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.

Key Information

Modes and duration

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

Tuition Fees (2015/16)

£8,755 (FT) £4,375 (PT)
£17,250 (FT) £8,755 (PT)

Application deadlines

All applicants:
31 July 2015

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.

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 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.

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 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 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)- NOW CLOSED FOR 2015/16 ENTRY

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 will offer students career pathways in:

  • Materials Consultancy: advising industry on different materials, old and new, and their technical and aesthetic properties in the design industry
  • Product Marketing: employing ethnographic methodology to understand consumer choices
  • Museums, Libraries and Heritage: with emphasis on careers in the growing sector of materials libraries, heritage consultancy (e.g. UNESCO and curatorship)


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, 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.

Student / staff ratios › 35 staff › 150 taught students › 150 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 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.

Application deadlines

All applicants
31 July 2015

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 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.

Contact Information


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

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