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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


MSc by Research in Social Anthropology

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The application deadline for this programme is 13th July 2018

MSc by Research in Social Anthropology Programme Handbook 2016/17

Our MSc(R) trains anthropologists for careers in the academy and beyond. The MSc(R) is a highly marketable degree which has achieved ESRC recognition over a succession of recognition exercises. Students have gone on to doctoral research at Edinburgh, elsewhere in the UK and overseas, and have also secured a wide range of research positions, as well as professional employment in education, media, community projects, government posts and more.

Aims and Outcomes

The MSc(R) provides either a structured training for anthropological research leading to the PhD, or, as a stand-alone degree, the basis for a research career. It is intended for students with a good first degree in social anthropology or a taught Masters degree in the subject and can be taken as a 1 year, full-time, or 2 year, part-time, degree.
As well as core anthropological research skills, the MSc(R) offers postgraduate students the opportunity to develop their own interests within the framework of its workshops and courses and also the dissertation that forms part of the degree.


A normal programme would involve successful completion of the following core training courses in the Graduate School of Social and Political Studies:

Together with the following courses in the Social Anthropology subject group

  • Advanced Issues in Anthropological Research
  • Social Anthropology Postgraduate Writing Workshop

and up to three optional courses from the graduate school programme of research training, or an appropriate language training course if this is available.

In addition students will work through the year with their supervisors in a programme of systematic review of the secondary literature in their proposed area of research. Supervisors will also advise students of the most appropriate further training in their area of research interest.


The dissertation constitutes the main work in which students demonstrate the extent to which they have achieved the crucial learning outcomes from the first year of research training. It normally takes the form of an extended research proposal with the following components:

  • a review of the literature, both theoretical and empirical;
  • an outline of the specific questions to be addressed, a statement of research design and methods to be employed;
  • an evaluation of the expected contribution of the study to knowledge in social anthropology;
  • a discussion of the practical, political and ethical issues affecting the conduct of the research;
  • a presentation of the schedule for the research, and (where appropriate) its estimated budget.

Where the degree is taken as a stand-alone degree, the dissertation normally includes a component of data collection and analysis, or selection of theoretical documents and analysis.


Dr Jamie Furniss

Social Anthropology Postgraduate Advisor (for Admissions)