skip to content

Postgraduate Admissions

Course closed:

Social Anthropology is no longer accepting new applications.

The MRes in Social Anthropology 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.

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 (dissertation) and a substantial fieldwork proposal.  The taught portion of the MRes programme is the same as the nine-month PhD pre-fieldwork training programme: students take the same courses in ethnographic methods and social theory, and receive the same close interaction with their supervisor, a senior member of department staff. There is also training in quantitative social science methods.

The course offers critical discussion of students' research projects and provides training in:

  • how fieldwork contributes to social scientific knowledge;
  • how to isolate the theoretical questions that inform particular pieces of ethnography; and
  • how to identify the kinds of empirical evidence necessary to address those questions.

Students work with a main Supervisor and a Faculty Advisor, who acts as a source of supplementary advice. Students will normally continue with this Supervisor if they continue to their PhD.

Additional information for those continuing to the PhD

Students continuing to the PhD will then normally undertake 12–18 months of ethnographic fieldwork subject to the successful completion of a 7,000–word fieldwork proposal and fieldwork clearance interview with the PhD committee.  Students would usually leave for field research at the start of their first term of the PhD (October/November).

On return to Cambridge, students devote the remainder of their research time to writing their PhD dissertation in close consultation with their Supervisor.

Upon return from the field, writing-up students are also expected to attend the following seminars during term-time:

  • The PhD Writing-Up Seminar
  • The Senior Research Seminar
  • Anthropology Beyond the Academy
  • Anthropological Lives

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course students should have:

  1. developed a deeper general knowledge of the comparative, theoretical and epistemological issues underlying contemporary social anthropological research and, where relevant to proposed doctoral research, developed a deeper knowledge of a specific geographical and/or topical area of anthropology and of the critical debates within it;
  2. developed a knowledge of a range of current methods, methodologies and research findings and a conceptual understanding that enables their proper deployment and evaluation; and
  3. where relevant, advanced own plans for field research and undertaken field preparation with reference to both the overall aims of the course and the specific social, ethical and other practical matters relating to their chosen field.


Continuation from the MRes to the PhD is normally subject to achieving a High Pass (a mark of at least 70) in the MRes. Students wishing to continue to the PhD must submit a formal application for continuation during their MRes year., which must be accepted by the PhD Committee.

Open Days

The Postgraduate Virtual Open Day usually takes place at the beginning of November. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions to admissions staff and academics, explore the Colleges virtually, and to find out more about courses, the application process and funding opportunities. Visit the Postgraduate Open Day page for more details.

Further details about the Department's activities during the Open Day will be added to the Social Anthropology website in due course.

Key Information

12 months full-time

Master of Research

Department of Social Anthropology

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2021
Application deadline
April 30, 2022
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2022

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

Graduate Funding Competition
Jan. 6, 2022
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 13, 2021

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2022, Lent 2023 and Easter 2023.

Similar Courses