Undergraduate study - 2019 entry

Subject area: Social Anthropology

Why choose Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh?

  • We're ranked in Europe's top 10 universities for anthropology in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018.

  • You will bring theory to life by carrying out your own research and fieldwork, in the UK or abroad, and spending up to four months on an individual research project that will form the basis of your dissertation in Year 4.

  • You will be able to choose from a wide range of courses covering regional specialisations from Africa to Latin America, and thematic specialisations such as happiness, urban anthropology, the invention of history, or anthropology of food.

Study abroad

Studying social anthropology has made me a lot more open-minded and aware of different perspectives. Being understanding of others’ views will be a valuable trait for any future career, especially in a diverse society like the UK.

Ema Kosova 1st year MA (Hons) Social Anthropology
Ema Kosova 1st year MA (Hons) Social Anthropology

Social anthropology is the study of human conduct and thought. Societies around the world vary enormously socially, culturally and politically.

The study of these variations, and the common humanity that underlies them, is at the heart of social anthropology.

There are close links between social anthropology and sociology, human geography, development studies, history, archaeology, and philosophy.

You will take a broad range of courses in Year 1 and 2 and will have the opportunity to specialise in Years 3 and 4.

You will spend up to four months on an individual research project that will form the basis of your dissertation. Fieldwork for your project can be done both within and outside the UK.

Year 1

Year 1 provides you with a broad introduction to the subject. You will study Social Anthropology 1A and 1B, Fundamentals: Studying Anthropology and Fundamentals: Anthropological Practice. You will choose two to four option courses.

Year 2

You will study Social Anthropology 2: Key Concepts, Ethnography: Theory and Practice, Fundamentals: Ethnographic Theory, and Fundamentals: Reading and Writing Anthropology. You will also choose between two and four additional courses, either related to your programme or from another academic area.

Year 3

You will study compulsory courses including: Anthropological Theory, Kinship, Ritual & Religion, and Consumption, Exchange & Technology.

You will also choose two courses from a range, such as Happiness: Cross-cultural Perspectives, Urban Anthropology, the Anthropology of Africa and Latin American Anthropology.

You will also have the opportunity to conduct your own research in the summer break between Years 3 and 4. Your dissertation supervisor will help you to plan and develop your research project which can take place in the UK or overseas.

Year 4

You will study the compulsory course Culture & Power. You will also use your research findings to complete an honours dissertation, and continue to choose option courses.

Are there additional costs?

Fieldwork may be required, depending on your choice of dissertation topic. There may be some additional costs associated with this fieldwork.

Our facilities

Most of the teaching takes place at facilities located within the University's Central Area. You will also have access to the University library and computer facilities.

Study abroad

In addition to your research project, which may be based overseas, there are opportunities to study abroad through the University's international exchange programme.

How will I learn?

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials and will receive supervision with your research project.

How will I be assessed?

The course is assessed through exams, coursework, and project work.

Previous graduates have chosen careers in social development, healthcare, journalism and film. Others have gained employment as museum curators, or with international organisations such as Oxfam.

A growing number choose to continue with postgraduate study in anthropology, leading to careers as anthropological researchers with universities, public bodies such as the NHS, or private sector companies.