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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

Programme starts

September 2018

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year
Part time: 2 years

Tuition fees (2018/19)

£10,410 (FT) £5,240 (PT)
£21,160 (FT) £10,740 (PT)

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 16 October 2017
Close: 27 July 2018

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Current Students website.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

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:

About this degree

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.

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

Optional modules

  • Anthropology of the Built Environment
  • Art in the Public Sphere
  • Mass Consumption and Design
  • Anthropology and Photography
  • 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 is available on the department website: 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.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit 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, graduates develop a solid grounding in materials and design literacy, communication and interpersonal skills, new ways of thinking about culture and society and presentational and studio groupwork 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 dedicated 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 the third sector); weekly high-profile academic speakers on material culture; and optional vocational seminars in the Spring Term. 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.

Department: Anthropology

Student / staff numbers › 50 staff including 22 postdocs › 180 taught students › 120 research students
Staff/student numbers information correct as of 1 August 2017.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Anthropology
68% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.

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.

Application fee: There is an application processing fee for this programme of £75 for online applications and £100 for paper applications. More details about the application fee can be found at www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.

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
27 July 2018

Students with enquiries about the academic equivalency of their degree (e.g. 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 Materials, Anthropology 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

Page last modified on 14 November 2017 by UCL Student Recruitment Marketing


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