Taught course

Anthropology of International Development and Humanitarian Assistance

Brunel University, London · Social Sciences, Media and Communications

Entry requirements

Normally a good UK Honours degree, an equivalent overseas qualification, or an equivalent professional qualification (eg from a health background). Candidates not fully meeting these criteria may be considered on an individual basis.

Months of entry


Course content

The MSc in the Anthropology of International Development and Humanitarian Assistance will appeal to graduates from a variety of backgrounds, including: anthropology, sociology, economics, politics, geography, law and development studies. It will provide the necessary training to enable students to seek employment with NGOs (such as Oxfam and Save the Children Fund), international agencies (such as the World Health Organisation and the World Food Programme) and the civil service (such as the UK Department for International Development). It will also provide a useful stepping stone for those seeking to undertake doctoral research in international development.

Over the last ten years, global aspirations to reduce the suffering of the "bottom billion" have led to unprecedented attention on international development. International agencies, governments and NGOs are working more intensely than ever before to deliver appropriate policies and interventions.

Anthropology has played a key role in the emergence of new perspectives on humanitarian assistance and the livelihoods of populations caught up in extreme circumstances such as famines, natural disasters and wars. On the one hand, this has led to a radical re-thinking of what has been happening, but on the other hand, it has led to anthropologists sometimes playing controversial roles in agendas associated with the "war on terror".

This course examines these contemporary issues and debates, and explores their implications. It also sets them in the context of anthropology as a discipline. In so doing, students will discover how the apparent insights and skills of anthropologists have a long history associated with ethnographic work on economics, education, health, deprivation and conceptions of suffering dating back to the origins of the discipline.

Anthropology at Brunel is well-known for its focus on ethnographic fieldwork: as well as undertaking rigorous intellectual training, all our students are expected to get out of the library and undertake their own, original research – whether in the UK or overseas – and to present their findings in a dissertation. Students take this opportunity to travel to a wide variety of locations across the world.

Full-time (one year), attendance for lectures is just two days a week. Part-time (two years) attendance for lectures is just one day a week. 24 weeks attendance per year.

Typical core modules (subject to change) include:

  • Anthropology of International Development
  • Anthropological Perspectives of Humanitarian Assistance
  • Anthropological Perspectives of War
  • Ethnographic Research Methods

Elective modules (subject to change) to the value of 30 credits may be drawn from the broad areas of Anthropology, Health Sciences and Social Care, Politics and History, Business and Law:

Information for international students

International students are welcomed. We require IELTS 6.5 (min 6.0 in all sections) or equivalent. Visit our dedicated web pages at: http://www.brunel.ac.uk/international

Fees and funding

UK students
£7,500 FT, £3,750 PT
International students
£14,400 FT, £7,200 PT

Read about funding opportunities available to postgraduate students

Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months
part time
30 months


AssessmentWhat kind of work will I be doing? (proportionally)
Written coursework / continuous assessment66
Dissertation34 (15,000 words)

Course contact details

PG Enquiries
+44 (0)1895 265599