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Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

Social Anthropology is no longer accepting new applications.

The PhD 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. A first class Honours degree or strong High Pass in a Master's degree in Social Anthropology is normally required. The course includes intensive fieldwork training in the first year, a research period of 12 to 18 months, and a further year for writing the thesis (a maximum of four years is allowed in total). The part-time course proceeds in a similar sequence but over a longer duration, with a maximum allowed length of seven years.  Students work under the guidance of a Principal Supervisor and a Faculty Advisor, and are supported also by a general research training curriculum and extensive programme of department seminars and workshops. Students beginning their training through the PhD Pre-Fieldwork Course can expect to leave for field research at the end of their third term (June-July).  Part-time students can expect to leave for field research at the end of their second year.  Those beginning through the closely-related MRes course, who then hope to proceed directly to PhD, can expect to leave for their PhD fieldwork in their fourth term (October-December). 

A Cambridge PhD in Social Anthropology is very highly regarded, both in the UK and overseas. We have some extremely distinguished alumni who have been enormously influential in academic Anthropology globally. The majority of our PhD graduates go on to jobs in academia, while others build very successful careers in the media, civil service, and the development sector, among others. The Cambridge University Department of Social Anthropology is unparalleled as a place to study for a PhD, combining world-class teaching and resources with a friendly but intellectually challenging atmosphere. 


MPhil students at Cambridge wishing to continue to the PhD in Social Anthropology are required to achieve a mark of at least 73 overall in the MPhil in Social Anthropology. 

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.

Key Information

3-4 years full-time

5-7 years part-time

Doctor of Philosophy

Department of Social Anthropology

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 15, 2022
Application deadline
May 1, 2023
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2023

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

Course Funding Deadline
Jan. 5, 2023
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 12, 2022

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2023, Lent 2024 and Easter 2024.

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