skip to content

Graduate Admissions

In view of the COVID-19 public health emergency we may need to make changes to the course details outlined on these pages. Offers holders will be notified of changes. Please see this page for further information.

Course closed:

Social Anthropology is no longer accepting new applications.

This is a demanding course which enables students to reach a fairly high level of specialist knowledge in social anthropology within a relatively short time and, subject to performance in their exams and assessed work, equips them to undertake a research degree. Given that MPhil students are supervised on an individual basis in order to provide a programme of teaching tailored to individual needs, the assignment of supervisors is spread as evenly as possible among the staff attached to the Department.

Principal fields of anthropological analysis are covered in two core seminar courses in 'The Scope of Social Anthropology'. Attendance at these is compulsory for all students. These two courses cover, respectively, 'Production and Reproduction', which includes the fields of economic anthropology and kinship studies; and 'Systems of Power and Knowledge', which includes political anthropology and the anthropology of religion. 

Students also take a non-assessed course in theory and methods and one course in a specialist option subject.   Options available for 2020-21 are expected to include: Anthropology and Development, Science and Society, Gender, Kinship and Care and Social Anthropology and Museums. Please see the Department website for confirmation of options running in 2020-21 and further details of the courses.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

The course addresses key problems in anthropological theory, interpretation, comparison and analysis in relation to particular ethnographies and substantive debates in the anthropological literature. Through critical reflection on a range of anthropological theories, and through practice in the application of those theories to bodies of ethnographic data, students acquire a thorough and intensive grounding in a range of styles of social anthropological analysis.

Practical and transferable skills

The General course offers training in the following transferable skills:

  1. ability to engage with and undertake critical analysis of complex issues;
  2. ability to engage constructively in discussion in groups in which many different views are held, often passionately;
  3. ability to present an argument in clear and convincing terms both orally and in writing; and
  4. ability to design and undertake hands-on research. This includes training in:
    1. archival review of literature;
    2. ethnographic research methods;
    3. analysis of results; and
    4.  skills in research proposal preparation and presentation.

Students are also encouraged to use the range of training and developmental opportunities available across the University, including training on research methods through the SSRMC, careers advice through the Cambridge University Careers Service and language learning through the Language Centre, including Academic English.

Museum Option students are expected to:

  1. develop a comparative understanding of the history and contemporary roles of museums;
  2. examine different ways that specific objects are produced, circulated, interpreted and displayed;
  3. critically compare theoretical approaches to the study of material culture, art, materiality, and the relationship between persons and things;
  4. develop skills in artefact-based analysis as a key component of anthropological research; and
  5. obtain transferable museum skills through practical work experience.‚Äč


Continuation to the MRes or PhD is usually subject to the following:

  • Acceptance of an application for continuation by the MRes and PhD Committee
  • An overall mark of at least 73 in the MPhil is normally required for continuation to the MRes or PhD

Applicants intending to continue to the MRes or PhD programme should state so in their statement of purpose, however, acceptance for the MPhil does not guarantee that you will be accepted for continuation.

Open Days

The University of Cambridge will be hosting its Cambridge Postgraduate Open Day on Friday 1 November 2019. Visit the Postgraduate Open Day page for more details and details of how to register for the day. Further details about the Department's activities during the Open Day will be added to the Social Anthropology website in due course.

Key Information

11 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Department of Social Anthropology


Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 2, 2019
Application deadline
April 30, 2020
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2020

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Graduate Funding Competition
Jan. 7, 2020
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 14, 2019

Similar Courses