Social Anthropology - Humanitarian and Environmental Crises - MA

Our world is experiencing humanitarian and environmental challenges of disturbing dimensions. This programme addresses these challenges from a human and ethical angle, exploring the social, political, economic and technological aspects of the crises that mark our contemporary world.


Study Social Anthropology to deepen your understanding the roots of global challenges and human suffering – and to make a difference to today’s complex world. Our programme provides excellent preparation for a wide range of careers such as non-governmental organisations aimed at humanitarian issues and state initiatives providing aid in response to conflict or planetary emergency.

Reasons to study Social Anthropology at Kent

What you’ll learn

You’ll explore how to study humanitarian or environmental crises from an anthropological point of view using a variety of ethnographic research methods, such as interviewing, participant observation, and localised surveys.

Assess key challenges emerging from humanitarian initiatives that respond to the global climate emergency; environmental movements in national contexts; migration, diaspora and refugee crises; racism, xenophobia and national politics; war and conflict; new forms of economic oppression; and the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences for vulnerable communities.

Entry requirements

A first or second class honours degree 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, professional qualifications and relevant experience may 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. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

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.


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Course structure

Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time


You study two compulsory modules, a dissertation research project and also choose five optional modules from those offered by the School of Anthropology and Conservation and, if appropriate, by other Schools. The course structure allows flexibility and we encourage students to pursue knowledge that supports their individual research interests.

Compulsory modules for this programme are: 

Indicative list of optional modules:

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


Teaching and assessment

We praise ourselves for assessing most modules with diverse and creative methods of assessment, which allow students to cultivate reflexive thinking and their personal analytical styles. There are no exams.

Programme aims

  • enhanced understanding of how humanitarian intervention is shaped by political, social and cultural contexts;
  • in-depth understanding of environmental politics and protest, including the climate emergency;
  • advanced-level knowledge of the central theoretical and methodological issues in social anthropology today;
  • advanced-level knowledge of different approaches to social science research in a multidisciplinary perspective, with special reference in qualitative, intensive research;
  • intensive training for students preparing MPhil/PhD theses, or for employment involving the use of social science research; research design and strategy, including translating questions into practicable research designs and retrieving information in multidisciplinary and cross-national contexts.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • social anthropology as the comparative study of human societies with special reference to humanitarianism, social movements, environmental disputes, climate protest, and the politics of nationalism and ethnicity
  • several ethnographic regions of the world, in particular Europe, the Middle-East, South America, Southeast Asia and Eastern Asia
  • anthropological theory as applied to contemporary concerns;
  • the application of anthropology to understanding issues of development, social and economic change, and violence and conflict throughout the world
  • the relevance of anthropology to understanding everyday processes of social life

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • criticism and analysis
  • communication
  • groupwork
  • data retrieval, reviewing and summarising information
  • project-writing
  • presentation of research results

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • understanding of people’s relation to environmental and humanitarian crises
  • understanding major national and international events, namely in terms of aid provision, humanitarian intervention, and ethical concerns
  • interpreting narratives and performances 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
  • the ability to devise questions for research and study which are anthropologically informed
  • an openness to make rational sense of perplexing cultural and social phenomena. 
  • ethnographic research and analysis

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • the ability to make a structured argument, analyse and reference scholarly data
  • the ability to mine data bases, carry out interviews, and mobilise participant observation
  • the use of information technology including computers and library research for qualitative research
  • handling audio-visual equipment
  • research writing and presentation skills
  • the ability to exercise initiative and personal responsibility 
  • independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.


The fees for the 2024/25 year have not yet been set. As a guide, the tuition fees for postgraduate study in 2023/24 are shown below.

Social Anthropology, Humanitarian and Environmental Crises - MA at Canterbury

  • Home full-time £9500
  • EU full-time £13500
  • International full-time £18000
  • Home part-time £4750
  • EU part-time £6750
  • International part-time £9000

Social Anthropology, Humanitarian, and Environmental Crises - PDip at Canterbury

  • Home full-time £6400
  • EU full-time £9000
  • International full-time £12000
  • Home part-time £3200
  • EU part-time £4500
  • International part-time £6000

Social Anthropology, Humanitarian, and Environmental Crises - PCert at Canterbury

  • Home full-time £3200
  • EU full-time TBC
  • International full-time £6000
  • Home part-time £1600
  • EU part-time TBC
  • International part-time £3000

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

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

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Additional costs

General additional costs

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


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

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

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Research areas

Research culture

As a School we engage with local, national and international partners to produce high-quality research that has a positive impact in the wider community. By combining laboratory research with fieldwork, academic staff and students are able to monitor and survey in depth a variety of topics, ranging from ethnographic studies to forensic bioarchaeology, species conservation and land-use changes.

Social Anthropology

We are interested in developments in the study of epistemologies, cognition, temporalities, ethnicity, indigeneity, religion, exchange, conflict, social change, historical consciousness, heritage and geopolitics. We are at the forefront of contemporary debates in identity, social and economic crises, hybrid law, personhood, mobility, migration, landscape, labour, organisations, industry, cultural informatics, political ecology, ethnoecology, ethnobiology, ethnobotany and visual, environmental and medical anthropology. Our research projects span the globe, including the UK and Europe, Central and Southeast Asia, North and Central America, South America the Middle East and Pacific.

Current and recent work is linked to the informal economy, cosmopolitanism, corruption, workplace environments, the economic crisis, precarity, prosperity, ethics, value, morality, skill expertise, symbolic ecology, intercommunal relations, Islamic movements, indigenous urbanisation, human rights, diplomacy, and tourism.

The social anthropology research area is linked to the Centre for Biocultural Diversity (CBCD) as well as the Centre for Ethnographic Research (CER) and Lowland South Americanist European Network.


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.

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.

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MA at Canterbury

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T: +44 (0)1227 768896


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