Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Social Anthropology and Conflict - MA

2019

This programme is run on a bi-annual basis and we are not accepting applications for 2019. If you would like to register your interest in the Social Anthropology and Conflict for 2020 entry, please email sacadmissions@kent.ac.uk.

2019

Overview

An original and exciting approach to learning about other cultures with a special focus on conflict, violence and other forms of suffering.

This programme is grounded in the study of social anthropology, but offers students an in-depth exploration of conflict and violence between and within human communities. Studies include aspects of organised crime, land ownership conflict, war, post-conflict reconstruction and community divisions. It is particularly appropriate for students who want to make the world a better place by understanding and addressing the roots of human suffering.

This programme is designed as an advanced course in social anthropology and is for students who have already studied anthropology either as a degree course or as part of a degree course at undergraduate level. It provides in-depth generalist training in anthropology and is excellent preparation for those embarking on research degrees in anthropology or intending to enter professional fields in which anthropological training is advantageous.

Why study with us?

  • One-year Master's programme.
  • Committed to practice-led theory taught by active researchers with a strong focus on conflict and violence.
  • Hands-on methods training to prepare you for independent research.
  • A wide choice of optional modules allows for further specialisation in areas of expertise.
  • Regional specialisms include Amazon, Southeast and Southern Asia, Europe, Middle East, Central America and Polynesia.
  • Small groups and excellent facilities.

 

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Anthropology and Conservation was ranked 10th for research power and in the top 20 in the UK for research impact and research intensity.

An impressive 94% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Course structure

Modules

You will study six compulsory modules, a dissertation research project and also choose two additional modules in social anthropology from those offered by the School of Anthropology and Conservation.

Compulsory modules for this programme are: SE882, SE883, SE885, SE886, SE820 and SE878

Please note that modules are subject to change. Please contact the School for more detailed information on availability.

Modules may include Credits

The aim of this module is to introduce students to the relevance of anthropological debates to contemporary political issues, specifically in relation to one of the most pertinent and persistent phenomena of the 20th century: violent conflict and war. Students will gain a first hand insight into one of anthropology's main contributions: the way that small-scale issues can be related to much broader and perhaps universal questions about human nature, violence, poverty and inequality. Even though this module will focus on anthropological approaches to violence and conflict, it will also draw on discussions from other disciplines (such as philosophy and political theory), such as human nature, war and genocide, legitimacy and the state. Other topics that will be covered include memory, gender, subjectivity, structural violence, reconstruction and reconciliation, as well as anthropological approaches to peace, emotions and human suffering. In addition, by discussing the ethics of doing research in conflict situations, this module will allow students to critically engage with the challenges, dilemmas and limitations of anthropological research methods. The module is designed in a way that it encourages students to engage with current affairs and to get first insights into how anthropology can contribute to our understanding of political, social and historical events.

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This module aims to develop the anthropological imagination of master's students, that is, to instil the ability to apprehend theoretical issues and apply them with a critical and informed sense of difference in the human experience. The module is not a 'history of theory' survey; rather, it will proceed by means of a set of longstanding themes in social and cultural anthropology through which different theoretical approaches to the same ethnographic problem or issue have been explored. The module may be organised around a single theme that has long dominated anthropological discussions (such as 'the gift', hierarchy and scale, structure and agency etc.) which will be used as a lens through which to view theoretical discussions within social anthropology as well as its appropriations from other disciplines.

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This module aims to aid postgraduate students in making connections between theoretical issues and the ways in which they recur in the practices and debates of social anthropologists. The module teaches theoretical engagement by means of tracking the way that similar problems in ethnographic practice have been approached by different theoretical schools. The module engages a series of themes that illustrate how social anthropologists throughout the history of the discipline, and from different national traditions within the discipline, have each engaged with the pressing political and social concerns of their day.

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The module will consist of twelve two hour classes consisting of short introductions to weekly topics by the course convenors followed by practical exercises to allow students to experience and learn by doing several key methods and tools used in anthropological fieldwork. Assignments based on the use of several methods, a research proposal abstract for their future dissertation project, and an essay will be used to assess the student's achievement of learning outcomes. Seminar topics may include: Introduction to research in the natural and social sciences, participant observation, choosing informants, interviewing, processing interview data, analysis and presentation of qualitative data, questionnaire design and analysis, developing an integrated research design, running workshops and focus groups, ethics and consent.

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Fieldwork is the hallmark of anthropological research. Its style and delivery, as well as the discourses surrounding it, have changed alongside the discipline. In his book Routes, Travel And Translation In The Late Twentieth Century, Clifford (1997) flags two important aspects of fieldwork: first, the formation of intensive interactions and relationships that produce "deep" cultural understanding in settings that can vary in time and location, and, second, a sense of displacement, movement or travel for the fieldworker thus allowing for an objective detached perspective. The ways in which anthropologists strive to interact with people while maintaining objectivity, make research ethics and methodological choices particularly important since their presence in the field has implications on the people whom they study.

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Throughout the terms preceding the initiation of the dissertation module students will be encouraged by their supervisor and the instructors of other modules they take to develop ideas for their dissertation research project. They will also be taught appropriate research methods. The final essay of their pre-dissertation work will draw together materials they have learned through the preceding terms and will synthesise these with students' research interests in order to set up a prospectus for the thesis proposal itself. Students will be passed into the dissertation module by the examiners meeting on the basis of a pre-presented written plan for their research project prepared under supervision by their tutor and modified in relation to questions and comments raised by staff and fellow students during the research presentation day. Subsequent to this, the student will intensively discuss methods of data collection, theoretical models for the analysis of this material, and the use and integration of research methods into both its preparation and its final presentation with his or her supervisor and other concerned members of staff. . The student will then independently work on the thesis over the summer until mid-September when it will be submitted. Throughout this time the student will be able to gain supervision through electronic mail.

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Teaching and Assessment

Assessment for most modules is an essay of 2,000-3,000 words plus participation and/or oral presentation. Some modules include other assessments such as critical book reviews.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • provide you with a broad range of knowledge in the major sub-divisions of the discipline, showing how it is closely linked to other academic disciplines.
  • provide you with an advanced level knowledge of the theoretical and methodological issues relevant to understanding the discipline
  • introduce you to a variety of different approaches to social science research, presented in a multidisciplinary context and at an advanced level
  • facilitate your educational experience through the provision of appropriate pedagogical opportunities for learning
  • provide an appropriate training for students preparing MPhil/PhD theses, or for those going on to employment involving the use of social science research
  • make you aware of the range of existing material available and equip you to evaluate its utility for your research
  • cover the principles of research design and strategy, including formulating research questions or hypotheses and translating them into practicable research designs
  • introduce you to the philosophical, theoretical and ethical issues surrounding research and to debates about the relationship between theory and research, about problems of evidence and inference, and about the limits to objectivity
  • Develop your skills in searching for and retrieving information, using library and internet resources in a multidisciplinary and cross-national context
  • introduce you to the idea of working with other academic and non-academic agencies, when appropriate, and give you the skills to carry out collaborative research
  • develop your skills in writing, in the preparation of a research proposal, in the presentation of research results and in verbal communication
  • help you to prepare your research results for wider dissemination, in the form of seminar papers, conference presentations, reports and publications, in a form suitable for a range of different audiences, including academics, policymakers, professionals, service users and the general public
  • give you an appreciation of the potentialities and problems of anthropological research in local, regional, national and international settings
  • ensure that the research of the Department’s staff informs the design of modules, and their content and delivery in ways which can achieve the national benchmarks of the discipline in a manner which is efficient and reliable, and enjoyable to students.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • social anthropology as the comparative study of human societies
  • specific themes  in social anthropology eg religion, politics, nationalism and ethnicity
  • human diversity and an appreciation of its scope
  • several ethnographic regions of the world including central, West and east Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia (in particular Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines)
  • the history of the development of anthropology as a discipline
  • the variety of theoretical approaches contained within the discipline
  • the process of historical and social change
  • the application of anthropology to understanding issues of social and economic development throughout the world
  • the relevance of anthropology to understanding everyday processes of social life anywhere in the world.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • general learning and study skills
  • critical and analytical skills
  • expression of ideas both orally and in written form
  • communication skills
  • groupwork skills
  • computing skills
  • reviewing and summarising information
  • data retrieval ability.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • the ability to understand how people are shaped by their social, cultural and physical environments while nonetheless possessing a capacity for individual agency which can allow them to transcend some environmental constraints 
  • the ability to recognise the pertinence of an anthropological  perspective to understanding major national and international events.
  • the ability to interpret texts and performance by locating them within appropriate cultural and historical contexts
  • high-level competence in using anthropological theories and perspectives in the presentation of information and argument
  • high-level ability to identify and analyse the significance of the social and cultural contexts of language use
  • the ability to devise questions for research and study which are anthropologically informed
  • the ability to perceive the way in which cultural assumptions may affect the opinions of others and oneself
  • an openness to try and make rational sense of cultural and social phenomena that may appear at first sight incomprehensible.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • the ability to make a structured argument
  • the ability to make appropriate reference to scholarly data
  • time-management skills
  • the use of information technology including computers and library research
  • groupwork
  • handling audio-visual equipment
  • independent research
  • presentation skills
  • have the ability to exercise initiative and personal responsibility
  • have the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

Careers

The School has a very good record for postgraduate employment and academic continuation, 100% of our postgraduate students, who graduated in 2014, found a professional job within six months or continued on to a PhD, ranking Anthropology at Kent 1st in the sector. Studying anthropology, you develop an understanding of the complexity of all actions, beliefs and discourse by acquiring strong methodological and analytical skills. Anthropologists are increasingly being hired by companies and organisations that recognise the value of employing people who understand the complexities of societies and organisations.

Our Social Anthropology Master’s programmes is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as having research training status, so successful completion of these courses is sufficient preparation for research in the various fields of social anthropology. Many of our students go on to do PhD research. Others use their Master’s qualification in employment ranging from research in government departments to teaching to consultancy work overseas.

Many of our alumni teach in academic positions in universities across the world, whilst others work for a wide range of organisations. Examples of positions held by our alumni include:

  • Corporate anthropologist
  • Campaign developer for War Child
  • Project director for the Global Diversity Foundation
  • Curator at Beirut Botanic Gardens
  • Film producer for First German Television
  • Project manager for Porchlight Homelessness Charity.

Hear more from MA Social Anthropology alumni Victor Fiorini who found employment as Detainee-Visitor Manager for Dover Detainee Visitor Group.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The School has a lively postgraduate community drawn together not only by shared resources such as postgraduate rooms, computer facilities (with a dedicated IT officer) and laboratories, but also by student-led events, societies, staff/postgraduate seminars, weekly research student seminars and a number of special lectures.

The School houses well-equipped research laboratories for genetics, ecology, visual anthropology, virtual paleoanthropology, Animal Postcranial Evolution, biological anthropology, anthropological computing, botany, osteology and ethnobiology. The state-of-the-art visual anthropology laboratory is stocked with digital editing programmes and other facilities for digital video and photographic work, and has a photographic darkroom for analogue developing and printing. 

Kent has outstanding anthropology IT facilities. Over the last decade, the School has been associated with many innovatory projects, particularly in the field of cognitive anthropology. It provides an electronic information service to other anthropology departments, for example by hosting both the Anthropological Index Online and Experience-Rich Anthropology project. We encourage all students to use the Centre’s facilities (no previous experience or training is necessary).

Anthropology at Kent has close links with the nearby Powell-Cotton Museum, which has one of the largest ethnographic collections in the British Isles and is particularly strong in sub-Saharan African and Southeast Asian material. It also houses an extensive comparative collection of primate and other mammalian material. Human skeletal material is housed at the Kent Osteological Research and Analysis Centre within the School.

Anthropology, together with the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) form the School of Anthropology and Conservation.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Entry requirements

A good honours degree (2.1 or above) in anthropology or associated fields. In certain circumstances, we will consider students who have not followed a conventional education path. These cases are assessed individually by the Director of Graduate Studies and the programme convenor.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: American EthnologistCurrent AnthropologyJournal of the Royal Anthropological InstituteAmerican Journal of Physical AnthropologyProceedings of the Royal Society B; and Journal of Human Evolution.

Social Anthropology

The regional expertise of our staff has a global reach, with field sites in Europe (including UK), the Middle East, the Balkans, South Asia, Amazonia and Central America, Oceania and Southeast Asia. Themes of conflict, violence, the economic crisis and precarity form a major focus of our current work in these areas, alongside new research on austerity and its social impact, and charity. We have emerging interests in social inequality, work, and organised crime and corruption; and are internationally recognised for our work on ethnicity, nationalism, and identity.

Our research extends to intercommunal violence, diasporas, pilgrimage, intercommunal trade, urban ethnogenesis, indigenous representation and the study of contemporary religions and their global connections (especially Islam). History and heritage is another key theme, with related interests in time and temporality, and the School hosts the leading journal History and Anthropology. Other research addresses the anthropology of natural resources; anthropology of tourism; and post-socialist economy and society in Europe and Central Asia.

We research issues in fieldwork and methodology more generally, with a strong interest in the field of visual anthropology. Our work on identity and locality links with growing strengths in kinship and parenthood. This is complemented by work on the language of relatedness, and the cognitive bases of kinship terminologies

A final focus concerns science, medical anthropology and contemporary society. We work on the anthropology of business, biotechnology, and mental health. Related research focuses on policy and advocacy issues and examines the connections between public health policy and local healing strategies. Staff collaborations and networks extend widely across these regions and thematic interests, and Kent is well-known for its pioneering engagement with the anthropology of Europe.

Digital Anthropology: Cultural Informatics and Computational Methods

Since 1985, we have pioneered new approaches to digital anthropology. Achievements include advances in kinship theory supported by new computational methods. We are exploring cloud media, semantic networks, multi-agent modelling, dual/blended realities, data mining, and smart environments. Current work also addresses quantitative approaches for assessing qualitative materials; mobile computing; sensing and communications platforms, and transformation of virtual into concrete objects.

Visual Anthropology

Visual Anthropology offers a unique opportunity to explore traditional and experimental means of using visual and audio-visual media to research, represent and produce anthropological knowledge. Our pioneering use of multimedia in anthropology is now complemented by an innovative interest in public and collaborative anthropology, critical engagement with policy and the use of audio-visual and internet based media in advocacy and activism.

Grounded in and committed to practice-led theory in social anthropology the modules critically examines the relation of the visual to the other senses and the power of media to move people to action. It also seeks inspiration from outside of disciplinary boundaries for the purposes of engaging wider audiences.

Visit our blog; to watch student videos, see photos from our recent events and watch talks. Our blog will give you a real feel for the exciting life of visual anthropology at Kent.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Dr Miguel Alexiades: Senior Lecturer in Environmental Anthropology/Ethnobotany

Amazonian Peru; Ese Eja; Central Mexico; role and responsibility of science; indigenous land and resource rights; indigenous self-determination; higher education programmes for local communities.

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Dr Judith Bovensiepen: Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology

Anthropology of Southeast Asia; East Timor; place and landscape; kinship and reciprocity; colonial history; conflict; conspiracy talk; postconflict healing and reconstruction.

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Glenn Bowman: Reader in Social Anthropology

West Bank Palestine and the former Yugoslavia; shrines, monumentalisation, pilgrimage, intercommunal relations, identity politics, nationalism, walling; Orthodox and heterodox Christianity, Sufism; anthropological and psychoanalytic approaches to identity; fieldwork theory. 

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Professor Michael Fischer: Professor of Anthropological Sciences

The representation and structure of indigenous knowledge; cultural informatics; the interrelationships between ideation and the material contexts within which ideation is expressed.

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Dr David Henig: Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology

Central Asia and eastern Mediterranean; anthropology of Islam; socialist/post-socialist economy and society; exchange and materiality; cosmological thought; landscape and environment; narrativity and ethnographic theory; social networks and sociality.

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Dr Matthew Hodges: Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology

France, Euskadi, Europe; time, historical consciousness, modernity, rural social transformation, cultural and heritage tourism; science and technology; continental philosophy; public anthropology, creative writing.

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Dr Daniela Peluso: Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology

Gender; exchange theory; kinship; development; indigenous urbanisation; medical anthropology; indigenismo; hybridity; personhood and identity; anthropology of business.

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Professor Joao Pina-Cabral: Professor of Social Anthropology

The relationship between symbolic thought and social power; family and kinship; ethnicity in colonial and postcolonial contexts.

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Dr Mike Poltorak: Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology

Tonga; Oceania; New Zealand; Brighton and Hove; Rajasthan; India; visual anthropology; mental illness; medical anthropology; transnationalism; ethnopsychiatry; vaccination; applied medical anthropology; cultural politics; indigenous epistemologies and modernities; the medical/visual/development anthropology nexus.

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Dr Rajindra K Puri: Senior Lecturer in Environmental Anthropology

Environmental anthropology; ethnobiology; hunting; tropical forests; conservation social science; biodiversity and climate change; South and Southeast Asia.

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Professor Dimitrios Theodossopoulos: Professor of Social Anthropology

Political and environmental anthropology; Panama; Greece; ethnic relations and stereotyping; globalisation and indigeneity; sustainability.

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Dr Anna Waldstein: Lecturer in Medical Anthropology and Ethnobotany

Medical anthropology; ecological anthropology; Mesoamerica; Rastafari; diaspora and migration; the effects of migration and acculturation on health; the use of traditional medical knowledge as an adaptive strategy among migrants; food and health sovereignty.

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Fees

The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Social Anthropology and Conflict - MA at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7500 £15700
Part-time £3750 £7850

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both: