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Postgraduate Study


Teaching for the MPhil is via introductory sessions, seminars, and individual supervision. Each student will have a Supervisor: a member of staff who can provide general guidance throughout the course, as well as advice on the assessed work (practical writing exercise, essays and dissertation).

In addition, students attend a core course seminar and choose a total of six specialist modules to attend during Michaelmas and the first half of the Lent term.  The core seminar runs fortnightly and covers contemporary themes and concerns in social anthropology as well as professional and skills development. The latter includes training in writing research proposals and non-academic outputs, such as blog posts, news items and comment pieces; producing podcasts or other audio-visual material; preparing research presentations.

Each specialist module consists of seminars delivered in 4-week blocks over Michaelmas term and the first half of Lent Term.  Students choose 6 modules from a range on offer each year. These modules cover research methods and topics related to staff research interests, in a dynamic programme, with precise topics varying each year. Seminars are focused around discussions of key readings and enable a thorough exploration of contemporary theories and ethnographies. Two of the available specialist modules offer training in anthropological research methods and ethics.

Students may also attend any lecture they or their supervisor consider relevant to their work.

One to one supervision

Students will meet regularly with their Supervisor for one-on-one supervisions throughout the course. Frequency of supervisions will vary depending on the time of year; overall, students can expect approximately ten hours of supervisory engagement over the course of the year. 

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision.

Seminars & classes

Seminars: 30 hours in Michaelmas term, 24 hours in Lent term, 6 hours in Easter term.  


Lectures: variable, according to student needs.


Students will share written work with supervisors and receive oral and written feedback on that.  

Students complete one short practical writing exercise, two assessed essays and one dissertation over the year on all of which they will receive written feedback from the assessors.

Supervisors submit online progress reports at the end of each term on the student's CamSIS account.


Thesis / Dissertation

A dissertation of not more than 13,000 words, including title page and footnotes, but excluding synopsis, tables, appendices, and bibliography on a subject approved by the Archaeology, Anthropology and Sociology Degree Committee, which must not overlap with the subject of any assessed essay offered by the candidate.  

An oral examination may be held at the discretion of the examiners. If needed this would take place in late July.

The dissertation counts for 50 per cent of the total marks.


Two independently-written, analytical essays of not more than 5,000 words, including title page and footnotes, but excluding figures, tables, appendices and bibliography, on a subject chosen by the candidate and approved by the Degree Committee.

The subject of the essays must not overlap with that of the dissertation. 

Each essay counts for 20 per cent of the total marks.

Practical assessment

One practical writing exercise of not more than 2,000 words. The format for this exercise will be announced before the course begins, and can include a PhD research proposal, a blog post, newspaper article, or short policy report.

The exercise counts for 10 per cent of the total marks.

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Key Information

9 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Department of Social Anthropology

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2024

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
May 1, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

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