Research course

Social Anthropology

University of Cambridge · Division of Social Anthropology

Entry requirements

A First-class Honours Degree or strong High Pass in a Master's degree in Social Anthropology is normally required.

Months of entry


Course content

This ESRC recognised course provides intensive research training in social anthropology, social science research methods more generally, and the opportunity to complete a research dissertation under academic guidance. It is ordinarily expected that MRes students will progress directly to registration for the PhD course and fieldwork, subject to excellent results in their MRes. However, the MRes can also serve as a free-standing project if a student wishes to pursue advanced study and to acquire additional research skills without proceeding to the PhD programme.

It is expected that applicants for the Social Anthropology MRes will have a first-class Honours degree or strong High Pass in a Master's degree in Social Anthropology.

The MRes in Social Anthropology is intended for students who already have full training at Undergraduate and/or Master's level in the methods and perspectives of Social/Cultural Anthropology.

The course is a one-year period of rigorous training in research issues and methods that leads to the production of an independently-researched 15,000 word dissertation and a substantial fieldwork proposal. The taught portion of the MRes programme is the same as the nine-month PhD pre-fieldwork training programme: students take the same courses in ethnographic methods and social theory, and receive the same close interaction with their supervisor, a senior member of department staff. There is also training in quantitative social science methods.

The course offers critical discussion of students' research projects and provides training in:

  • how fieldwork contributes to social scientific knowledge;
  • how to isolate the theoretical questions that inform particular pieces of ethnography; and
  • how to identify the kinds of empirical evidence necessary to address those questions.

Students work with a main Supervisor and a Faculty Advisor, who acts as a source of supplementary advice. Students will normally continue with this Supervisor if they continue to their PhD.

Additional information for those continuing to the PhD

Students continuing to the PhD will then normally undertake 12–18 months of ethnographic fieldwork subject to the successful completion of a 7,000–word fieldwork proposal and fieldwork clearance interview with the PhD committee. Students would usually leave for field research at the start of their first term of the PhD (October/November).

On return to Cambridge, students devote the remainder of their research time to writing their PhD thesis in close consultation with their Supervisor.

Upon return from the field, writing-up students are also expected to attend the following seminars during term-time:

  • The PhD Writing-Up Seminar
  • The Senior Research Seminar
  • Anthropology Beyond the Academy
  • Anthropological Lives

Information for international students

Language Requirement

IELTS (Academic)

Element Score

Listening 7.0

Writing 7.0

Reading 7.0

Speaking 7.0

Total 7.5

TOEFL Internet Score

Element Score

Listening 25

Writing 25

Reading 25

Speaking 25

Total 110

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MRes
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details