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Department of Social Anthropology

Women farmers in Karnataka, India


This paper is designed to introduce students to the theory and methods characteristic of social anthropology, supplement their understanding of the discipline as a whole and assist in the design of the projects they will undertake for their dissertation. It is unassessed, but attendance at lectures and seminars, along with relevant preparation, will be essential to excelling in the other papers.

The lecture series ‘Anthropological Modes of Enquiry’ introduces students to some of the ways that social anthropology has theorised society and outlines the distinctive analytical moves the discipline continues to make. It seeks to draw attention to what has unified anthropological thought, regardless of theoretical paradigm. It is therefore envisioned as a description of the ‘stakes’ of the discipline and designed to offer students a foundation from which to approach their other papers. 

The SAN3 lectures ‘Schools and Styles of Anthropological Theory’ give a comprehensive overview of the most influential theoretical approaches throughout social anthropology’s history. Students are encouraged to incorporate material from this course into their essays, supervisions and dissertation.

The Research Design Workshops are a series of seminars in which students will be instructed on the key methodologies employed by social anthropology. Topics will include interview technique, note taking, ethics, risk assessment and other essential skills. Students will be asked to employ these methods for short tasks in advance of the seminars.

The MPhil Dissertation Workshop, running in June, is an opportunity for students to present their dissertation research to the Department as a whole. It will be held early in the ‘writing up’ process, and so will provide an invaluable impetus to bringing research ideas into a more tangible form. 

Anthropological Lives explores the lives of anthropologists who made striking and distinctive career decisions and/or unexpected use of their anthropological material. 

Course Resources

MPhil Paper 4 Guide

For the paper guide, reading lists, additional teaching materials, past exam papers and reports please see the MPhil Moodle Course

Please note teaching staff and students enrolled on the MPhil course will automatically be enrolled on the MPhil Moodle course and you will find a link to it in the ‘My Home’ section of Moodle.

If you are a member of the University of Cambridge and you wish to view the reading lists, past exam questions and exam reports then you can access the MPhil Moodle Course as a guest. For more information on how to access Moodle Courses as a guest please see Moodle Help.