skip to content
Street workshop in The Gambia

The Cambridge MPhil by Advanced Study in Social Anthropology is an intensive 11-month (October to September) graduate degree programme intended as a conversion course for students with little or no previous training in anthropological methods and perspectives. 

The MPhil 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.

The course addresses key problems in anthropological theory, interpretation, comparison and analysis, building on in-depth engagement with a wide range of recent and past ethnographies to explore major debates in the field's current concerns.  Through critical reflection on a range of anthropological theories, and through practice in the application of those theories to bodies of ethnographic material, students acquire a thorough grounding in a variety of styles of social anthropological analysis.

Further information about applying to the University, including instructions on how to submit your supporting documents, is available from the Graduate Admissions website. All prospective applicants should read the information on the Graduate Admissions website carefully prior to applying. To apply, visit the MPhil pages in the Graduate Admissions Course Directory.

Applications for October 2020-21 entry are now open and close at noon on 30 April 2020. Applications for funding close at noon on 7 January 2020).

Papers offered for 2020/21

Paper 1 Scope of SA I: Production & Reproduction

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

Paper 3 Option Paper - see below

Paper 4 (non assessed) Theory, Methods and Enquiry in Social Anthropology

Option Papers offered for 2020/21

Please make clear on your application if you are interested in the Anthropology and Museums option.

Please note,  the Medical Anthropology option will not be available in 2020-21.

Supervision of Graduate Students


All MPhil students who are admitted to the Department of Social Anthropology will be assigned a Supervisor to support and guide their work. Your supervisor will be an expert in his or her field of research and will meet you regularly to discuss your work and oversee your progress.


The Department has excellent facilities to support graduate students.

The Haddon Library houses a wide range of anthropological literature, journals, access to online materials and copies of previous MPhil and PhD theses dating back over a century,

The Mongolia & Inner Asia Studies Unit is a dynamic interdisciplinary research unit at the University of Cambridge based within the Department of Social Anthropology. It was founded in 1986 by Professor Caroline Humphrey and Professor Urgunge Onon and has since become a centre of international importance for studies on the region.

The Department is particularly proud to host a significant research collection in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Several of the Museum's curators also teach in the Department:

The Department has a well-equipped Visual Anthropology laboratory, with a selection of cameras, and workstations with film-editing software and a large collection of anthropological films.

The Department hosts a vibrant student society, CUSAS, run by undergraduate and postgraduate students. CUSAS run a series of activities across the academic year, details of which can be found at:

The Department runs a series of events entitled Anthropology, Beyond the Academy, in which speakers from a range of careers reflect on the ways in which having studied anthropology has informed their work. Highlights in 2018-19 have included artist Sir Antony Gormley, author, publisher and philanthropist Dr Sigrid Rausing, and contributors from such fields as advertising, public administration, international health care, and global aid and diplomacy.

The Department provides a basement area for exclusive use of postgraduate students, which includes desk space for post-fieldwork doctoral research students who are writing up their dissertations and a separate room for MPhil students.

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology is a free, open access teaching and learning resource hosted by the University of Cambridge. Its goal is to facilitate access to scholarship in Social Anthropology for experts and non-experts worldwide. All entries are written and peer-reviewed by leading academics.

Students also have access to a range of University-wide support, including language learning through the Language Centre, training on research methods through the SSRMC, careers advice through the Cambridge University Careers Service and support for disabled students from the Disability Resource Centre. Students can also access various Area Studies centres in the university: African, Middle Eastern, Latin American, South Asian, Mongolia and Inner Asian and the Scott Polar Research Institute.



open day