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Study MA Anthropology of Global Futures and Sustainability
Overview and entry requirements
The MA Anthropology of Global Futures and Sustainability programme focuses on the big challenges of our times, offering students the opportunity to explore, communicate and address the major trends and debates as engaged global citizens. The programme is suited to those who are interested in climate change, sustainability and global equality, and who want to find out how to influence policy and practice in places of power. Climate politics, mass extinction, inequalities, racial injustice and global health crises raise questions about how we currently live our lives and pose crucial questions about how we can build a sustainable future.
The Anthropology of Global Futures and Sustainability MA programme focuses on the big challenges of our times, offering students the opportunity to explore, communicate and address the major trends and debates as engaged global citizens.
It asks fundamental questions about what it is to be human in a complex and ever-changing world, critically questioning existing assumptions and knowledge, and productively thinking about how to envision and create a more just and sustainable world.
Why study MA Global Futures and Sustainability at SOAS
- This is an interdisciplinary MA with an anthropological core drawing on other disciplines.
- Teaching is strongly informed by our regional interests in Africa and Asia, and from professional experiences of working in/with development banks, government departments, NGOs and activist organisations, social businesses and media collectives.
- You will encounter literature raising difficult moral and ethical questions in an academic environment where debate is highly encouraged and prized.
- You can take your own interests into a research project guided by an expert supervisor from our department.
- Our focus on the future and sustainability are areas of growing global concern and significance among private, public and international institutions; our emphasis on skills, communication and methodology gives graduates a clear advantage with employers as we put education into practice.
- Overall, this is a unique opportunity within the UK to explore the big issues with a practical focus on communication and change.
- Our Anthropology department is amongst the leading programmes in the UK (ranked #5 in QS World Rankings 2021) and is highly regarded globally (ranked #16 in QS World Rankings 2021).
Our focus is both on understanding and change.
- To understand: we explore anthropological literatures, methodologies and approaches to the future, sustainability and climate change.
- To change: we explore how the world works so we can target our communication, improve the ways in which we speak, write and argue, and to develop the tools, approaches and skills to effect change.
The programme is a key part of the SOAS Department of Anthropology and Sociology’s commitment to economic and social justice, environmental equality and to engage strongly and critically with the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations.
If you are interested and want to know more, please email Dr. Ben Bowles.
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Start of programme: September
Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time
- We will consider all applications with 2:ii (or international equivalent) or higher. In addition to degree classification we take into account other elements of the application including supporting statement and references.
- 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.
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.
The programme consists of 180 credits in total: 120 credits of modules and a dissertation of 10,000 words at 60 credits.
This programme is designed to give students practical knowledge and tools for tackling climate change and helping to create a sustainable future. A mix of seminars, lectures, workshops and practical sessions will form the teaching of the programme. Assessment will be conducted through a combination of essays, reflective pieces, practical exercises (such as methodological experiments), presentations in writing and other media and reports.
There are five core elements:
The big challenges in development and future thinking (environmental movements, humanitarianism, economic alternatives, refugees, racism, pandemics).
A focused examination of theory, institutions and knowledge.
Ethnographic research methods
The theory and practice of excellent anthropological research.
'How to change things'
How to present and target research in the world. You will also receive direct instruction from experts, including engaged anthropologists, activists and artists, on our flagship engaged anthropology module. This includes practical training in how to lobby governments for change, how to produce media for a range of audiences, how to engage with and advocate for communities, and how to effect positive change towards the ends of social justice.
Opportunity to research, produce and present an original project based on the themes of the programme.
As well as the programme’s core modules, students will also be able to choose other modules offered in the department, such as Anthropology of Food and Migration and Diaspora, among many others. In addition, module options from departments across SOAS, including a range of languages and other disciplines, will be available, allowing students to tailor their MA to their skills and interests.
All students take 60 credits of compulsory modules:
Students must complete a Dissertation (10,000 words) worth 60 credits.
The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.
Teaching & Learning
During the academic year, modules are delivered through a combination of lectures, tutorials and/or seminars.
Students can expect an average of two hours of classroom time per week for each module. Outside of the classroom, students explore topics of the module through independent study and through personal exchanges with teachers and fellow students.
In some cases, modules are taught by several teachers within the department to provide students with an array of perspectives on the subject. All modules involve the active participation of students in the discussion of ideas, viewpoints and readings.
The MA Anthropology of Global Futures and Sustainability culminates in a 10,000-word dissertation, based on original research on a topic of the student's own choosing and developed in discussion with a supervisor.
Meet the team
Edward Simpson is Professor of Social Anthropology and currently head of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology. He has strong personal interests in climate knowledge and communication and has just completed a book manuscript on road building, mobility and climate change in South Asia. 'Highways to the End of the World: Roads, Roadmen and Power in South Asia' will be published later this year with Hurst.
Catherine Dolan is a Reader of Social Anthropology specialising in the study of corporations, 'moral' capitalism and alternative economies in Africa. Her research draws on anthropology, development studies and critical management studies.
Ben Bowles is a Lecturer in Social Anthropology, specialising in political and economic anthropology. His research interests include infrastructure financing and assurance processes, and the implications that these knowledge regimes have for sustainability and the built environment. He is also interested in alternative and sustainable forms of dwelling, particularly those used by mobile and travelling populations.
SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.
Students from SOAS’ Department of Anthropology and Sociology develop an in-depth understanding of the world. Employers value our graduates’ cultural awareness and global perspective, as well as their skills in analysis, data interpretation and problem-solving.
Recent Department of Anthropology and Sociology graduates have been hired by:
- Allen & Overy
- British Council
- Hackney Migrant Centre
- IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development)
- IOM- UN Migration
- Media 52
- New York Times
- Social Mobility Foundation
- The Week
- United Nations Development Programme
- World Bank Group
Find out about our Careers Service.
A Student's Perspective
My course has opened up the possibility of lots of exciting career paths; I am currently considering the option of travel writing, trainee journalism with the BBC, or digital marketing.