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The Cambridge MPhil in Social Anthropology is an intensive 11-month graduate degree programme intended as a conversion course for students with little or no previous training in anthropological methods and perspectives. It provides a wide yet thorough grounding in the theoretical and ethnographic dimensions of the field. The degree can be a free-standing qualification, or a route to the original research involved in a PhD, or a means to acquire knowledge of anthropology for use in other fields and professional contexts.

Teaching for the MPhil is via introductory briefings, seminars, lectures and individual supervision. It is centred around four seminars (Economics, Kinship/Gender, Politics, and Religion) that constitute the principal teaching covered under the headings 'Production and Reproduction' (Paper 1) and 'Power and Knowledge'  (Paper 2). In Cambridge parlance, a 'paper' is a formally assessed component of a degree course for which students sit a written examination at the end of the academic year.  All MPhil students are expected to attend and take an active part in all four of the Paper 1 and Paper 2 seminars. 

In addition to these seminars, the Division expects all MPhil students to attend lectures shared with second year undergraduates under the code heading SAN2 covering the four major anthropological subdisciplines: political anthropology, economic anthropology, the anthropology of religion, and the anthropology of kinship/gender. Students also attend the lectures on anthropological theory which are provided under the code heading SAN3 which is about anthropological theories and methods. In addition, students must choose one from a range of available option paper (all listed as alternatives under the code heading MPhil Paper 3).  All the option papers are reflective of staff members' current research interests; those on offer vary from year to year.

Students are not expected to confine themselves exclusively to these lectures: in consultation with their supervisors, they are encouraged to attend other lectures which may be relevant to their general interests and in prospective dissertation topics. The Division also offers a separate fieldwork research methodology paper (Paper 4).

  1. Production and Reproduction (Paper 1)

  2. Systems of Power and Knowledge (Paper 2)

  3. Optional Papers (Paper 3)
  4. Anthropological Theory and Methods  (SAN3 non-assessed Paper)
  5. Fieldwork Research Methodology (Paper 4) (non-assessed)

Option papers offered in 2016-17 are listed below and those offered in 2017-2018 will be shown on the MPhil page by late May 2017.

The intension of the course is to provide students with a thorough grounding in the approaches, methods and findings of social anthropology. The field is large and you will find that the coursework is intensive. There are a number of components to it:

    •    introductory sessions;
    •    lectures;
    •    seminars;
    •    supervisions;
    •    fieldwork and research methods workshop; and
    •    assessment (in the form of a set essay, exams and dissertation).

In summary, you will sit two three-hour unseen written examinations (Paper 1 and Paper 2); you will submit an independently researched set essay relating to the concerns of the option you choose from those listed under Paper 3; and you will research and submit an in-depth exercise in anthropological analysis in the form of a dissertation. The MPhil is a pass/ fail degree but for internal purposes the Division distinguishes between Pass and High Pass. Normally a Strong High Pass (73) is required as a qualification for admission to the Cambridge Social Anthropology PhD programme.


Papers offered for 2016/17

Paper 1 Scope of SA I: Production & Reproduction

Paper 2 Scope of SA II: Systems of Power & Knowledge

Paper 3 Optional Papers:

(Paper 3c)  Medical Anthropology

(SAN8) Anthropology and Development

(SAN10) The Anthropology of Post-Socialist Societies

(SAN11) Anthropology of Media and Visual Culture

SAN3: Anthropological Theory and Methods 


Please note: Applicants wishing to follow the options in Medical Anthropology would benefit from previous experience in the relevant area.