Materials, Anthropology and Design MA

The MA is for people who are interested in thinking about culture and society, and developing social research skills, to work with or in design, materials, crafts, and heritage. The course involves anthropological analytical skills, ethnographic methods, and group-work, to critically examine the social implications of materials and design.

Mode of study

  • Full-time 1 year
  • Part-time 2 years

Tuition fees

  • UK/EU Full-time: £8,500
  • UK/EU Part-time: £4,250
  • Overseas Full-time: £16,750
  • Overseas Part-time: £8,500

Application date

  • All applicants: 1 August 2014

More details in Application section.

What will I learn?

Students will apply social science methodologies to the problems of design, explore the technical, aesthetic and symbolic properties of specific materials, and examine how these interact with production technologies and consumption choices. They will develop understandings of how working with design and material helps us to reformulate and understand sociocultural issues.

Why should I study this degree at UCL?

UCL, with its interdisciplinary academic expertise in social and scientific approaches to material culture present in anthropology and archaeology, offers the ideal laboratory space for students to approach questions of design and materials design in the 21st century.

The interaction between archaeologists and anthropologists will provide the fertile ground to bring both scientific/technical approaches and social approaches together, facilitating a new socially and technically informed perspective on materials and design.

UCL is located in central London, within walking distance to the British Museum and the British Library. UCL's own museums and collections form a resource of international importance for academic research.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. The programme consists of one core module (45 credits) three optional modules (45 credits), a departmental seminar series and a research dissertation (90 credits).

Core Modules

  • Culture, Materials and Design


  • Archaeobotanical Analysis in Practice
  • Archaeometallurgy 1: Mining and Extractive Technology
  • Archaeometallurgy 2: Metallic Artefacts
  • Archaeological Glass and Glazes
  • Interpreting Pottery
  • Lithic Analysis
  • Archaeological Ceramics and Plaster
  • Issues in Conservation: Understanding Objects
  • Anthropology of the Built Environment
  • Anthropology of Art and Design
  • Mass Consumption and Design
  • Anthropology of Cultural Heritage and Museum Anthropology
  • Social Construction of Landscape


All MA students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 15,000 words.

Teaching and Learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, and tutorials. Several courses entail practical instruction, including visits to product design companies and trade fairs; archaeological field sites; Kew Botanical Archive and the British Museum. Assessment is through unseen examination, long essays, research methodology project and the dissertation.

Further details available on subject website:


UK and EU students are eligible to apply for Arts and Humanities Research Council funding.

Those who are accepted for this Master's programme may also be eligible to apply to the Institute for English Heritage funded bursaries.

Scholarships available for this department

Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme (CSSS)

This scholarship is to assist prospective Master's students from developing Commonwealth countries who are of excellent academic calibre but for financial reasons would not otherwise be able to afford to study in the United Kingdom. Students must not have previously studied for one year or more in a developed country and must hold the equivalent of a UK first- or upper second-class undergraduate degree. Students must have applied to study one of the 10 eligible Master's programmes. Students must return to their home country on completion of their degree.

Dame Mary Douglas Awards

To be considered for one of these awards, you must apply to one of our eligible courses by Wednesday 14th May, 2014. There is no need for a separate application. The fee waivers will be awarded on academic merit. The awards are only available to those intending to start in September 2014, and do not already have a significant scholarship or award.

Further information about funding and scholarships can be found on the Scholarships and funding website.

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

International equivalencies

Select your country for equivalent alternative requirements

English language proficiency level: Good

How to apply

Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

The deadline for applications is 1 August 2014.

Who can apply?

This programme is primarily aimed at design, fine art and science students who wish to undertake training in social and historical approaches to sustainable materials and develop expertise in this field. It will also be attractive to materials industry professionals who wish to develop their career and gain specialist skills.

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Culture, Materials and Design at graduate level
  • why you want to study Culture, Materials and Design at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of a challenging academic environment
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree
Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.


The unique combination of scientific and social science training will offer students career pathways in:

  • Design ethnography, user research and design research
  • Materials consultancy: advising industry on different materials, old and new, and their technical and aesthetic properties in the design industry
  • Museums, Libraries and Heritage: with emphasis on careers in the growing sector of materials libraries, heritage consultancy (e.g. UNESCO and curatorship)
  • Craft and making-based community activism and teaching
  • Product and service marketing: employing ethnographic methodology to understand user choices


In addition to analytic and ethnographic skills honed by the core academic training, the degree programme develops in its graduates a solid grounding in materials and design literacy, communication and interpersonal skills, new ways of thinking about culture and society and presentational and studio group-work skills.

Our graduates are equipped to collaboratively engage with different materials and design approaches for working alongside, and in conjunction with, designers, engineers, heritage professionals, environmentalists, materials scientists, and others with a pragmatic interest in materials and design.

Next steps


Mr James Emmanuel

T: +44 (0)20 7679 1040



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