Postgraduate study

Social Anthropology PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Social Anthropology

Our Social Anthropology group forms an international centre of excellence for postgraduate training, recognised as one of the premier research departments in the UK.

Edinburgh’s Social Anthropology department is among the largest in the UK, and our research interests are correspondingly diverse.

Our research is global in scope and includes core themes in:

  • health and wellbeing
  • religion and society
  • migration and refugee studies
  • science and technology
  • the anthropology of kinship
  • peace and conflict studies
  • anthropology and the arts
  • media anthropology
  • cultural heritage
  • international development
  • human-animal relations
  • the anthropology of design

Our work generally combines a traditional anthropological emphasis on ethnographic fieldwork with a focus on contemporary issues.

We welcome interdisciplinary research and are home to the Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology (EdCMA), and numerous collaborations with the Edinburgh College of Art, including the Atelier Network.

We also work closely with the Centre for African Studies (CAS), particularly with research on international development.

Usually undertaken full-time over three years, or part-time over six years, the PhD in Social Anthropology is a research degree in which you will make an original contribution to our knowledge by pursuing an extended and focused piece of research on a topic of your interest.

The programme is supported by the Graduate School of Social and Political Science, which enables you to acquire a broader set of transferable skills during your time with us.

The PhD programme combines work on your thesis project, usually based on long-term fieldwork, with systematic training in anthropological and social research skills.

A wide range of training facilities are available to PhD students. The Graduate School provides a range of ESRC-recognised research training courses for social science students across the University. You are encouraged to participate in taught Masters level courses to assist your intellectual development and support you research.

The University’s Institute for Academic Development provides a range of courses and events to assist with methodological training and career development. *Institute for Academic Development

Research library and archive facilities in Edinburgh are outstanding.

You will be a member of the Graduate School of Social & Political Science, with full access to the Graduate School’s facilities in the Chrystal Macmillan Building.

Other library and archive facilities include the University’s Main Library, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Records Office. Proximity to the Scottish Parliament and other institutions of national government provides further research opportunities.

These entry requirements are for the 2022/23 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2023/24 academic year will be published on 3 October 2022.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent, and a UK masters degree with an overall mark of 65% or its international equivalent.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

(*Revised 17 November 2021 to add accepted PTE Academic qualifications.)

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

Featured funding

For specialised guidance on submitting a competitive scholarship application, we strongly recommend you contact the Postgraduate Advisor for your Subject Area.

You should advise which scholarships you intend to apply for and send your draft research proposal. The Postgraduate Advisor will then contact you with guidance.

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit a research proposal demonstrating your knowledge of your field of research, which will be closely scrutinised as part of the decision-making process. We request that PhD research proposals are no more than four A4 typed pages in Times New Roman, 12pt font. This includes charts and figures but does not include references or a bibliography.

We require PhD applicants in particular to contact potential supervisors before applying to discuss their research proposal so we can ensure there is adequate supervision.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD