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Students on this Masters are automatically affiliated to, and participate in, the Human Ecology Research Group with its long record of fostering outstanding postgraduate and postdoctoral research.

Staff and students have carried out a diverse range of research programmes and projects all over the world.

Common themes include: Resource use; livelihoods; poverty; biodiversity; conservation; development; corporate social responsibility; demography; migration & mobility; environmental change. All this research has been carried out in forests; wetlands; drylands; cloud forests; marine areas; urban and peri-urban areas... read more



Photo Description: Maasai cattle in the highlands of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania. Source Sara Randall

Students choose two options from a wide range of Masters course options available at the UCL Department of Anthropology. Where timetabling permits, students are also able to take other relevant options from other departments. The first three courses in the list below are particularly designed for students on this Masters and students must select at least one of these. The remaining courses are some of the other popular choices taken by our students:

ANTHGE06 - Anthropology of Development

PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Marc Brightman

The course will cover major topics in the anthropology of development. The course will look at debates about the aims and purpose of development and consider questions about what makes a good society and what is ‘good change’.  This will be contrasted with the actual workings of the development industry in the context of greater processes of international political economy and globalization. The course will explore anthropological critiques of development from a wide range of angles and variety of scales (international, national, local, project). It will use a broad range of ethnographic material to look at both the workings of the development industry and its impacts on the people it seeks to benefit.

ANTHGE03 - Population and Development - not offered in 2014/15

PG Seminar - Timetable

Prof Sara Randall

The course introduces students to a range of development related issues in population through examining topical issues, which are relevant to development and development interventions with a particular focus on fertility and mortality in developing countries. Data collection methods are a constant theme and we reflect on how these influence both academic and interventionist perspectives on population. There is an introductory meeting followed by 10 seminars where students are expected to present key issues from articles they have read, followed by more general discussion. Students may choose to also attend some of the Population Studies (ANTH7005) lectures in Term 1. Each student will submit two essays. The one with the higher mark will be put forward for assessment

ANTHGE02 - Ecology of Human Groups

PG Seminar – Timetable

Prof Katherine Homewood

This course introduces the ecology of four different types of rural production system in less developed countries: Gathering/hunting societies, farmers, pastoralists and fishers. The course will run from halfway through Term 1 through to the end of Term 2.  It combines social and natural sciences approaches to the study of rural populations in developing countries. Starting with rather separate bodies of knowledge the course aims to integrate insights and perspectives from the different disciplines as the course goes along. You may find the following journals useful general browsing: Human Ecology, Development and Change.

Meetings commonly involve an hour of staff talks outlining general principles behind the topic, and an hour of student presentations and discussion - these are backed up by several hours directed reading each week. 

ANTHGD12 - Medical Anthropology

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Joe Calabrese

This course provides a framework by topic on which to construct an analysis of medicine and human wellbeing as practiced in any one system of healing--cosmopolitan, traditional, or hybrid. Examples and readings are drawn from a range of contemporary cultures as well as from ‘classic’ ethnographic texts, addressing in particular how diverse forms of embodiment challenge the anthropologist as participant observer. The course focuses on the ‘therapeutic triangle’ of patient, healer, and community, as well as the manner in which each of these components functions in the construction of illness and wellbeing. In addition, the course examines the cognitive construction of illness and medical expertise, the epistemologies of healing and healing systems, and the ways in which risk and efficacy are understood and managed in therapeutic encounters by individuals and groups.

ANTHGC12 - Anthropology of the Built Environment

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Victor Buchli

Buildings are good to think. This course will explore anthropological approaches to the study of architectural forms. It will focus primarily on the significance of domestic space and public private boundaries, gender and body, the materiality of architectural form and materials and the study of architectural representations. The course will be structured chronologically beginning with early anthropological encounters with built forms and the philosophical, historical and social context of these approaches up to the present day within anthropology.

ANTHGC21 - Social Construction of Landscape

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Prof Chris Tilley

Landscapes are never inert: people engage with them, re-work them, appropriate them and contest them. They are part of the way in which identities are created and disputed. Criss-crossing between history and politics, social relations and cultural perceptions, landscape is a ‘concept of high tension’. It is also an area of study that blows apart from conventional boundaries between disciplines. This course looks at the number of theoretical approaches to the Western Gaze; colonial, indigenous and prehistoric landscapes; contested landscapes; and questions of heritage and ‘wilderness’.

Other masters courses in the department which students may take, after consultation with the Masters tutor include:

ANTHGC13 - Anthropology of Art and Design

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Prof Susanne Kuechler

The course is aimed at those who wish to deepen their understanding of the material in visual culture. It provides an overview of 19th century theory of style and reveals the long shadow it cast on contemporary art. Both theoretically and materially, the course will focus on 'assemblage' art, tracing phenomena such as the 'scrap-book', collage, and recyclia in western culture as well as contemporary 'non-western' examples as found mainly in the culture of Voodoo, and in the cultures of Oceania.

ANTHGS17 - Documentary Film and the Anthropological Eye

PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Mark Le Fanu

Through the presentation of a range of ethnographic, documentary, fiction and ‘current affairs/news’ films (including historic material) we will explore the ways in which film can frame and convey ethnographic investigation. We will look at the basic possibilities and limitations of film for going beyond traditional written ethnography to communicate the significance, style and substance of other modes of life as well as considering film as a distinct means to explore social interaction through what you might describe as its ‘call to performance.’

Against the grain of current trends, rather than read films ‘intertextually,’ or as part of a closed world of ‘discourse’ we will endeavour, together, to discover the historical and social contexts in which filmic ethics and aesthetics have developed. It has become fashionable to lament a past when ethnographers were ‘orientalists.’ One of the dangers of such interpretive strategies is that they tend to glorify ourselves in a distorted mirror of ‘post modern otherness’. This course will encourage you to question such naïve (and patronising) approaches.

ANTHGS25 - Practical Documentary Filmmaking (Lab-based)

PG Lecture - Timetable

Lasse Johansson

The course will train students in the practical and creative skills of video and digital technology to represent and document social and ethnographic research to a broadcast standard. For anthropology students there will be a requirement to complete a film theory course as well either for grade or as audit (ANTHGS17). Each student will be assessed on the quality of a 10-15 minute short documentary to be devised, shot and edited during the course by each student. This course will entail a lab fee for UCL students of £1,025 on top of any fee for a Masters degree to cover the staff costs of putting on this course. Students will have full access to the UCL Anthropology Audio Visual lab with 11 Final Cut Pro enabled Macs as well as cameras for the duration of the course. Students and others from outside UCL may take this course, for an unsubsidised rate of £1,500. Students who bring their own cameras will be reimbursed £180. 

If you wish to take part in this module, either as a part of your Masters degree at UCL or otherwise, you will need to make a £500 deposit to secure your place. The deposit is strictly non-refundable, so please only make the payment if you are fully committed to taking the module. To make the deposit please contact Paul Carter-Bowman (p.carter-bowman@ucl.ac.uk).

ANTHGS16 - Anthropology of Nationalism, Ethnicity and Race

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Ruth Mandel

This course focuses on theories and practices of ethnicity, race and nationalism. The reading material is divided between theoretical work on these issues and a variety of ethnographic examples. Though most of the readings are contemporary, historical sources will be used as well. The course will combine lectures, seminar discussion, student presentations, and a few relevant films. Attendance at all sessions is a requirement.

ANTHGS18 - Gender, Language and Culture

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Alex Argenti-Pillen

This course explores the linguistic construction of gendered cultures. It is built around a set of key ethnographies on language and gender:

  • Veiled sentiments - Abu-Lughod
  • The hidden life of girls – Goodwin
  • Masking terror – Argenti
  • Vicarious language – Inoue
  • Pronouncing and persevering – Hirsch
  • Eloquence in trouble - Wilce
  • I could speak until tomorrow – Barber
  • Gender in Crisis - Peteet
  • In the realm of the diamond queen - Tsing
  • Beauty and power – Johnson

The lectures include multi-media presentations, and draw on theory within contemporary linguistic anthropology. First of all we consider linguistic relativism, and the language socialization of boys and girls in differing cultural contexts. This initial debate provides a framework to consider gendered affective regimes, soundscapes, and verbal art. Finally, we consider the impact of rapid cultural change, globalization and modernization on language and gender: the loss of genres/gender, the postmodern construction of voices, and emerging rhetorical and ironic selves.

ANTHGC09 - Anthropology and Photography

PG Seminar - Timetable

Prof Chris Pinney

This course has three central purposes: to provide a historical introduction to the way in which anthropologists have used photography, to provide a grounding in photographic theory, and to encourage students to think how they might best use photography in their own anthropological projects. We will explore how photography was used both before and after the systematization of fieldwork as the central anthropological method, explore criticisms of photography's "externality", and look at recent ethnographies of  "vernacular" photographic practices. The course is assessed by an essay and a portfolio.

ANTHGD10 - Anthropologies of Science, Society and Biomedicine

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Sahra Gibbon

This course will critically engage with recent anthropological research and theory addressing the social and cultural context of novel developments in the field of genetics, biotechnology and the life/medical sciences.  These shape shifting arenas of science and technology and their actual or predicted implications for questions of disease risk, collective/individual identity and the politics and ethics of health care has been the focus of much recent research within medical anthropology, STS (Science and Technology Studies) and the anthropology of science.  The course incorporates emerging research in different national contexts that include the ‘global south’ drawing on ethnographic work in Asia and South America to provide a critical comparative perspective on these transnational developments. 

ANTHGD21 - Ritual Healing and Therapeutic Emplotment

PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Joe Calabrese

This course covers ritual healing practices and "emplotment" in therapeutic narratives in small scale societies and in modern biomedical settings. It will include discussions of ritual, symbolism, narrative, clinical care, postcolonial revitalization movements, spirit possession, and the social production and ethnographic description of healing experiences in sociopolitical context. The course will combine the perspectives of medical anthropology, psychological anthropology and the social anthropology of religion and ritual.

ANTHGS13 - Cosmos, Society and the Political Imagination

PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Martin Holbraad, Dr Allen Abramson, with guest seminars by Prof Bruce Kapferer

How do people’s varied ways of imagining the cosmos and their position within it frame the ways in which they live? And what difference do these ‘cosmologies’ make to the way anthropologists might imagine different social realms, such as economic arrangements, political ideologies, or religious practices? Exploring the significance of cosmological thinking in a variety of social settings, this course addresses such themes as mythology, ritual, and cinema as prime sites for imagining the horizons of life and the cosmos; the roles of science and secularism in contemporary society and their relationship with religious discourses; the role of cosmological ideas in political activism and discourse; the cosmological horizons of modernity, capitalism, and neoliberal economies. The course is co-taught by Allen Abramson and Martin Holbraad, and will involve guest lectures by Bruce Kapferer, one of the leading anthropologists of cosmology of his generation. Solid background knowledge of social anthropology will be assumed.

ANTHGS26 - Communication & Culture - not offered in 2014/15

PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Luke Freeman

This course introduces students to the complexity of human communication. It provides an introduction to some apparently universal underpinnings of interpersonal communication such as inference, innovation, and influence. The ethnographic study will be drawn from readings on a series of communicative modes such as deception, irony, rhetoric and joking. The question that lies behind the course is, ‘What does the study of communication tell us about culture?’

ANTHGS27 - Alternative & Ritual Economies - not offered in 2014/15

PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr Rebecca Empson

How do different kinds of economic modalities relate to other forms of social life, including rituals and politics? This course covers the basics, from the formalist/substantivist debate and gift/commodity exchange, to explore recent works on ritual economies in post-socialist and post-colonial contexts, as well as the commodification of forms of care and intimacy. In doing so we will look at the kinds of things being exchanged and the social relations produced out of these exchanges, as well as the circulation of different forms of value.

Full list of the optional courses can be found by visiting the Postgraduate Course Options for Masters Students webpage.

Please note: not every course is available in every year

Page last modified on 29 jan 13 10:59