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Graduate Admissions

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 dissertation (a maximum of four years is allowed in total). Students work with a 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 research proposal.  PhD students doing the pre-fieldwork course,  can expect to leave for field research at the end of their third term (June–July). 

The taught element of this course consists of these compulsory components:

  • The Pre-Fieldwork seminar
  • The Ethnographic Methods course, Parts I (Michaelmas) and II (Lent)
  • Statistics for Social Anthropologists (workshop in Michaelmas term)

You are also strongly encouraged to attend other optional elements:

  • The "Experiences from the Field" seminar, run by writing-up students recently returned from the field
  • Ad hoc sessions in transferable skills or anthropological method, such as journal publication, technologies of research and data management and film-making
  • Senior Research Seminar, scheduled for Fridays during term time

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 research proposal and a fieldwork clearance interview with the PhD Committee are necessary for the Degree Committee to consider recommending that you be registered for the PhD degree.

Key Information

4 years full-time

Doctor of Philosophy

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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