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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.

The MRes in Social Anthropology is intended for students who already have full training at undergraduate and/or Master's level in the methods and perspectives of Social/Cultural Anthropology.

The course is a one-year period of rigorous training in research issues and methods that leads to the production of an independently-researched 15,000 word dissertation (dissertation) and a substantial fieldwork proposal.  The taught portion of the MRes programme is the same as the nine-month PhD pre-fieldwork training programme: students take the same courses in ethnographic methods and social theory, and receive the same close interaction with their supervisor, a senior member of department staff. There is also training in quantitative social science methods.

The course offers critical discussion of students' research projects and provides training in:

  • how fieldwork contributes to social scientific knowledge;
  • how to isolate the theoretical questions that inform particular pieces of ethnography; and
  • how to identify the kinds of empirical evidence necessary to address those questions.

Students work with a main Supervisor and a Faculty Advisor, who acts as a source of supplementary advice,  and will normally continue with this Supervisor throughout their PhD.

Additional information for those continuing to the PhD

Students continuing to the PhD will then normally undertake 12–18 months of ethnographic fieldwork subject to the successful completion of a 7,000–word fieldwork proposal and fieldwork clearance interview with the PhD committee.  Students would usually leave for field research at the start of their first term of the PhD (October/November).

On return to Cambridge, students devote the remainder of their research time to writing their PhD dissertation in close consultation with their Supervisor.

Upon return from the field, writing-up students are also expected to attend the following seminars during term-time:

  • The PhD Writing-Up Seminar
  • The Senior Research Seminar
  • The Senior Research Seminar analysis session

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course students should have:

  1. developed a deeper general knowledge of the comparative, theoretical and epistemological issues underlying contemporary social anthropological research and, where relevant to proposed doctoral research, developed a deeper knowledge of a specific geographical and/or topical area of anthropology and of the critical debates within it;
  2. developed a knowledge of a range of current methods, methodologies and research findings and a conceptual understanding that enables their proper deployment and evaluation; and
  3. where relevant, advanced own plans for field research and undertaken field preparation with reference to both the overall aims of the course and the specific social, ethical and other practical matters relating to their chosen field.


Continuation to the PhD is normally subject to achieving a High Pass (a mark of at least 70) in the MRes. Students wishing to continue to the PhD must also submit a formal application for continuation during their MRes year.

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 for 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

12 months full-time

Master of Research

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

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