MA Anthropology of Food
Duration: One calendar year (full-time); two or three years (part-time, daytime only). The expectation in the UK is of continuous study across the year, with break periods used to read and to prepare coursework.
Minimum Entry Requirements: Minimum upper second class BA degree (or equivalent) in the humanities, social sciences or natural sciences, or significant experience in a relevant food- and/or agriculture-related career
Food is a fundamental human necessity, essential to the sustenance of the human body. At the same time, food may be associated with pleasure, passion, even luxury. Food is also essential to the social body. Who eats what, who eats with whom, and whose appetites are satisfied and whose denied, are all profoundly social dynamics through which identities, relationships, and hierarchies are created and reproduced.
The SOAS MA programme in the Anthropology of Food offers students the opportunity to explore historically and culturally variable foodways, from foraging to industrial agriculture, from Europe and North America to Africa, Asia and South America. The programme asks students to trace the passage of food from plant to palate, and to examine who benefits, and who suffers, from contemporary modes of food production, exchange, preparation, and consumption. Students examine food policy at national and international levels, as well as the role played in its formation by the food industry.
Focus is given to the study of famine and the controversial role of food aid in securing food supplies. Debates over the impact of agricultural biotechnology on agrarian livelihoods and knowledge systems, as well as on the natural environment, are assessed. Movements toward organic agriculture, fair trade, and slow food are also analysed.
An anthropological approach to the study of food draws upon and challenges the perspectives of other disciplines, whether agronomy or nutritional science, economics or law, history or literature. Dependent upon individual interests and experiences, graduates of the programme may pursue research degrees in any number of academic disciplines, or find employment in food-related government ministries, international organizations, development agencies, or non-governmental associations, as well as in the fields of public health, education, and media, or in the catering industry.
Course teachers Johan Pottier, Harry G. West, and Jakob Klein were awarded the 2009 Excellence in Instruction Award by the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society. West was named joint runner-up for the SOAS Director’s Teaching Prize in 2011-2012. The SOAS MA in the Anthropology of Food was named a Finalist in the Best Food Initiative category in the BBC Food & Farming Awards in 2015.
Applicants for the MA Anthropology of Food may be eligible to apply for Scholarships and Bursaries.
Degree programmes at SOAS - including this one - can include language courses in more than forty African and Asian languages. It is SOAS students’ command of an African or Asian language which sets SOAS apart from other universities.
Programme Structure Overview
The programme consists of four units in total: three units of examined courses and a one unit dissertation of 10,000 words.
- The Anthropology of Food - 15PANC013 (1.0 unit).
- Dissertation in Anthropology and Sociology - 15PANC999 (1.0 unit). This is a 10,000 word dissertation on a topic agreed with the Programme Convenor of the MA Anthropology of Food and the candidate’s supervisor.
- Additionally all MA Anthropology students 'audit' the course Ethnographic Research Methods during term 1 - this will not count towards your 4 units.
- Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology - 15PANC008 (1.0 unit). This is compulsory only for students without a previous anthropology degree.
- The remaining unit(s) of your programme, either 1 unit of option courses (if taking Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology) or 2 units (if exempted from Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology), may then be selected from the Option Courses list below.
- Your 1 or 2 total units may be made up of any combination of 0.5 or 1 unit option courses.
- However, 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.
- Alternatively, one language course may be taken from the Faculty of Languages and Cultures.
- The Anthropology of Food - 15PANC013 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Dissertation in Anthropology and Sociology - 15PANC999 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology - 15PANC008 (1 Unit) - Full Year
Anthropology Option Courses
- African and Asian Cultures in Britain - 15PANH009 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- African and Asian Diasporas in the Modern World - 15PANH010 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Anthropological approaches to agriculture, food and nutrition - 15PANH053 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Anthropology of Globalisation (PG) - 15PANH061 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Anthropology of Human Rights (PG) - 15PANH058 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017
- Anthropology of Law - 15PANH056 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Anthropology of Urban Space, Place and Architecture - 15PANH029 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017
- Comparative Media Theory - 15PANH028 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Comparative Study of Islam: Anthropological Perspectives A (Masters) - 15PANH047 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017
- Comparative Study of Islam: Anthropological Perspectives B (Masters) - 15PANH048 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017 - Must be taken with the first term course - 15PANH047 Comparative Study of Islam: Anthropological Perspectives A (Masters)
- Culture and Society of China - 15PANC089 (1.0 Unit)
- Culture and Society of Japan - 15PANC086 (1.0 Unit)
- Culture and Society of South Asia - 15PANC087 (1.0 Unit)
- Culture and Society of South East Asia - 15PANC088 (1.0 Unit)
- Culture and Society of the Near and Middle East - 15PANC097 (1.0 Unit)
- Culture and Society of East Africa - 15PANC084 (1.0 Unit)
- Culture and Society of West Africa - 15PANC083 (1.0 Unit)
- Directed Practical Study in the Anthropology of Food - 15PANH045 (0.5 Unit) - Full Year
- Issues in the Anthropology of Film - 15PANH022 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Media Production Skills - 15PANH050 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Perspectives On Development - 15PANH033 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Therapy and Culture - 15PANH027 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Tourism and Travel: A Global Perspective - 15PANH059 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
Courses taught outside the Department of Anthropology
These courses are available subject to approval by the course convenor. Students may take no more than one full unit of courses taught outside of the Department of Anthropology. A language unit taught in the Faculty of Lanuages & Cultures may be taken.
- Agrarian Development, Food Policy and Rural Poverty - 15PDSH026 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Civil society, social movements and the development process - 15PDSH001 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017
- Extractive Industries, Energy, Biofuels and Development in a Time of Climate Change - 15PDSH048 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Famine and food security - 15PDSH022 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2016/2017
- Gender and development - 15PDSH010 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Gender in the Middle East - 15PGNH001 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Gendering migration & diasporas - 15PGNH002 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
- Globalisation and development - 15PDSC005 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Jainism: History, Doctrine and the Contemporary World - 15PSRC024 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Political economy of development - 15PDSC002 (1 Unit) - Full Year
- Natural resources, development and change: putting critical analysis into practice - 15PDSH031 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
- Non-Violence in Jain Scriptures, Philosophy and Law - 15PSRC062 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
- The working poor and development - 15PDSH030 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017
Teaching & Learning
Please see our Alumni Profiles.
For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.
How to apply
How to apply
- How to Apply
- Online Application
- Request a prospectus
- Got a question - use our enquiry form (opens a new window)
- Funding options
- English language requirements
- Tuition Fees
- Admissions Contacts
Application Deadline: 2016-02-12 00:00
Application Deadline: 2016-01-29 17:00
Application Deadline: 2016-02-24 17:00
Application Deadline: 2016-02-24 17:00
Application Deadline: 2016-02-22 17:00
Application Deadline: 2016-02-24 17:00
A Student's Perspective
When I first came here I was very surprised on how kind, polite and caring everyone was. From the staff to the students, everyone was very welcoming and enthusiastic. Coming from a corporate world and living in a big city like London, SOAS has been like an oasis in the desert; a very colourful, blissful environment which makes you feel at home.