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Department of Social Anthropology

Crowded ferry in Mayapur (credit: John Fahy)

The University of Cambridge was rated as the best in the world for Anthropology in the influential global rankings by QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) in 2018. The Department is also ranked first by the Complete University Guide and What Uni.

The Department of Social Anthropology offers three postgraduate qualifications:  the Master of Philosophy (MPhil), the Master of Research (MRes) and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).


MPhil in Social Anthropology

Street workshop in The Gambia

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.


MPhil in Social Anthropological Research

This MPhil will provide specialist training in Social Anthropology to students with a first degree in the discipline. It will consist of a core course on contemporary themes and professional development, together with an evolving programme of methods teaching and specialist training in cutting edge social anthropology, directly linked to staff research interests.

This new MPhil is for students who have already a strong engagement with the core themes of our discipline but wish to develop their expertise along more specialist lines, either as grounding for a PhD or as preparation for a job outside the academy. 

If you have a degree in Social Anthropology – either as a single track or as part of a joint degree – this MPhil could be for you. 


MPhil in Health, Medicine and Society

Rosie Hospital

The MPhil in Health, Medicine and Society is jointly run by the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Department of Social Anthropology and Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge. In addition to history, sociology and social anthropology, the course also includes ethics and philosophy, thus offering an unparalleled educational experience. It is designed to provide students with combined advanced skills in the social and historical analysis of health and medicine. The course offers a high-level interdisciplinary approach to theory and methodology, build confidence in conceptual and empirical analysis, and ensure familiarity with key scholarly literatures. Research training is a core component of the course, which will enable students to design individual projects, collect and analyse data, and develop substantial arguments based on independent study. 


MRes in Social Anthropology

 David Sneath)

This ESRC-recognised one-year course provides intensive research training in Social Anthropology, social science research methods more generally, and the opportunity to complete a research thesis under academic guidance. You will be best suited to the MRes in Social Anthropology if you already hold an undergraduate degree or Masters in Social Anthropology. You can use this year to work out plans for doctoral research. It is ordinarily expected that MRes students will progress directly to registration for the PhD course and fieldwork, subject to excellent results in their MRes. However, the MRes can also serve as a free-standing project if you wish to pursue advanced study and to acquire additional research skills without proceeding to the PhD programme.


PhD in Social Anthropology

El Alto, Bolivia

A Cambridge PhD is very highly regarded in the field of Anthropology, both in the UK and overseas, and we have some extremely distinguished alumni who have been enormously influential in academic anthropology globally.  The majority of our PhD graduates go on to jobs in academia, while the rest build very successful careers in the media, civil service, and the development sector, among others. We have the largest cohort of postgraduate Anthropology students in the UK. Social Anthropology Cambridge is unparalleled as a place to study for a PhD, combining world class teaching and resources with a friendly but intellectually challenging atmosphere.

Here is one student's comments on studying for his PhD in the Department. 



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