SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

MA Anthropological Research Methods

1 year full-time or 2/3 years part-time. The expectation in the UK is of continuous study across the year, with break periods used to read and to prepare coursework.

Fees 2016/17

UK/EU fees:
Overseas fees:

This is a Band 2 fee. The fees are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. Further details can be found in the Fees and Funding tab on this page or in the Registry Postgraduate Tuition Fees page

2016 Entry requirements

  • Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in Social Anthropology. This Masters is designed for students wishing to pursue a PhD in Social Anthropology. Exceptionally this course may be taken as a conversion MA. Students who would like to take this path must demonstrate the regional and language expertise necessary for continuing onto a PhD.

Featured events

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Fees and funding
  • Employment
  • Apply


Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

The MA in Anthropological Research Methods (MaRes) may be taken either as a free standing MA or as the first part of a PhD [e.g. as a 1 + 3 research training program]. In either case, the student completes a program of research training that includes the Ethnographic Research Methods, Statistical Analysis and the Research Training Seminar as well as a language option. All MaRes students are assigned a supervisor at the start of the year, who will help the student choose other relevant course options. Candidates must also submit a number of research related assignments which, taken together with the dissertation, are equivalent to approximately 30,000 words of assessed work. All students write an MA dissertation, but for students progressing on to a PhD, the MA dissertation will take the form of a research report that will constitute the first part of the upgrade document for the PhD programme.

The MaRes is recognised by the ESRC.



Aims and Outcomes

The MA is designed to train students in research skills to the level prescribed by the ESRC’s research training guidelines. It is intended for students with a good first degree (minimum of a 2.1) in social anthropology and/or a taught Masters degree in social anthropology. Most students would be expected to progress to PhD registration at the end of the degree. By the end of the program students will:

  • Have achieved practical competence in a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods and tools;
  • Have the ability to understand key issues of method and theory, and to understand the epistemological issues involved in using different methods.

In addition to key issues of research design, students will be introduced to a range of specific research methods and tools including:

  • Interviewing, collection and analysis of oral sources, analysis and use of documents, participatory research methods, issues of triangulation research validity and reliability, writing and analysing field notes, and ethnographic writing.
  • Social statistics techniques relevant for fieldwork and ethnographic data analysis (including chi-square tests, the T-test, F-test, and the rank correlation test).

Discipline specific training in anthropology includes:

  • Ethnographic methods and participant observation;
  • Ethical and legal issues in anthropological research;
  • The logistics of long-term fieldwork;
  • Familiarisation with appropriate regional and theoretical literatures;
  • Writing-up (in the field and producing ethnography) and communicating research results; and
  • Language training.

The Training Programme

In addition to optional courses that may be taken (see below), the student must successfully complete the following core course:

This full unit course is composed of Ethnographic Research Methods (15 PAN H002, a 0.5 unit course) and Introduction to Quantitative Methods in Social Research (15PPOH035, a 0.5 unit course hosted by Department of Politics and International Studies).

MA Anthropological Research Methods students and first year MPhil/PhD are also required to attend the Research Training Seminar which provides training in the use of bibliographic/online resources, ethical and legal issues, communication and team-working skills, career development, etc. The focus of the Research Training Seminar is the development and presentation of the thesis topic which takes the form of a PhD-level research proposal. 


MA/MPhil Students meet regularly with their supervisor to produce a systematic review of the secondary and regional literature that forms an integral part of their dissertation/research proposal. The dissertation, Dissertation in Anthropology and Sociology (15 PAN C998), is approximately 15,000 words and demonstrates the extent to which students have achieved the key learning outcomes during the first year of research training. The dissertation takes the form of an extended research proposal that includes:

  • A review of the relevant theoretical and ethnographic literature;
  • An outline of the specific questions to be addressed, methods to be employed, and the expected contribution of the study to anthropology;
  • A discussion of the practical, political and ethical issues likely to affect the research; and
  • A presentation of the schedule for the proposed research together with an estimated budget.

The MA dissertation is submitted no later than mid-September of the student’s final year of registration. Two soft-bound copies of the dissertation, typed or word-processed, should be submitted to the Faculty of Arts and Humanities Office by 16:00 and on Moodle by 23:59 on the appropriate day.

Exemption from Training

Only those students who have clearly demonstrated their knowledge of research methods by completing a comparable program of study in qualitative and quantitative methods will be considered for a possible exemption from the taught courses. All students, regardless of prior training, are required to participate in the Research Training Seminar.

Structure of Study

Learn a language as part of this programme

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.

A typical program of study would involve enrolling and passing (an asterisk * indicates a required component of the degree) three full units (this includes the two half units on research methods) and submitting a dissertation.

Term 1
Generic Training
  • Language Training
  • Special Course Option
Anthropological Training
Term 2
Generic Training
  • Language Training
  • Special Course Option
Anthropological Training
Term 3
  • Research Training Seminar: presentations to subject group
  • Work with Supervisor
  • Submission of dissertation/research proposal

Language Training

Students can choose to study any African or Asian language that is normally available to students taking one of the taught masters programs.

Option Courses
Anthropology Option Courses
ModuleCodeUnit valueTermAvailability
Anthropology of Globalisation (PG) 15PANH061 0.5 Unit Term 2
Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology 15PANC008 1 Unit Full Year
Comparative Studies of Society and Culture 15PANC073 1 Unit Full Year
Comparative Media Studies 15PANC009 1 Unit Full Year
Comparative Media Theory 15PANH028 0.5 Unit Term 1
Issues in the Anthropology of Film 15PANH022 0.5 Unit Term 1
The Anthropology of Food 15PANC013 1 Unit Full Year
Anthropological approaches to agriculture, food and nutrition 15PANH053 0.5 Unit Term 2
Issues in the Anthropology of Gender 15PANH024 0.5 Unit Term 1
Cultural Understandings of Health 15PANC093 1 Unit Full Year
Therapy and Culture 15PANH027 0.5 Unit Term 1
Anthropology of Travel and Tourism 15PANC098 1 Unit Full Year
Tourism and Travel: A Global Perspective 15PANH059 0.5 Unit Term 1
Issues in Mind, Culture and Psychiatry 15PANH032 0.5 Unit Term 1
African and Asian Diasporas in the Contemporary World 15PANC012 1 Unit Full Year
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
Iranian media and film 15PMSH010 0.5 Unit Term 1 Not Running 2016/2017
Perspectives On Development 15PANH033 0.5 Unit Term 1
Anthropology of Development 15PANC090 1 Unit Full Year
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
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)
Anthropology of Urban Space, Place and Architecture 15PANH029 0.5 Unit Term 2 Not Running 2016/2017
Media Production Skills 15PANH050 0.5 Unit Term 2
Theory and Method in the Study of Religion 15PSRC010 1 Unit Full Year Not Running 2016/2017
Anthropology of Law 15PANH056 0.5 Unit Term 2
Anthropology of Human Rights (PG) 15PANH058 0.5 Unit Term 2 Not Running 2016/2017

Programme Specification


Teaching and Learning

Year abroad


Teaching & Learning

This MA is designed to be a shortcut into the PhD in that two of its components (the Research Methods Course and the Research Training Seminar, which supports the writing of the dissertation) are part of the taught elements of the MPhil year. Students on this course are also assigned a supervisor with whom they meet fortnightly as do the MPhil students. The other two elements of the course are unique to each student: and might include doing one of the core courses from the other Masters degrees (Social Anthropology, Anthropology of Development, Medical Anthropology, Anthropology of Media, Migration and Diaspora, or Anthropology of Food), as well as any options that will build analytical skills and regional knowledge, including language training. The MaRes can also be used to build regional expertise or to fill gaps in particular areas such as migration or development theory.

The dissertation for the MaRes will normally be assessed by two readers in October of the following year (that is, after the September 15th due date).  Students who proceed onto the MPhil course from the MA will then have the first term of the MPhil year to write a supplementary document that reviews the dissertation and provides a full and detailed Fieldwork Proposal. This, along with research report material from the original MA dissertation, is examined in a viva voce as early as November of the first term of the MPhil year by the same examiners who have read the dissertation. Successful students can then be upgraded to the PhD in term 1 and leave for fieldwork in term 2 of the first year of the MPhil/PhD programme. This programme is currently recognised by the ESRC and therefore interested students who are eligible for ESRC funding can apply under the 1+3 rubric. (ESRC)

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees

Full details of postgraduate tuition fees can be found on the Registry's Postgraduate Tuition Fees page.

This is a Band 2 tuition fee.

The fees below are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. 

Full-timePart-time 2 YearsPart-time 3 Years
£8,295 £17,490 £4,148 £8,745 £2,765 £5,830
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Studentships

Application Deadline: 2016-02-05 16:00

Felix Non- Indian Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2016-02-12 00:00

Felix Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2016-01-29 17:00

SOAS Master's Scholarships - Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Application Deadline: 2016-02-24 17:00

Santander Taught Master’s Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2016-02-24 17:00

Sasakawa Postgraduate Studentship

Application Deadline: 2016-02-22 17:00

The Prospect Burma - Hla Pe Memorial Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2016-02-24 17:00

For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section


Students of the Masters in Anthropological Research Methods develop a wide range of transferable skills such as research, analysis, oral and written communication skills.  

The communication skills of anthropologists transfer well to areas such as information and technology, the media and tourism. Other recent SOAS career choices have included commerce and banking, government service, the police and prison service, social services and health service administration. Opportunities for graduates with trained awareness of the socio-cultural norms of minority communities also arise in education, local government, libraries and museums.

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

A Student's Perspective

This approach to teaching in the Department, in which theory is balanced with real life examples often results in passionate and thought provoking debates. If you miss a class, you miss out on an experience.

Sabah Choudhry


Find out more

  • Contact us
    By phone:
    +44 (0)20 7898 4700
    By email:
  • Got a question?

    If you still have questions about this programme or studying at SOAS get in touch.

    Ask a question

  • Apply

    Postgraduate programme applications should be made through our online application system.

    Start your application