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The Cambridge MPhil by Advanced Study 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, group supervisions and individual supervision. Supervision is our term for the personal one-to-one guidance, monitoring and discussion of work provided by a member of academic staff whom we call a supervisor. Every student has their own individual supervisor, whom they will meet regularly during the year, and who will provide personal one-to-one guidance monitoring and discussion of work. Every student's supervisor is appointed at the beginning of the academic year. Each student's supervisor will have expert knowledge and research experience in one or more of our field's disciplinary specialisms and thematic concerns.

Teaching 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 Department 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 papers (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 Department 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. Option Papers (Paper 3)
  4. Anthropological Theory and Methods  (SAN3 non-assessed Paper)
  5. Fieldwork and Research Methodology (non-assessed)

Option papers offered in 2019-20 are listed below.

The intention 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 students 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, students will sit two three-hour unseen written examinations (Paper 1 and Paper 2); they will submit an independently written set essay relating to the concerns of the option they choose from those listed under Paper 3; and they will 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 Department 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 2019/20

Paper 1 Scope of SA I: Production & Reproduction

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

SAN3: Anthropological Theory and Methods 

Paper 3 Option Papers:

(SAN9) Science and Society

(SAN12) Anthropology of Cities and Space

(SAN13) Gender, Kinship and Care