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Department of Anthropology and Sociology

MA Anthropology of Travel and Tourism

Duration: 1 year full-time or 2-3 years part-time.

Overview

Minimum Entry Requirements: Upper second class honours degree (or equivalent, e.g. 3.3 GPA or higher); other strong qualifications may be taken into account.

Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

Who is this programme for?:

The degree is suitable for students with an interest in anthropological approaches to diverse aspects of tourism as a cultural force in the contemporary world, from sustainable development to cultural heritage. Our students come from all over the world, following BA study, a masters degree in another field, or work and travel experience. This combination of diverse backgrounds and skills creates a uniquely stimulating intellectual environment. Many of our graduates go on to a PhD; others pursue careers in research and consulting; NGOs; museums and other cultural institutions; travel-writing; alternative tourism enterprises; and government agencies.

Programme Overview

The SOAS MA Anthropology of Travel and Tourism enables students to pursue specialist interests in global voluntary mobility while gaining advanced training in social and cultural anthropology in a world-leading department. Combining a rigorous set of core courses with options to suit each student’s unique interests, the programme is designed to accommodate students with or without a prior degree in Social Anthropology. 

Students will develop expertise in anthropological theory and practice; learn to undertake ethnographic research; and gain comprehensive grounding in the anthropological study of travel and tourism, including issues of development, political economy, cultural change, heritage, cross-cultural encounter, representation and meaning, space and place, commodification, and interconnections between diverse histories and cultures of travel worldwide.

Tourism is not only a culturally and historically shaped form of travel, but a complex social field that spans the globe, comprised of diverse actors, institutions, activities, and modes of interaction that overlap with and cross-cross other forms of global interconnection. As a whole, it comprises the world's largest industry and the single greatest peacetime factor moving people around the globe.

Both a manifestation and a medium of globalisation, tourism has profound significance in multiple realms of human life—economic, environmental, material, social, and cultural. This makes it an ideal lens through which to explore core themes in contemporary social anthropology, such as identity and alterity, political economy, development, heritage, locality, representation, imagination, commodification, and the global circulation of people, objects, ideas, images, and capital.

The MA programme draws upon:

  • the emerging body of theoretically sophisticated, ethnographically rich work involving tourism and travel;
  • a thorough grounding in the history and contemporary theoretical trends of social-cultural anthropology;
  • other areas of expertise in the Department of Anthropology, including anthropology of development, migration and diaspora, museums and material culture, anthropology of food, global religious movements, anthropology of media, human rights, and anthropology of globalisation;
  • the unparalleled concentration of area expertise among SOAS' academic staff, covering Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, together with their diasporas;
  • the opportunity to engage with numerous other units at SOAS, such as the Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies, the Food Studies Centre, and the Centre for Media Studies, among many others; and
  • the vibrant intellectual and cultural life of the School, the University of London, and the city of London itself—a global tourist destination inviting study on a daily basis.
Prospective students are encouraged to contact the Director of Studies, Dr Naomi Leite, at an early stage of their application in order to seek advice on the most appropriate options for study. 

Language Study

Beginning in 2016-27, the MA programme will also be available as a 2- or 4-year (full- or part-time) MA Anthropology of Travel and Tourism with Intensive Study of Arabic, Japanese, or Korean (other languages likely to be added). For information, contact Director of Studies Dr Naomi Leite.

All SOAS MA students, regardless of department or degree, are entitled to register for one language course for free through our Language Entitlement Programme (LEP). This course is additional to your regular syllabus and is not for credit. Languages normally available include Arabic, Chinese, French, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu. Others are often offered. You must sign up before instruction begins and space fills quickly. Learn more and reserve your place here: Language Entitlement Programme

Email: nl15@soas.ac.uk

Structure

Programme Structure

The SOAS MA in the Anthropology of Travel and Tourism is designed to offer students a chance to pursue specialist interests via a considered selection of courses to suit their individual needs. It provides:

  1. a broad-based MA programme for students with some background in issues of tourism/travel who wish to enhance their knowledge in light of contemporary anthropological research. 
  2. a special-interest MA which will enable students to study topics involving tourism/travel in-depth, in relation to a specific theoretical approach or region.

The programme consists of four units, comprised of a combination of full-year (1 unit) and half-year (.5 unit) courses.

Core Courses:
Foundation Course:
Option Courses:
  • Students choose their remaining unit (or two units if exempted from Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology) from the Options course list. Contact the Director of Studies for a list of currently preapproved options.
  • Popular options for the MA Anthropology of Travel and Tourism include Perspectives on Development, African and Asian Diasporas in the Modern WorldAnthropology of GlobalisationIssues in the Anthropology of FilmIssues in the Anthropology of Gender, and any of our courses on culture and society of different world regions. While these are common options, they are not required, and students are encouraged to locate courses both within and outside the department that speak to their interests.
  • A language course taken for credit in the Faculty of Languages and Cultures may also be included. 
  • As each student's interests are unique, other relevant courses at SOAS may be selected under guidance from the Director of Studies and subject to approval. 
  • Courses without a "15PANxxxx" course code are taught outside of the Anthropology Department. No more than 1 unit in total of these courses may be selected.
  • Your 1 or 2 total units may be made up of any combination of 0.5 or 1 unit option courses.
Evening Colloquium Series:
  • The programme also includes the biweekly Colloquium Series in the Anthropology of Tourism and Travel, with visiting speakers -- noted and rising scholars in the anthropology and sociology of tourism, many of them coming from outside the UK -- who present their current research and discuss it at length with the group.

Language Entitlement Programme:

  • Many students choose to pursue language study through the SOAS Language Entitlement Programme (LEP). Languages normally available include Arabic, Chinese, French, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu. Others may also be offered.

Programme Detail

Compulsory Elements:
Foundation Course:
Option Courses:
Department of Anthropology
Courses in other departments

A wide range of courses can be approved for the degree on a case-by-case basis. All students should meet with the programme convenor before selecting courses.

Language Study

Students may choose to study any language offered at SOAS that is normally available to students taking one of the taught masters programs.

Disclaimer

Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

The learning environments making up the MA programme in Anthropology of Travel and Tourism run the gamut from lecture halls to intimate seminar rooms, suiting a wide range of learning styles. Study a language; take a course (or two) in anthropology of human rights, development, globalisation, religion, or gender, among many others; choose a course in another department that catches your interest and contributes to your dissertation plans, from world music to development studies.

The academic staff in the Department of Anthropology are dynamic, experienced teachers who are widely recognised for their expertise and enjoy working directly with students. Renowned scholars from other institutions also come to share their knowledge: nearly every day of the week, the SOAS Anthropology Department has a public lecture series running, including series in the general Social Anthropology, Anthropology of Food, Migration and Diaspora Studies, and, of course, Anthropology of Tourism and Travel. 

In addition to these formal settings for learning, our students also learn from one another. Hailing from around the globe and bringing diverse life experiences to bear on their studies, all MA students in the Department of Anthropology can take courses together, making it a rich environment for intellectual exchange. Students also benefit from campus-wide programmes, clubs, study groups, and performances.

Many students in the MA Anthropology of Travel and Tourism opt for hands-on learning via the half-unit Directed Practical Study in Anthropology of Tourism course, with placements in leading UK-based NGOs like Equality in Tourism and Tourism Concern, among others, as well as in private tour operator firms, providing background material for future research.

While students in the MA Anthropology of Travel and Tourism may take a language course for credit, all SOAS MA students, regardless of department or degree, are also entitled to register for non-credit free courses in a single language through the Language Entitlement Programme (LEP). Languages normally available include Arabic, Chinese, French, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu. Others may also be offered. 

Pre Entry Reading

All incoming students will be expected to have read at least two of the following. These are paperbacks written for newcomers to the discipline, widely available used online and relatively affordable to purchase new.

Introducing anthropology:

* Erikson, Thomas Hylland. What is Anthropology? Pluto Press, 2004.

* Hendry, Joy and Simon Underdown. Anthropology: A Beginner's Guide. Oneworld, 2012.

* Erikson, Thomas Hylland. Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology, 4th edPluto Press, 2015. (*3rd edition also ok)

* Hendry, Joy. An Introduction to Social Anthropology: Sharing Our Worlds. Palgrave, 2008.

Further readings in anthropological theory and method:

* Agar, Michael. The Professional Stranger: An Informal Introduction to Ethnography, 2nd edEmerald Group Publishing, 2008.

* Gay y Blasco, Paloma and Huon Wardle. How to Read EthnographyRoutledge, 2006.

* Rapport, Nigel and Joanna Overing. Social and Cultural Anthropology: The Key Concepts, 3rd ed. Routledge, 2015. (*2nd edition also ok)

Destinations

Please see our Alumni Profiles.

For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.

A Student's Perspective

I was nervous about the prospect of getting back into higher education. But staff and students alike have made the transition a really easy process for me; SOAS feels like home, after only 4 months of study here.

Mia Barrow-Sullivan