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Department of Social Anthropology


Kings College Chapel


A Cambridge PhD is very highly regarded in the field of Anthropology, both in the UK and overseas, and we have the largest cohort of postgraduate anthropology students in the UK. Cambridge is unparalleled as a place to study for a PhD, combining world class teaching and resources with a friendly but intellectually challenging atmosphere.

The PhD course consists in the first place of a period of training in research issues and methods culminating in the preparation of a research proposal. This training can either be undertaken through the nine-month (three-term) Pre-Fieldwork Course or through the one-year MRes in Social Anthropology.

Students then usually undertake 12-18 months of ethnographic fieldwork. If you are doing the Pre-Fieldwork Course, you can expect to leave for field research at the end of your third term (June-July). If you are doing the MRes course, you can expect to leave for fieldwork in your fourth term (October-December).

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

Please note: The University of Cambridge has stated that following the lifting of social distancing and other restrictions by the UK government they plan to provide as much in person teaching as is possible in the academic year 2021-22. The Department of Social Anthropology is supporting in person and hybrid teaching and supervision wherever it is possible. The University and the Department will adopt precautionary behaviours and control measures to minimise COVID-19 transmission, and encourage new courtesies and etiquette around face coverings and social distancing between individuals. A few lectures will need to be given online. Where this is the case, details will be given on the Moodle courses and online timetables for each paper. However, please be aware that the methods of teaching may have to be adjusted, sometimes at short notice, as the public health situation continues to develop.  Further more detailed guidance on the format of teaching and control measures in the Department will be made available to you on the Moodle Course for each degree.