799A Dissertation (MA) in Anthropology

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Final Year
Module code
FHEQ Level

Module overview

A Dissertation of 10,000 words (excluding bibliography, appendices, etc., but including footnotes) is a required element of all MA Anthropology Degrees. The topic of the dissertation is left to students to decide according to their interests and subject to the agreement of the relevant Programme Convenor.

The dissertation should show an appropriate command of anthropological theory and the relevant literature, as well as the capacity to apply this to the topic in question. Students should also demonstrate an understanding of the specialized field of their degree.

Length: The 10,000 word limit is strictly adhered to and a word-count is required on the front page. This limit excludes bibliography (and filmography etc.), acknowledgments, maps, tables, figures, plates etc. It also excludes essential appendices, but these should be used sparingly if at all, and preferably with the agreement of the supervisor. The limit includes footnotes or endnotes. Students undertaking field research (please see the School's regulations) or projects involving work outside libraries (e.g. involving interviews or other original unpublished data) should discuss the word limit with their supervisors. Appendices may be appropriate in such cases or exceptionally, and alternatively, consideration may be given to a suitable extension within an agreed word limit.

Supervision: The Convenor of the dissertation programme is the Programme Convenor of the relevant degree. Students are allocated a dissertation supervisor early in the second term. Students normally receive three substantive supervisions of one hour duration with the allocated supervisor. The role of the supervisor is to assist the student in reaching an agreed topic of research, to approve the plan of work, help the student with any problems that may arise, advise on sources etc. The supervisor may read and comment on early or partial drafts of the dissertation, provided these are submitted according to the timetable set out below, but not on the final draft. Further guidance on the role of the dissertation supervisor is set out in the Faculty Guidelines.


Compulsory for all final-year students on:

  • MA Anthropology of Food
  • MA Anthropology of Food + Intensive Language
  • MA Anthropology of Global Futures and Sustainability
  • MA Medical Anthropology and Mental Health
  • MA Social Anthropology
  • MA Social Anthropology + Intensive Language

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

In completing an MA dissertation, a student should be able to demonstrate:

  • command of appropriate anthropological theory and the relevant literature;
  • the capacity to apply this to the topic in question;
  • the ability to frame research questions, consider relevant research design and explain methodological, epistemological and ethical issues related to a proposed research project;
  • the skills to pursue independent research from secondary and in some cases primary sources in their field;
  • how to organize their data and articulate their arguments coherently and clearly.

Method of assessment

100% Coursework.

Assessment: the dissertation element is a quarter of the degree. A distinction mark in the dissertation is required for the award of a degree with distinction overall, likewise, a merit mark. Achievement in the dissertation is given particular attention in the writing of personal references, especially in applications for research degrees (MPhil/PhD).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules