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Graduate Admissions

Course closed:

Social Anthropology is no longer accepting new applications.

The MRes in Social Anthropology provides training in research methods combined with work on a specific anthropological research project. It is a one-year programme of rigorous training in research issues and methods featuring guidance in and production of a substantial research project proposal, plus a 15,000-word independently researched dissertation (thesis). 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 are allocated a supervisor and faculty advisor in the same way as those registered for the PhD, 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 successful completion of a 7,000–word research proposal portfolio and receiving clearance to proceed to fieldwork from the PhD committee.

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 pass in the MRes. Students wishing to continue to the PhD must also submit a formal application for continuation during their MRes year.

Key Information

12 months full-time

Master of Research

Division of Social Anthropology


Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 3, 2018
Application deadline
July 1, 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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