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Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Department in UK top 5 for research outputs

18 December 2014: Department's quality of research outputs ranked 4th in the UK. Find out more...

Facts and figures


8th in the UK (Complete University Guide 2014)

93% student satisfaction and 93% satisfaction with teaching – well above the national average

UG Applicant/Place Ratio 5:1

Number of Staff: 20 academic, 10 teaching and scholarship (fractional)

MA Anthropology of Travel, Tourism, and Pilgrimage – the only programme of its kind in Europe

MA in Anthropology of Media is the first and still the only programme in Europe that specialises in bringing together contemporary anthropological concerns with media and cultural studies.


Research Outputs ranked 4th in the UK (2014 REF)

SOAS, University of London has been ranked in Europe's top ten universities for Arts and Humanities

We have a lively research community: 50% of our students are registered for postgraduate degrees

Research Centres: Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies and the SOAS Food Studies Centre.

MA Anthropological Research Methods and Nepali is the only Masters-level programme offered anywhere in the world that provides students who intend to proceed to conduct anthropological research (broadly defined) in Nepal with the necessary skills (disciplinary, linguistic, methodological).

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Our strengths

Scholars in Anthropology have an impact on the world outside of academia—on law and government, in the arts and on public media. Our students benefit from the range of experts in Asian, African, and Middle Eastern languages and politics gathered in other departments at SOAS.  Students find a warm, often jolly, but always challenging scholarly home in the Department of Anthropology. Where else could you find an Anthropology library staffed and run by volunteer students?

A lively cohort of anthropologists has recently joined the Department: Dr Catherine Dolan, co-founder of the Centre for New Economies of Development, conducts cutting edge research on the intersections of the economy, commodities, and ethics, bringing new critical perspectives to the “outsourcing” of development. Also bringing an anthropological perspective to commodities and things, Dr Fabio Gygi’s sensitive ethnography among hoarders and declutterers in Japan shows how some people use hoarding, an officially recognized pathology, to insulate themselves from the world outside. In distinct ways the work of Dolan and Gygi demonstrate anthropology’s ability to caste new light on some of the urgent social and political problems of our commodity-filled times.

Dr Lori Allen has also recently joining the Department of Anthropology at SOAS. Her research on human rights and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict examines the political and social effects of a national conflict being taken over by the human rights industry. Her book, The Rise and Fall of Human Rights: Cynicism and Politics in Occupied Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2013), has recently been awarded the Association of Political and Legal Anthropology’s first annual book award. And a fourth recent addition to the Department, Dr Naomi Leite, is leading the way in the study of tourism. Her work engages international tourism as a microcosm for studying cultural consequences of global interconnectivity, particularly among dispersed populations. Her scholarship on “tourism development,” among other issues, tackles the difficult ethical and epistemological issues raised by tourism, and shows why anthropological research on tourism has seen such exponential growth of in recent years.

Our Head of Department says:

David Mosse

Our Department is among the most respected in the field of social and cultural anthropology in the UK. Students can draw on the exceptional regional expertise of SOAS anthropologists while gaining a broad education in the subject, and an irrepressible curiosity about the world. At SOAS, Anthropology is at the heart of the university, one of its largest and most important subjects. It is central to the shared objective of widening horizons, fostering cross-cultural perspectives, challenging taken-for-granted assumptions, and critical engagement with urgent issues.

David Mosse, Professor of Social Anthropology

Forthcoming Events


What makes us unique

SOAS Anthropology is known for its theoretical sophistication, scholarly rigor and creativity. Our teachers and researchers are part of the largest concentration of Africa, Asia, and Middle East specialists in the United Kingdom. We are regularly recognized by our peers-- and people outside of academia-- as major innovators in our field. Some particular areas of interest among faculty and students are: critical approaches to development, tourism, infrastructure, human rights and the United Nations, artisans and craft expertise, the politics of gender and sexuality, entrepreneurialism, neoliberalism, material culture, Islam, politics and religion, history and memory, media theory, and the anthropological study of food.

The Department of Anthropology offers an array of BA degrees, including majors combining Anthropology with everything from African Studies, Law, or Politics, and much in between. The Taught Masters programmes allow you to focus on Anthropology with Development, Tourism, and Food, among other specialisms. And the MA in Anthropological Research Methods offers a pathway to postgraduate research degrees in the discipline. The wide range of course options gives students the chance to follow their curiosities and develop new ones in a creative and unique way, while developing focused expertise and broadly applicable skills.


For further information contact the Arts and Humanities Faculty Office
Telephone +44 (0)20 7898 4020
E-mail: anthropology@soas.ac.uk

News and Honours

 Trevor Marchand Crafting 

Trevor Marchand, Professor of Social Anthropology, received the 2014 Rivers Memorial Medal from the Royal Anthropological Institute, in recognition of his significant contribution to anthropology.

Professor Marchand said: "I am deeply honoured that my work has been recognised by my fellow colleagues and the Royal Anthropological Institute. I like to think that it would have pleased W.H. Rivers (after whom the medal is named) to know that I share his scholarly interests in sensory phenomena, perceptual processes, and mental states. I believe that I also share River's restlessness to pursue new vocations."

Marchand is the author of the award winning book, The Masons of Djenné
(2009) Indiana University Press. (Awarded the AfAA Elliot P. Skinner Prize, the ASA 2010 Melville J. Herskovits Award, and the RAI Amaury Talbot Prize for African Anthropology). He delivered the SOAS inaugural lecture, “The Pursuit of Pleasurable Work: An Anthropology of Craft and Craftspeople.”