For successful completion of the course, MPhil students must submit the following written work for examination:
- An assessed set essay of not more than 6,000 words in length including the title page and footnotes, but excluding figures, tables, appendices and bibliography, on a subject chosen by the candidate from a list published each year by the Division and related to the option paper they are taking from among those listed under the code heading MPhil Paper 3. The subject of the essay must not overlap the subject of the dissertation.
This element counts for 20% of the student's overall mark for the course.
- Written examinations on:
1. Paper 1 The Scope of Social Anthropology I: Production and Reproduction
2. Paper 2 The Scope of Social Anthropology II: Systems of Power and Knowledge
Each exam paper counts for 20% of the student's overall mark for the course.
- A dissertation of not more than 13,000 words in length, including the title page and footnotes, but excluding figures, tables, appendices, and bibliography, on a subject approved by the Degree Committee for the Faculty of Human, Social, and Political Science, which must not fall within the subject of the set essay offered by the candidate.
The dissertation counts for 40% of the student's overall mark for the course.
The formal regulations for the MPhil in Social Anthropology can be found in the University’s Statutes and Ordinances.
On this page:
The set essay is a research-based essay but must be chosen from the list of subjects published by the Division - see MPhil Set Essay Topics. Students should compile an agreed reading list for the set essay in consultation with their supervisors, and are urged to begin this process during Michaelmas term, so there is ample time to receive appropriate guidance. The subject of the essay must not overlap the subject of your dissertation. You must notify the Division of your choice of essay title by submitting Form MP13 to the Graduate Administrator at the Social Anthropology Administration Office on Free School Lane by Thursday of the third week in November.
Two paper copies of the set essay must be submitted to the Administration Office by noon on the first day of Easter term and a digital version (in Word and PDF) must be uploaded to the MPhil Moodle Course.
Examinations last for three hours, during which you are expected to answer three questions (in essay form) from a menu of approximately 14-16 previously unseen questions. In preparation for these examinations, you should draw across material you have learnt in lectures, seminars, supervisions and through your own independent reading. Examiners are well aware that the papers cover more than individual students can master in one year. For individual questions we are looking for evidence that students are not simply repeating existing essays, but are engaging thoughtfully with the questions at hand. Copies of previous years’ examination papers are available on the MPhil Moodle Course.
The dissertation (see Planning your dissertation) is an exercise in original research. For those candidates taking the Museums or Medical Anthropology options of Paper 3, the topic of the dissertation should be within the general field of that option. For those candidates taking other options, the only requirement is that the dissertation is securely anthropological. In both cases the primary aim of the dissertation should be the theoretical analysis of ethnographic material; it may also be a new synthesis of data and/ or new interpretation of existing material. All titles must be submitted for approval by the Degree Committee by returning Form MP14 to the Graduate Administrator by the Division of Lent Term.
You are expected to attend all seminar classes, including those relating to the field in which your dissertation falls. This is to ensure that you will have a broad background from which to approach the more specialised work involved in writing the dissertation. Two paper copies of the thesis must be submitted to the Administration Office by the Division of Easter Term (early assessment) or the last Friday in August (late assessment), plus a digital version submitted via the MPhil Moodle Course.
For further information, including the Style Guidelines, please see
Submission deadlines are announced in the MPhil Diary. Essays and dissertations must be submitted by noon on the day of the deadline. You are expected to manage your time to meet the deadlines. This includes, for example, preparing a draft well in advance, to allow reasonable time for feedback from your supervisor, and final revisions. Please note that sloppy presentation (bad spelling or grammar, incomplete bibliography etc.) will be penalised by the examiners.
No extensions will be given to the deadlines, with exceptions being made only for certified medical emergencies. Essays or dissertations submitted after noon on the deadline days will be penalised by 5 marks for the first day, followed by 1 mark for each day of delay thereafter.
If you experience personal or other difficulties that interfere with your work, you should consult your supervisor and/or College Tutor in good time for advice and assistance. In exceptional circumstances, a case for late submission may be made through these authorities, but it must reach the Graduate Administrator well before the deadline. In extreme cases personal problems may require periods of intermission of studies.
Please also note that the word counts for essays and dissertations are strict. There are upper limits and you must not exceed them. The Division reserves the right to check the Word copy of the essay or dissertation to verify the word count. Set essays or dissertations that exceed the limits will be penalised by 5 marks, regardless of the length of excess.
Formally, this is a pass/ fail course. The standard for a pass begins at 60. Internally we note the difference between a pass (60-69) and a high pass (70-74), and a mark above 75 is awarded a distinction.
The dissertation is weighted insofar as it is a separate element, which must be passed; a candidate may carry one fail mark in any element other than the dissertation provided there are compensating marks.
If you wish to proceed to doctoral research you will normally be expected to achieve a strong high pass (73) overall. Your exact academic condition will be clarified if you are successful in your application to the PhD programme.
|75%+||Distinction||At the upper end this is work which consistently exceeds expectations and challenges received views. At the lower end it indicates work which is excellent in its range and its command of the material, and in the argument and analysis that it brings to bear.|
|70-74%||High Pass||Work showing evidence of a good, broad-based engagement with and understanding of the relevant material organised in a clearly-argued, well-illustrated and relevant fashion.|
|60-69%||Pass||At the upper end this includes work which, though competent and broadly relevant, is somewhat lacking in focus, organisation or breadth of reference. At the lower end it indicates work which, while demonstrating some knowledge of the material, is yet deficient in understanding, analysis and breadth of reference.|
Information on the HSPS Faculty Data Retention Policy.