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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 PhD course 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. It includes intensive fieldwork training in the first year, a research period of 12 to 18 months, and a further year for writing the thesis (a maximum of four years is allowed in total). Students work with the main Supervisor and a Faculty Advisor, who acts as a source of supplementary advice.

 The PhD course begins with nine months of training in research issues and methods, culminating in the writing and submission of a fieldwork proposal.  PhD students doing the pre-fieldwork course can expect to leave for field research at the end of their third term (June–July), subject to passing the fieldwork clearance interview.

Students then usually undertake 12–18 months of ethnographic fieldwork. 

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 fieldwork, writing-up students are expected to attend the following seminars during term-time:

  • The PhD Writing-Up Seminar
  • The Senior Research Seminar
  • The Senior Research Seminar Analysis Session

Opportunities are also available for teaching practice for senior PhD students.


All first-year PhD students are admitted on a probationary basis. Successful completion of three research training papers, a 7,000-word fieldwork proposal and a fieldwork clearance interview with the PhD Committee are necessary for the Archaeology, Anthropology and Sociology Degree Committee to consider recommending that you be registered for the PhD degree.

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.

Further details about the Department's activities during the Open Day will be added to the Social Anthropology website in due course.

Key Information

4 years full-time

Doctor 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

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