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Graduate Admissions

Course closed:

Social Anthropology is no longer accepting new applications.


Teaching for the MPhil is via introductory sessions, seminars, lectures and individual supervision. It is centred around four seminars (Kinship/Gender, Politics, Economics and Religion) that constitute the principal teaching under the headings 'Production and Reproduction' (Paper 1) and 'Systems of Power and Knowledge' (Paper 2). Those who are pursuing one of the professional options are expected to attend and take an active part in the above core seminars as well. 

In addition to these seminars, the Department requires all MPhil students to attend the Part IIA lecturers for Papers SAN2 and SAN3, plus one other optional paper to be chosen by the student during the first week of Michaelmas term. Students are not expected to confine themselves exclusively to these lectures, and are encouraged to attend any lectures they find interesting. The Department also offers a separate fieldwork research methodology course.

Each student will be supervised by a member of staff who can provide general guidance throughout the course. Students will generally meet their respective supervisors fortnightly and they will be expected to write essays. Supervisions provide an opportunity for them to discuss these essays and to raise wider questions on a one-to-one basis.

One to one supervision

Approximately ten hours per year, typically three one-hour meetings per term.

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision.

Seminars & classes

48 hours per year


60 hours per year


Each student is expected to write six essays for supervision in Michaelmas and Lent terms. The supervisor usually makes written comments on the essays and discusses them in supervision sessions. These essays are not given an official mark or grade and do not constitute part of a student's degree result. These essays will help students develop the skills of anthropological analysis and are a key means for students and supervisors to monitor progress over the year.

A student is also expected to write one assessed set essay and one dissertation over the year on which they will receive written feedback from the assessors.

Supervisors submit online progress reports at the end of each term via Cambridge Graduate Supervision Reporting System (CGSRS).



A dissertation of not more than 13,000 words, including title page and footnotes, but excluding synopsis, tables, appendices, and bibliography on a subject approved by the Archaeology, Anthropology and Sociology Degree Committee, which must not overlap with the subject of any assessed essay offered by the candidate.  

An oral examination may be held if a candidate is in danger of failing, or  to decide about a borderline grade. If needed this would take place in late September

The dissertation counts for 40 per cent of the total marks.


An independently-written, analytical essay  of not more than 6,000 words, including title page and and footnotes, but excluding figures, tables, appendices and bibliography, on a subject chosen by the candidate from a list published each year by the Department and related to the optional paper they are taking.

The subject of the essay must not overlap the subject of the dissertation. 

This essay counts for 20 per cent of the total marks.

Written examination

Students sit a three-hour written examination for each of the following papers:

  1. Paper 1 The Scope of Social Anthropology I: Production and Reproduction
  2. Paper 2 The Scope of Social Anthropology II: Systems of Power and Knowledge.

Each exam paper counts for 20 per cent of the total marks.

Key Information

11 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Division of Social Anthropology


Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 3, 2018
Application deadline
April 26, 2019
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2019

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

Graduate Funding Competition
Jan. 3, 2019
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 10, 2018

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