Overview and entry requirements
The MRes Social Anthropology offers students training in social science research methods, with a strong focus on ethnographic methods. It aims to provide students with the skills they need to conduct research at a doctoral level, or to work as social science researchers. In addition to the acquisition of strong methodological skills, students are able to benefit from SOAS' renowned offering of African and Asian languages, as well as its expertise in the humanities, including philosophy, linguistics, literature, and history.
Why study Social Anthropology at SOAS
- SOAS is ranked 5th in the UK in the 2021 QS World University Rankings for Anthropology, and 16th in the world
- draw on the exceptional regional expertise of our academics in Asian, African, and Middle Eastern languages and politics, many of whom have joined us with a practical working knowledge of their disciplines
- join our thriving community of alumni and academics who have an impact on the world outside of academia
- flexibly structure your programme using our programme optional modules and/or our Open Options modules from other departments, including the opportunity to learn a regional language
- we are specialists in the delivery of languages; your command of a language at SOAS will set you apart from graduates of other universities.
The MRes Social Anthropology is recognised by the Economic and Social research Council (ESRC).
Aims and outcomes
The MRes 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
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
- Language training
See Department of Anthropology and Sociology
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.
- 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.
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: 90 credits of modules and a dissertation of 15,000 words at 90 credits.
All students are expected to take the following three modules: a. Research Methods in Anthropology, b. the MRes Training Seminar, and c. Epigeum- Statistical Methods for Research – Social Sciences.
All students are required to take 30 credits from the Anthropology and Sociology list.
The remaining credits can be selected the Department of Anthropology and Sociology list or relevant options from other departments or a language module.
All students are required to attend the Epigeum - Statistical Methods for Social Sciences. This will not count towards your 180 credits.
Guided Module(s) from the Anthropology and Sociology list below, OR modules from the Postgraduate Open Options List, to the value of 60 credits.
All students are required to take the compulsory dissertation module worth 90 credits.
List of Modules (subject to availability)
Anthropology and Sociology
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
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. The SOAS Anthropology Department sponsors several lecture series, including the weekly Departmental Research Seminar, the Food Studies Centre's Food Forum and the Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies’ Seminar Series.
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.
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 perpsectives on the subject. All modules involve the active participation of students in the discussion of ideas, viewpoints and readings.
The MRes Social Anthropology culminates in a 15,000-word dissertation, based on original research on a topic of the student's own choosing and developed in discussion with a supervisor.
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
I can say without a doubt that engaging with anthropological study at SOAS has a universal practical application that is becoming increasingly valuable in our interconnected world. I cannot recommend it enough.