable you to succeed at university and, if you need it, to provide support to improve. It is completed on-line via MyAberdeen with clear instructions to guide you through it. If you pass the evaluation at the first assessment it will not take much of your time. If you do not, you will be provided with resources to help you improve. This evaluation does not carry credits but if you do not complete it this will be recorded on your degree transcript.

Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD1002)

This course, which is prescribed for level 1 undergraduate students (and articulating students who are in their first year at the University), is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.

Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.

Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.

Introduction to Anthropology: Peoples of the World (AT1003)

15 Credit Points

Anthropology is the comparative study of human ways of life through the study of societies and cultures around the world. In this course we introduce some of the key topics of contemporary anthropological inquiry: What is Anthropology? What do anthropologists do? What is ethnography? How can we see the diverse world of societies and cultures around us, not by looking from the outside, but by looking at how people themselves make their own lives and meanings?

Creating the Anthropocene (GG1010)

15 Credit Points

This course reflects upon the role humans have played in creating the Anthropocene (the epoch we are now living in), a time period during which human actions have become more significant than natural processes in shaping our world. Drawing primarily upon perspectives from physical and human geography, the nature of the changes, “how did we get here?”, are considered, laying the foundations for GG1512, in which “what comes after?” – how contemporary society is attempting to tackle Anthropocene challenges – is debated.

Introduction to Anthropology: Questions of Diversity (AT1502)

15 Credit Points

In this course students will be offered an extended introduction to social anthropology and will focus on topics: language and culture, belief and religion, gender and sex, kinship, and race. Students will develop and refine their understanding of major issues in the discipline of social anthropology through staff lectures, tutorials, and ethnographic films.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals: Transforming Our World (GG1512)

15 Credit Points

This course interrogates the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. These encompass contemporary global challenges such as responsible consumption and production, no poverty, clean water and climate action (challenges whose emergence is introduced in GG1010 Creating the Anthropocene). Drawing upon Human and Physical Geography perspectives, a ‘strong’ interpretation of sustainability, one where social and economic dimensions fundamentally rely on ecological foundations, underpins the course.

Optional Courses

Select a further 60 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 2

Compulsory Courses

Key Debates in Anthropology (AT2010)

30 Credit Points

This course explores some of the key questions that anthropologists have debated: what it is to be human, the nature of human interaction with other humans, with non-humans, and with the environment, and the different ways that people perceive the world and act within it. Themes that will be discussed in this course include the category of the person, morality and ethics, art and aesthetics, what is power, how to engage with Otherness, and how anthropologists engage actively, outside academia, in development, health, or business.

Space, Economy and Society (GG2014)

15 Credit Points

GG2014 examines political, economic, social and cultural change from a geographical perspective. The course consists of five distinct blocks, each of which introduces a specific sub-field of human geography – economic, urban, tourism, cultural and social geography. As a team-taught course, it makes use of a range of concepts and uses case studies drawn from the staff’s own fields of research. As well as geography, the course is designed to be accessible and relevant to students from other arts and social science disciplines such as anthropology, business, economics, history, international relations and sociology.

Reimagining Colonialism (AT2515)

30 Credit Points

This course will explore contemporary colonial expressions from an anthropological perspective. It will be split into two main themes: Material Histories; and Mediated Histories. Within these themes it will address topics such as the "capturing" of cultures in museums, kinship and politics, gendered colonialism, economic development, media, aboriginal rights and contemporary resistance movements.

Skills and Techniques in Geosciences (GG2508)

15 Credit Points

This course introduces students to a range of scientific and social scientific skills and techniques used in Geography. The course content builds towards a residential field trip that takes place in the Easter vacation. Past venues have included the Isles of Skye and Arran, the cities of Inverness and Stirling, and Aviemore in the Cairngorms National Park. The trips enable students to put into practice the skills and techniques they have been taught through lectures and in workgroup sessions, and to conduct original research into geographical issues covered elsewhere on the programme.

Only available to students registered for programme year 2 of a Geography study aim or to students also taking at least 3 of GG2013, GG2014, GG2509 & GG2510

Optional Courses

Plus select two courses from the following:

  • Physical Environments (GG2013)
  • Environment and Society (GG2509)
  • Mapping and Monitoring the Environment (GG2510)
Physical Environments (GG2013)

15 Credit Points

This course provides an understanding of environmental processes and landscape change through time and space. The course places Physical Geography as an integral component of Earth System Science. The first half of the course explores physical environmental processes, whilst the second focuses on evidence of environmental change across a range of temporal and spatial scales. Three themes of glaciology, hydrology and palaeoecology will be explored to illustrate the linkages and interactions between process and form over a range of temporal and spatial scales. The course is team-taught by staff with an emphasis on using examples from recent research projects.

Environment and Society (GG2509)

15 Credit Points

Interactions between human society and our environment have never been more complex or more critical in order to place us on a pathway to more sustainable future. This course explores the diverse approaches and perspectives that help us think about, explain and address all of the environmental challenges that we face in the 21st century. Students will be introduced to these approaches and perspectives and will have the opportunity to apply them across a range of regional and global environmental issues such as climate change, sustainable tourism, the energy crisis and the ozone hole.

Mapping and Monitoring the Environment (GG2510)

15 Credit Points

In a digital era of GPS navigators and many online map tools (e.g. Google Maps), there is an increase demand for professionals able to understand and manipulate geographical data and use these to monitor processes at various scales. The course provides a solid background in the acquisition of geographical data, both onshore and offshore with classic field-based and remote sensing techniques. It covers the creation and interpretation of maps and looks at the history of remote sensing and its science as well as providing the essential basis to understanding what a Geographical Information System is.

Year 3

Compulsory Courses

Anthropological Theory (AT3027)

30 Credit Points

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.

Approaches to Geography (GG3071)

15 Credit Points

This core course is designed to introduce Honours students to key debates on the nature and scope of academic geography. Geographers past and present have studied a huge variety of phenomena using a variety of tools to investigate their subject. This course will help you understand this diversity. Topics include: the changing meaning of the 'environment'; the use and abuse of statistical analysis; the influence of left-wing and post-modern perspectives, and the role of technology. Students may specialise in particular aspects, or mix-and-match across the breadth of the discipline, as you wish.

Research Design (GG3574)

15 Credit Points

This core course builds on GG2508 to provide an introduction to the conduct of research in the Geosciences at an advanced level. It is intended to familiarise students with the skills necessary to design, implement and write up effective research. These skills will support work on undergraduate dissertations and other project work. The course also introduces careers research skills, and explores how you can best make use of your degree in the 'real world' after graduation: workshops run in partnership with the University's Career Service provide practical advice and training on how best to develop your career.

Optional Courses

Plus select a further 30 credit points from Level 3 Anthropology courses and 30 credit points from Level 3 or 4 Geography courses.

NOTE: Students are advised to take at least one of GG3570 or GG3575 in Programme Year 3

Acceptable Geography courses for Programme Years 3 and 4 are:

  • any Level 3 or 4 GG-coded course
  • any Level 3 or 4 MR-coded course

Students wanting to do one of the Honours field courses (GG3577 or GG3578) must register for these in Programme Year 3. This may entail registering for an extra 15 credits. Note that the trips run in the summer vacation.

Concepts in Human Geography (GG3570)

15 Credit Points

This course provides an opportunity to explore, in depth, the development and application of four important concepts in human geography. Each concept is introduced in a lecture and then discussed in a related tutorial and individual coursework assignment. The course analyses the development and research application of key ideas, and introduces you to contemporary conceptual debate in the discipline. In these ways GG3570 provides an excellent springboard for Senior Honours study. Which concepts are covered will depend on the composition of the teaching team. In recent years they have included: networks; resilience; landscape; and transnational migration.

Techniques in Physical Geography (GG3575)

15 Credit Points

This course provides an introduction to and training in multiple techniques which are used in physical geography. These are directly related to our research strengths in glaciology, hydrology and palaeoecology. This develops skills across a range of techniques which can be subsequently applied to dissertation projects, for advanced 4th year courses and for higher level education. These techniques all represent transferable skills which may be applied in the workplace. There are three field days where data are collected with subsequent lab classes providing instruction on how to analyse and interpret such data.

Society and Nature (AT3522)

15 Credit Points

Through a series of lectures and a mix of tutor and student led tutorials, this course will interrogate the division between society and nature. We will examine where the division came from, how it informs many understandings of humans and the environment, and whether we would be better off disposing of it altogether. Examples of the impact of this construction will be provided but students will be encouraged and expected to seek out their own and to do their own research which will then be brought back to the course through lively tutorial discussions resulting in peer and tutor feedback.

Emotion, Self and Society (AT3526)

15 Credit Points

This course addresses the anthropological study of emotion and self. It covers the different theoretical approaches to emotion, self and subjectivity. The broad questions addressed revolve around the cultural construction of emotion and self, and the entanglement of psychodynamic processes and power in the formation of the subject. The topics covered include anger and fear, grief and compassion, personhood, technologies of self and subjectification, identification and melancholia.

Religion, Power and Belief (AT3534)

15 Credit Points

What is religion? What does ritual do? Does ritual have effects, in the persons performing them, in society, or the world? How might ritual be a means or medium for political action? This course is an ethnographically grounded discussion of how anthropologists have addressed the concept of religion, the interface of religion and power, and is a critical interrogation of the concept of belief.

Montane Environments (GG3577)

15 Credit Points

The fieldtrip explores the physical geography of a montane area, at present the Italian Alps. The course is based around a one week residential field-course located in the shadow of the Mont Blanc massif, supported by taught and student-led sessions on campus. Students have the opportunity to study the processes, forms and management issues characteristic of alpine landscapes: e.g., glacier dynamics and geomorphology, alpine hazards such as avalanches, mountain ecology and the dynamics of alpine rivers. Students complete independent projects, conducted in small groups, on topics they select themselves and which are developed with support from an academic supervisor. This provides the opportunity to develop important research and wider transferable skills.

Human Geography: Honours Field Course (GG3578)

15 Credit Points

The course is based around a one week residential field-course supported by taught and student-led sessions on campus. Students complete independent research projects, conducted in small groups, on topics they select themselves and which are developed with support from an academic supervisor. In previous years project topics have included transport, tourism, immigration, housing, and urban regeneration.

Year 4

Optional Courses

Select one of the following options:

  • Joint Honours Dissertation in Anthropology (AT4047) AND Geographical Issues (GG4537)
  • Geography Dissertation (GG4023)

NOTE: If you choose to take Geography Dissertation (GG 4023), you are not required to take Geographical Issues (GG 4537) but may take both courses if you wish.

Plus, select further credit points from Anthropology Level 4 courses and Geography Level 3 or 4 courses to gain a total of 60 credits in each discipline.

NOTE: You are required to gain a minimum of 90 credit points from level 4 courses.

Joint Honours Dissertation in Anthropology (AT4047)

30 Credit Points

This course is open to joint honours students in anthropology. Having chosen a topic for their study, students will be allocated a supervisor and carry out readings, research and writing under the guidance of their supervisor. Students will write a 10,000-word dissertation based on library research.

Geographical Issues (GG4537)

30 Credit Points

This core, 'capstone' course is designed to develop further students' critical understanding of the contemporary intellectual and real-world contexts in which the academic discipline of geography - and its graduates! - operates. The course involves the preparation of seminar presentations and short papers on a series of issues pertinent to contemporary geography. This work should showcase new philosophies and methodologies; and/or the relationships between geography and other academic disciplines; and/or applications of academic geography to real-world problems. Students also consider how they can best make use of their degree after graduation, with preparation of a reflective, career-planning report.

Geography Dissertation (GG4023)

30 Credit Points

The Honours dissertation provides students with the opportunity to produce a piece of independent and original research on an approved topic. Advanced level knowledge of a sub-area of the discipline is developed through independent study supervised by a member of academic staff. This course is compulsory for any students completing a single Honours degree in Geography and for any joint Honours student who has not registered to complete a dissertation in their other Honours subject.

Roads, Mobility, Movement, Migration (AT4026)

30 Credit Points

In this course students will be introduced to the topical themes in contemporary anthropology: roads, automobility, car cultures, migration, road narratives, and roads in film and literature. The course is based on the notions of movement and mobility and will incorporate the ethnographic material from the North, including Scotland and Siberia. During the course students will conduct their own research on the road of their choice. The course includes: a fieldwork element, screenings of documentary films about roads, and weekly student-led discussions.

Anthropology of the North (AT4044)

30 Credit Points

Through a series of lectures and a mix of tutor and student led tutorials, this course focuses on the sometimes difficult history of anthropology and the circumpolar north. Misconceptions (sometimes intentionally created) about the people who live there and their relationships to the environment have informed both state policy and anthropological theory and now is the time for a new anthropology of the north to set the record straight. Students will be encouraged and expected to do their own research on topics of their own choosing and bring these insights back to the course through lively tutorial discussions.

The Constitutional Imagination (AT4525)

30 Credit Points

This course will examine anthropological theories of the state, political organization and violence. Through an analysis of both modern and historical case studies from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, we will critically examine theories of state of modern and non-modern state formation and organisation, and the nexus of religion and colonial history. In the second half of the course, particular attention will we paid to the ethnography of violence as a mode of state and proto-state political action.

More Than Human (AT4538)

30 Credit Points

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.

The Political Anthropology of Indigenous Rights (AT4547)

30 Credit Points

Indigeneity is one of the more controversial relations created by globalisation. Widely criticised for being ‘essentialist’ and ‘anti-liberal’, it is one of the more quickly growing identities recognized by the United Nations and defended in the constitutions of many nation-states. Using anthropological insight, this course survey the history of the term, study its expansion from the ‘salt-water colonies’ and ‘settler states’ to the heartland of Europe, and explore some of the challenges and advantages of the term. The seminar will explore how the term has come to be used in different post-colonial situations from the classic “heartlands” of indigeneity in North America, Latin America, and Northern Fennoscandia, to new contexts in China, India, Africa. The course will also explore how the politics of aboriginal rights has become closely linked to struggles for recognition, environmentalism, and collective struggles against neo-liberalism. The course is run in a seminar format with students encouraged to weigh and evaluate the results of their reading.

Anthropology and Art: on Place, Landscape and Materials (AT4548)

30 Credit Points

Anthropology and art have much to offer each other. Taking historical and contemporary perspectives, students in this course will debate the cultural significance of art and the nature of creativity. We will focus particularly on questions of place, landscape and materials through a combined art-anthropology approach. The course will use the University of Aberdeen’s own art and ethnographic collections, and we will also work with Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen.

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

Learning Methods

  • Group Projects
  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • Coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course.
  • Practical assessments of the skills and competencies they learn on the course.
  • Written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, years of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study Anthropology and Geography?

  • Anthropology at Aberdeen is ranked 3rd in the UK for overall student satisfaction in the 2022 National Student Survey.
  • An education in anthropology not only furnishes us with knowledge about the world; it also educates our perception of the world, and opens our eyes to other possibilities of being.
  • Your Geography degree provides great flexibility. After all, one of the great things about Geography is that it offers the widest possible curriculum, from studies of inter-cultural relationships, to deep understanding of the earth system.
  • Our joint degrees are taught in this very way, jointly. This is key as our teaching is delivered by the relevant experts in each of the areas of study.

Entry Requirements

Qualifications

The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.


General Entry Requirements

2022 Entry

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

A LEVELS

Standard: BBB

Minimum: BBC

Adjusted: CCC

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see www.abdn.ac.uk/study/articulation for more details.

2023 Entry

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

A LEVELS

Standard: BBB

Minimum: BBC

Adjusted: CCC

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see www.abdn.ac.uk/study/articulation for more details.

The information displayed in this section shows a shortened summary of our entry requirements. For more information, or for full entry requirements for Arts and Social Sciences degrees, see our detailed entry requirements section.


English Language Requirements

To study for an Undergraduate degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.0 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0

TOEFL iBT:

OVERALL - 78 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 59 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 169 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

International Applicants who do not meet the Entry Requirements

The University of Aberdeen International Study Centre offers preparation programmes for international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements for undergraduate study. Discover your foundation pathway here.

Fees and Funding

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

Fee information
Fee category Cost
RUK £9,250
Tuition Fees for 2022/23 Academic Year
EU / International students £19,800
Tuition Fees for 2022/23 Academic Year
Home Students £1,820
Tuition Fees for 2022/23 Academic Year

Scholarships and Funding

Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who pay tuition fees may be eligible for specific scholarships allowing them to receive additional funding. These are designed to provide assistance to help students support themselves during their time at Aberdeen.

Additional Fees

  • 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.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Careers

  • Anthropology and Geography Expert and Consultant.
  • Teaching.
  • GIS Officer.
  • Town Planning.
  • Conservation.

Our Experts

Information About Staff Changes

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.

Discover Uni

Discover Uni draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. You can compare these and other data for different degree programmes in which you are interested.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Address
Student Recruitment & Admissions
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
Aberdeen
AB24 3FX