Taught course

Psychological and Psychiatric Anthropology

Brunel University, London · Social Sciences, Media and Communications

Entry requirements

A UK first or second class (2.2) Honours degree or an equivalent internationally recognised qualification

Applicants with other degrees that have relevant experience will be considered on an individual basis.

Applicants will be interviewed either in person or by telephone.

Months of entry


Course content

Anyone interested in psychological processes, feeling and expression, memory and trauma, culture and personality, will have asked themselves questions like:

  • Do our categories of behaviour – normal and abnormal – translate across cultures?
  • Why do ethnic minorities have different experiences of mental health?
  • Is there a ‘human nature’ underneath all the cultural differences?

However, they are less likely to have asked themselves how (or if) we can recognise and analyse different emotions in other cultural settings.

In the MSc in Psychological and Psychiatric Anthropology, the first of its kind anywhere in Europe, we tackle these and other issues from an anthropological perspective, looking at the social and cultural dimensions of human experience. By engaging with debates on these important topics and through the examination of world ethnography (including the UK), participants will learn about selfhood, emotion, madness and identity in cultural context.

This MSc aims to give candidates a solid grounding in key topics in psychological and psychiatric anthropology. Through detailed consideration of cases from Britain and around the world, we explore the ways in which person, emotion, and subjectivity are shaped through cultural practices.

Candidates from backgrounds in health, therapy, social work and psychology will be able to challenge the categories and assumptions inherent in standard approaches to psychological and behavioural issues.

This degree looks at psychological and psychiatric topics from an anthropological perspective. There is an overlap with psychology and psychiatry in the things we look at (identity, consciousness, cognition, mental health etc., but the approach is quite different; indeed, the findings can be startlingly different. In all cases, we explore the point of view and experience of the insider, the 'native', in a range of cultures; we analyse this inside view in relation to the social and cultural environment. What we seek is a dynamic conception of human nature that is true to experience as well as illuminating broader social processes of which the individual may be only partly aware.

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 compulsory modules (subject to change) include:

  • Ethnographic Research Methods
  • Themes in Psychiatric Anthropology
  • Themes in Psychological Anthropology
  • Reading Module: Political and Economic Issues in Anthropology
  • Reading Module: Contemporary Anthropological Theory

Elective modules (subject to change) may include a choice from:

  • The Anthropology of the Body
  • The Anthropology of Childhood
  • The Anthropology of Youth
  • Ethnicity, Culture and Identity
  • Medical Anthropology in Clinical and Community Settings
  • Anthropology of the Person
  • Kinship, Sex and Gender
  • Anthropology of Global Health
  • Applied Medical Anthropology in the arena of Global Health
  • Anthropology of Education
  • Anthropology of Learning

Information for international students

International students are welcomed. We require IELTS 6.5 (min 6.0 in all sections) or equivalent. Please visit our dedicated webpages: www.brunel.ac.uk/international

Fees and funding

UK students
£7,500 full-time; £3,750 part-time
International students
£14,400 full-time; £7,200 part-time

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 (15000 words)

Course contact details

Brunel Course Enquiries
+44 (0) 1895 265599