Research course

Anthropology and Sociology

SOAS University of London · Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Entry requirements

A BA and/or MA degree in Anthropology, with a merit or equivalent in the Masters Degree and a MA dissertation grade of 65% (UK) or higher. Applicants must provide a clear and coherent research proposal of 2000 words, plus one academic reference. In exceptional cases we may accept applicants who do not meet these criteria if they show evidence of a strong Masters degree and/or appropriate level of relevant work experience. International applicants should also see Doctoral School English language requirements.

Months of entry


Course content

A majority of our PhD graduates have embarked on an academic career, taking up lectureships in universities in the UK as well as abroad, or pursuing further their interests through post-doctoral fellowships and other research-based posts.

At the same time, SOAS anthropology PhD graduates have gone on to a range of occupations in the fields of social and market research, development organisations at home and overseas, international and national government and policy, heritage and museum services, journalism and in advisory services of many kinds.

Social anthropology is widely regarded by employers as an excellent training, equipping holders of the degree with a range of sought after skills. The MPhil/PhD offers graduates the opportunity to enhance their qualitative research skills and advance their expertise in their chosen field of study. Thus equipped, they are valuable not only for generating the empirical data required for reaching certain decisions, but also for providing the necessary critical tools that enable organisations to innovate and address the challenges of a fast changing world.

The SOAS PhD in Social Anthropology is recognized by the ESRC as both a +3 and 1+3 course. (See ESRC Scholarships and MRes in Social Anthropology)

Research pathways

There are several possible research pathways available to research students in the department. These are:

  • The +3 pathway
  • The 1+3 pathway
  • The 2+3 pathway
  • The +4 pathway
+3 pathway

The +3 pathway is our standard MPhil/PhD pathway suitable for candidates with an existing Masters-level degree in anthropology. Candidates are initially registered as MPhil students. For full-time students, the first year of registration includes research methods training and project development, culminating in upgrade to PhD registration. Subject to successfully upgrading, the second year is generally spent conducting fieldwork. The third year is spent writing-up.

1+3 pathway

The 1+3 pathway involves one year on our ESRC-recognised MRes Social Anthropology programme followed by three years on the MPhil/PhD programme. This pathway is suitable for candidates with an undergraduate degree in anthropology but no Masters-level training in the discipline. The dissertation for the MRes Social Anthropology constitutes the basis for the research report and fieldwork proposal required for upgrading from MPhil to PhD status. Consequently the upgrade process generally occurs early in the first year of the +3 part of the pathway and the student may expect to leave for fieldwork after about one term.

2+3 pathway

The 2+3 pathway is intended for those with an undergraduate degree in anthropology but who require additional intensive training in a designated African or Asian language in order to undertake fieldwork. It comprises the two-year MRes Social Anthropology and Intensive Language, followed by three years on the MPhil/PhD programme. As with the 1+3 pathway, candidates are able to upgrade and embark on fieldwork earlier in the first year of MPhil/PhD registration than students on the standard +3 pathway.

+4 pathway

The +4 pathway is intended for students with an existing Masters-level degree in anthropology who require additional intensive language training in order to undertake fieldwork. The pathway comprises of a two-year fieldwork training period, including intensive language training, and the opportunity, where appropriate, for short pre-fieldwork familiarisation visits to expected fieldwork sites and/or in situ language training. Candidates are expected to upgrade to PhD status at the start of their second year of registration.

The above descriptions are based on full-time registration. Each of these pathways is also available on a part-time basis (e.g. the +3 pathway can be taken part-time over six years). Students on each of these pathways may also be eligible to apply for an additional year of writing up at reduced fee level on ‘continuation’ status.

As described, the expectation is that candidates for the above research degree pathways will already have training in anthropology at undergraduate or postgraduate level (depending on pathway). We recognise, however, that some candidates may have anthropological training without a formal degree in anthropology. Prospective students should contact the Director of Doctoral Studies to discuss their particular circumstances. Where candidates do not have sufficient anthropological foundation, they may be advised first to take one of our taught MA programmes (rather than the MRes Social Anthropology) in order to qualify for the +3 or +4 MPhil/PhD pathways.

For more information, contact the current Director of Doctoral Studies.

Information for international students

For details, including English language requirements

Fees and funding

For details of postgraduate fees

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    part time
    72 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    36 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
  • MPhil
    part time
    36 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Postgraduate Enquiries
+44 (0)20 3510 6974