Anthropology and History, MA

Anthropology and History, MA

Introduction

Anthropology and History at Aberdeen is a perfect subject match, combining a thorough grounding in what it means to ‘be human’ with a fascinating journey through human activity in the past. The University of Aberdeen is steeped in 500 years of national and international history and has a strong local heritage and tradition. Combined with strong northern identity, Aberdeen is the perfect place to give you a great breadth of skills likely to appeal to employers in all sectors.

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
LV61
Pathway Programme Available
Undergraduate Foundation Programme

Anthropology will give you a thorough grounding in humanity, the differences in human cultures and communities and how they have developed. You will gain insights into behaviours, beliefs and attitudes all over the world, and find connections between aspects of life such as family, economics, politics and religions.

Combining this insight with detailed study of human activity and events through the centuries will give you unique insight and skills to apply to the challenges and opportunities of the modern day.

In History, you will learn in buildings centuries old, yet with the most modern teaching and technology. You will be inspired by teachers who are leaders in their fields, with expertise as diverse as medieval Scandinavia, early-modern Poland and modern East Asia.

You will thrive among our historic treasures: manuscripts, books and museum exhibits collected by distinguished alumni, thinkers and explorers over 500 year, in collections accredited as nationally significant, and of international importance.

The skills you will gain from this subject combination will give you career options covering almost every field including business, politics, education, public sector, media, NGOs and arts and heritage.

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 explores ways of life in societies and cultures around the world. Through fieldwork in the places people live, anthropologists connect global issues with everyday lives. In this course you’ll learn about the key topics of anthropology and its research methods. Lectures introduce anthropological research topics such as ritual, climate change and indigenous rights. Small group tutorials will allow you to debate the issues and share your perspectives.

Making History (HI1027)

15 Credit Points

This course will introduce students to the subject of university level history. Team taught lectures will introduce students to approaches, sources, and the dilemmas facing academic historians.

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.

Optional Courses

Select a further 30 credit points from Level 1 courses in History or Art History.

Plus, 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 and with other species, the role language plays in thought and culture, and the different ways that people perceive the world and act within it. Themes that will be discussed in this course include rationality, language, species difference, race, and place and community.

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.

Optional Courses

Select a further 60 credit points from available Level 2 courses in History.

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.

Thinking History (HI356J)

30 Credit Points

This course looks at how history is written. It considers the problems involved in studying and explaining the past, and the many dilemmas faced by historians in reconstructing it. By examining the ways in which history has been written from the Ancient Greeks to Postmodernism, it considers the limits of historical study, asks whether history can ever be a science, and reveals the assumptions behind the various approaches to history that inform its writing. It is designed to provide honours history students with an essential understanding of what they are doing when they study history.

Optional Courses

Select TWO courses from the following:

  • Society & Nature (AT3522)
  • Emotion, Self and Society (AT3526)
  • Religion, Power and Belief (AT3534)

Also, select 30 credit points from Level 3 courses in History OR ONE of the following approved courses.

Materialising Faith: Women, Art and Religion, 1150 - 1500 (AH3003)

30 Credit Points

From Hildegard of Bingen to Isabella D’Este, women played a defining role in the commissioning, making and experiencing of devotional art and architecture. This course explores the opportunities nuns, sisters, mystics, wives and widows had to express their faith, status and power by material means. Equally it focuses on the way in which such devotional works could shape women’s visions and modes of contemplation. Case studies are drawn from across Europe, with a primary focus on Italy and Germany during the period 1150-1500.

Reformation, Reason & Revolt: Church, Politics & Theology (DR302D)

30 Credit Points

The European Reformation was a time of immense ecclesiastical, social, intellectual and political transformation that changed the religious and cultural landscape of the West forever. By way of regular seminars, this course draws students into detailed exploration of critical events, developments, ideas and debates of this tumultuous period in history to consider the nature of the transformations which it bequeathed to subsequent centuries up to and including our own.

History of Medicine (ME33HM)

30 Credit Points

The course will involve each student working individually on a historical project of his or her own choice, under the supervision of the course co-ordinator.

Students will be required to produce a research proposal and progress reports, to prepare an essay and make a presentation of their findings to the class. The aim of the option is to give students the opportunity to research and present, individually, in spoken and written forms, a history of medicine topic of their own choice, using both primary and secondary sources.

The Twelfth - Century Renaissance (AH3505)

30 Credit Points

The twelfth century was a period defined by upheaval and innovation, when ancient learning and new ideas combined to transform European society across the continent. This course explores the artistic dimension to cultural, social, and political change, and brings marginalised communities into focus. We will draw on a range of sources, including manuscripts, architecture, stained glass and metalwork to understand a range of lived experiences, from isolated monks to Jewish communities.

Art & Society in 18th Century England (HA3512)

30 Credit Points

This course examines English art across the eighteenth century, addressing a range of genres, from portraiture and historical narratives, to sporting art and political satires. We consider where and how such art was encountered, in public exhibitions, private homes, pleasure gardens and shop windows. Artists studied include William Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough, James Gillray and Anglica Kauffman.

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.

Year 4

Optional Courses

Select ONE of the following dissertation options:

  • Dissertation in History (HI4516)
  • Joint Honours Dissertation in Anthropology (AT4047) AND History in Practice II (HI4518)

Plus, select TWO courses from the following:

  • Roads, Mobility, Movement, Migration (AT4026)
  • Anthropology of the North (AT4044)
  • The Constitutional Imagination (AT4525)
  • More Than Human (AT4538)
  • The Political Anthropology of Indigenous Rights (AT4547)
  • Anthropology of Museums and Society (AT403A)

Also, select ONE Special Subject listed below and further credit points from level 4 course(s) in Anthropology and History to gain a total of 60 credits in each discipline.

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.

History in Practice (HI4518)

30 Credit Points

History is not simply a dry, academic study of the past; it shapes a host of contemporary political, economic and cultural attitudes and is a central underpinning to the tourist and heritage industries - now one of the largest sectors of employment among mature western economies. This course is designed to give a critical understanding of the theoretical and practical links (as well as clear distinctions) between the practice of 'academic' History and 'public' History. This is done by having students assess how heritage and tourist businesses project a particular version of the past.

Undergraduate Dissertation in History (HI4516)

30 Credit Points

The undergraduate dissertation is the final-year major research undertaking, based on primary and secondary material and providing a critical analysis of a specific subject chosen by the student. It is obligatory for Single Honours students, whereas Joint Honours students choose to write their dissertation in either of the two subjects. After initial sessions about the nature of the dissertation and research approaches, students develop a topic with the help of a member of staff, who will also supervise their project throughout.

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 of interest in how the social sciences and humanities understand animals, plants, and other organisms. We examine these cutting-edge ideas in depth. We do this by relating classic and recent literature to think through real life encounters and issues, from a walk in the park to things we buy in the shops. 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, Museums and Society (AT403A)

30 Credit Points

This course examines museums as sites for the production and dissemination of anthropological knowledge. Through seminars, museum visits, and access to the resources of the University’s Museums and Special Collections, students will consider the legacies of historic collecting practices and the challenges of ethically engaging with collections in the present. Students will gain experience of conducting research in a museum environment, learn about the limits of material culture as an anthropological data source, and engage with theoretical and methodological frameworks for working with collections. They will also become familiar with how museums are taking on contemporary challenges, such decolonisation, climate change, funding crises, etc. Assessment is based on an Artefact Study Portfolio, and an essay in which students reflect upon the themes of the course as a whole.

Special Sub.: the Scottish Wars of Independence, 1286 - 1328 (HI4009)

30 Credit Points

In 1286 Alexander III of Scotland was found dead at the foot of a cliff and Scotland was engulfed in a period of political instability and eventually war that was to have a profound impact on the future development of the British Isles. The course considers key stages of the ‘wars of independence’ period in chronological sequence until the final triumph of Robert I in 1328. Due consideration will be given to international perspectives in trying to understand the Anglo-Scottish struggle, notably in relation to Ireland, France, Flanders and the Papacy.

Special Sub.: Britain and Revolutionary Russia 1917 - 1924 (HI4012)

30 Credit Points

This course explores Britain's relations with Russia during the early years of the Soviet regime. It highlights a series of key developments in the relationship, especially major changes in British government policy that charted a course from military intervention to diplomatic recognition. Most of the seminars trace an aspect of the relationship within a fairly short time-frame, but some seminars investigate a particular issue through the whole period 1917–24. Several sessions will be used specifically for analysing gobbets. Knowledge of the Russian language is not required.

Special Subject: Morality & Sexual Mores in the Classical World (HI401C)

30 Credit Points

The modern West relies heavily on the Classical World in its art, architecture, law, and ideas. However, this is often filtered through later, Christian re-working. This course will try to understand the morals and mores of the Ancient World in their own, pagan context through an examination of its views, in particular, on sex and sexuality. The course will deal with sensitive topics including: sexual violence, prostitution, perceived concepts of deviance, capital punishment and the (mis)treatment of children.

Special Subject: History of the Israeli Palestinian Conflict (HI4025)

30 Credit Points

The course examines the origins of the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and its developments from multiple angles in order to provide a comprehensive understanding of the complex dynamic that constitutes ‘the conflict’. The course will investigate the causes of the Palestinian refugee crisis and of the Arab-Israeli wars. It will introduce students to the Arab-Israeli peace process and familiarise students with the polarised historiography surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Special Subject: Atlantic Encounters: Western Africa and Portugal (HI405W)

30 Credit Points

This course explores the relations between Portugal and Western Africa in the early modern period. It focuses on the period from 1415 to 1670 in which Portugal became the first European maritime power to establish contacts with societies in West and West Central Africa. Key themes include maritime navigation, Afro-European trade, and cultural contact. Particular focus will be placed on African responses and indigenous perspectives on European cultural contact.

Special Subject: the Black Radical Tradition (HI406C)

30 Credit Points

'The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.’ So declared African American intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois at the dawn of that era.

In the period since this influential claim was made – and indeed in our own time – Black-led movements have challenged multiple structures of domination (racism, colonialism, patriarchy, capitalism) in the Americas, Africa, and Europe. This module focuses on the intellectual history of these transformative movements using the framework of a “Black Radical Tradition”.

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

  • Individual Projects
  • Research
  • Seminars
  • 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 History?

  • Aberdeen is one of the fastest-growing Anthropology departments in the UK.
  • Anthropology at Aberdeen is ranked 3rd in the UK for overall student satisfaction in the 2022 National Student Survey.
  • Our core staff specialise in regions as diverse as Canada, the Central Asian Republics, Iceland and Scandinavia, Siberia, Scotland and the UK, South America, Tibet and the Himalayas.
  • We offer innovative ideas and a fresh vision of the subject, with an emphasis throughout on work at the cutting-edge of the discipline and research.
  • A vibrant student anthropology society regularly organises academic and social events bringing together undergraduate and postgraduate students with staff outside the classroom.
  • Aberdeen boasts one of the oldest and also one of the most innovative, History departments in the United Kingdom.
  • Geographically, course offerings spread out from Scotland and Europe to encompass America, Asia and Africa.
  • Chronologically, students are offered a coherent series of courses ranging from the Ancient World to the present day.

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

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.

2024 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 achieve BB over S4 and S5 and who meet one of the widening access criteria are guaranteed a conditional offer. 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 2024/25 Academic Year
EU / International students £20,800
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year
Home Students £1,820
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 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

  • Social and Historical Research
  • International Development
  • Consultant or Academic Researcher
  • Museum and Gallery Curator

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.

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Get in Touch

Contact Details

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

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