Social Anthropology with Visual Ethnography - MA

The MA in Social Anthropology with Visual Ethnography offers a unique opportunity to explore traditional and experimental means of using visual and audio-visual media to research, represent and produce anthropological knowledge.

Overview

It teaches visual anthropology theory and practice in combination with the expansive research methodologies and ethnographic focus of social anthropology. You explore the use of collaborative video production to represent anthropological knowledge, developing critical skills of visual and multi-sensory analysis. You have access to professional video equipment and video-editing software and have the opportunity to submit a mixed A/V dissertation.

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 designed for those who wish to gain a strong grounding in visual anthropology while gaining practical skills and developing their own expertise and interests in new, productive and collaborative areas.

Why study with us?

  • One year Master's programme.
  • Integration between social anthropology and visual anthropology supports the development of expansive, creative, ethnographically grounded and issues based interests.
  • Emphasis on experience-based learning through local outreach and collaboration in local placements.
  • Committed to practice-led theory taught by active researchers.
  • Hands-on methods training to prepare you for independent research.
  • A wide choice of optional modules allows for further specialisation in areas of expertise.
  • Small group and feedback-based teaching using state-of-the-art digital video, sound recording, photographic equipment and web-based platforms.
  • Supportive, international and friendly atmosphere facilitating collaboration and learning within the school across regional and theoretical areas.

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, professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country.  Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

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

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.

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

Teaching

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 videos.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • 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 Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, Middle East, North Africa, SE Asia, Latin America and the Pacific
  • 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.

Fees

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

  • Home/EU full-time £7500
  • International full-time £15700
  • Home/EU part-time £3750
  • International part-time £7850

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 information@kent.ac.uk

Additional costs

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:

Independent rankings

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 power.

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.

Research

Research areas

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: American Ethnologist; Current Anthropology; Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute; American Journal of Physical Anthropology; Proceedings 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.

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.

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.

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. Anthropology students 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.

As a School recognised for its excellence in research we are one of the partners in the South East Doctoral Training Centre, which is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). This relationship ensures that successful completion of our courses is sufficient preparation for research in the various fields of social anthropology.

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. You might also enjoy reading about Ruth Krause who studied MA Visual Anthropology (now MA in Social Anthropology with Visual Ethnography).

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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Learn more about the applications process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

Once started, you can save and return to your application at any time.

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United Kingdom/EU enquiries

MA at Canterbury

Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 768896

E: information@kent.ac.uk

Subject enquiries

Rebekah McComas, Recruitment and Admissions Co-ordinator

T: +44 (0)1227 827013

E: sacadmissions@kent.ac.uk

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International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254
E: internationalstudent@kent.ac.uk