Home Menu


Materials, Anthropology and Design MA

The MA is for people with a personal passion for material culture, materials innovations, crafts, designs, heritage, and the cultural issues which they present. Some are social scientists rethinking the engagement of anthropology, ethnography and material culture; others are designers or makers exploring cultural and social issues.

Key Information

Modes and duration

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

Programme start date

September 2016

Tuition Fees (2016/17)

£9,020 (FT) £4,510 (PT)
£18,670 (FT) £9,285 (PT)

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 5 October 2015
Close: 29 July 2016

Entry Requirements

Normally 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.

English Language Requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Advanced

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:

Degree Information

Students will study anthropological and material culture theory, apply social science and ethnographic methodologies to the problems of design, explore the technical, aesthetic and symbolic properties of materials, and examine how these interact with production technologies and consumption choices. They will develop understanding of how working with materials, crafts, and design helps us to rethink, understand, and critique socio-cultural issues in ways beyond other disciplines, and in cutting-edge anthropological ways. sociocultural issues.

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

  • Materials, Anthropology and Design


  • 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
  • Ethnographic Film
  • Archaeobotanical Analysis in Practice
  • Archaeometallurgy 1: Mining and Extractive Technology
  • Archaeometallurgy 2: Metallic Artefacts
  • Archaeological Glass and Glazes
  • Interpreting Pottery
  • Lithic Analysis
  • Archaelogical Ceramics and Plaster
  • Issues in Conservation: Understanding Objects


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 information on modules and degree structure available on the department web site Materials, Anthropology and Design MA


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 relevant to this department are displayed (where available) below. For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme (CSSS) - SUCCESSFUL CANDIDATES HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED FOR 2016/17

Full fees, flights, stipend, and other allowances (1 year)
Overseas students
Based on both academic merit and financial need

More scholarships are listed on the Scholarships and Funding website


The unique combination of scientific and social science training offers students career pathways in a range of areas including:

  • Design research
  • Design consultancy and policy
  • Heritage and Museums
  • Materials consultancy: advising industry on different materials, old and new, and their technical and aesthetic properties
  • Product marketing
  • Fashion marketing and buying
  • Academia (PhDs, lecturing)


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.

Why study this degree at UCL?

UCL is a world leader in anthropological work, specialising in material culture, and also a pan-disciplinary leader in materials innovation and making. This MSc is the only specific design anthropology programme with a material culture emphasis, and the only one educated to seriously exploring materials and making in cultural terms.

The programme involves interdisciplinary engagements in: looking at materials expertise across London through visits to makespaces and materials libraries; a project for an external design client (in commerce, heritage, or third-sector); weekly high-profile academic speakers on material culture; and optional vocational seminars in spring. In some years we facilitate participation in conferences or workshops abroad.

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.

Student / staff ratios › 40 staff including 15 postdocs › 149 taught students › 120 research students

Department: Anthropology

Application and next steps


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.

Who can apply?

This programme is primarily aimed at anthropologists who wish to explore design and materials in more depth, for example as ways to make their anthropological thinking and ethnographic work engage with a range of audiences. It is also for a range of makers and designers (graphics, products, architecture, fashion, craft, fine arts, services) who wish to think about and research the social and cultural dimensions of their interests. Lastly, it is for those with an interest in materials innovation or a specific material.

Application deadlines

All applicants
29 July 2016
Applications are often in spring. Students with enquiries about the academic equivalency of their degree (eg. from some design schools) or language please contact the programme co-ordinator Adam Drazin.

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:
  • why you want to study Anthropology, Materials and Design at graduate level
  • why you want to study at UCL
  • how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of a challenging academic environment
  • where you would like to go professionally, vocationally and/or academically 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.

Contact Information


  • Register interest in your chosen subjects
  • Receive notice of graduate open days, events and more
Register now

Life and learning

At UCL we're proud of our pioneering history, our distinguished present and our exciting future. UCL is a great place to be a student.

  • World-leading reputation
  • Extensive connections that benefit your study and career
  • The best and brightest staff and students from over 150 countries
Find out more