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Mongolia (credit: David Sneath)

This ESRC-recognised 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.

The MRes course is intended for students who already have full training at undergraduate and/or Master's level in the methods and perspectives of Social/Cultural Anthropology. A first class Honours degree or strong High Pass in a Master's degree in Social Anthropology is normally required.

The MRes can also serve as a free-standing degree if you wish to pursue advanced study and to acquire additional research skills without proceeding to the PhD programme.

The course is a one-year period of rigorous training in research issues and methods that leads to the production of an independently-researched 15,000 word dissertation and a substantial research project proposal. 

The taught part of the programme is the same as the 9-month pre-fieldwork part of the PhD, so you will take the same courses in ethnographic methods and social theory, and have the same close interaction with your supervisor. In addition, you will be trained in quantitative social science methods. Apart from the additional training in quantitative social science methods, the main difference between the two routes to a PhD lies in how they are assessed.

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) recognition

If you are a UK or EU student, you should note that, in order to be eligible for an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) award, you must do a one-year research training Master’s degree at a recognised outlet. The MRes in Social Anthropology has ESRC recognition and is equivalent to the MSc by Research or MRes degrees awarded by other UK universities. These qualifications are transferable: if you already have an ESRC-recognised research training master’s degree from another university, you can normally expect to begin the fieldwork for your Cambridge PhD without further training, following our normal fieldwork clearance procedure. Further details are available on the ESRC website.

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 MRes pages in the Graduate Admissions Course Directory.


Supervision of Graduate Students


All 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.

Prospective MRes and PhD students are encouraged to consult the Department's Academic Staff Directory to help them in identifying a potential supervisor. One of the requirements for admission of applicants wishing to undertake a research degree is the agreement of a senior member (normally a member of Departmental staff) to act as supervisor of the student's work. Those seeking admission may indicate on their application form whether they have a specific supervisor in mind: this is not compulsory, and it does not guarantee that the named individual will agree to act as supervisor.



The Department has excellent facilities to support research 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.

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 Research Seminars at one of the Area Studies centres in the university: African, Middle Eastern, Latin American, South Asian, Mongolia and Inner Asian and the Scott Polar Research Institute.



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