UCL Anthropology


Anthropology MPhil/PhD

An Anthropology MPhil/PhD means being an unrivalled expert on human life, culture, society, ecology, biology, or some combination of those. Sustained fieldwork is normally required and graduates of this programme specialise in a wide range of research methods. Doctoral-level anthropologists are sought for work in government, policy, social research, design and high-tech industries, development, heritage, marketing and journalism, as well as academia.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2021

Modes and duration

Full time: 3 years
Part time: 5 years

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 9 November 2020
Close: 23 July 2021

Tuition fees (2021/22)

£5,525 (FT)
£2,765 (PT)
£22,230 (FT)
£11,190 (PT)

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 Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

Ideal candidates will have a Master's degree with Distinction in Anthropology or a relevant discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of equivalent standard. Minimum entry requirements are a Master's degree with Merit or a Bachelor's Honours degree with Distinction in Anthropology or a relevant discipline. Applicants must contact their proposed supervisors prior to applying to secure support for their application.

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

Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

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:


Research may be pursued in or across four main areas, each of which is the focus of separate sections in the department: Biological Anthropology; Material, Visual and Digital Culture; Medical Anthropology; Social and Cultural Anthropology. We are a relatively large department, with a wide range of specialisations within those fields.

Research areas

The department provides supervision in the following areas:

  • Anthropological Issues in Education and Learning (AIEL)
  • Art and Anthropology
  • Biosocialities, Health and Citizenship
  • Built Environment, Landscape and Public Spaces
  • Cognition and the Anthropology of the Mind
  • Cosmology, Religion, Ontology and Culture (CROC)
  • Culture and Human Wellbeing
  • Digital Anthropology
  • Dirt, Excrement, and Decay (DEAD)
  • Documentary Film and Film Ethnography
  • Ethics and the Person
  • Fashion and Clothing
  • Finance, Money, and Social Systems
  • Human Ecology Research Group (HERG)
  • Human Evolutionary Ecology Group (HEEG) London Latin America Seminar
  • Materials and Making
  • Medical Materialities
  • Object-based Research
  • Palaeoanthropology and Comparative Anatomy (PACA)
  • Pastoralism
  • Performance, Theatre and Ethnography of the Imagination
  • Politics, Criminality and the State
  • Primate Sexualities: Beyond the Binary
  • Reproduction and Sexuality
  • Risk, Power and Uncertainty
  • Social Media
  • Space, Exploration and Planetary Futures
  • Sustainability, Environment and the Culture of Materials (SEM)
  • Technology and Infrastructure
  • Visual Culture

Regional strengths include the UK, Caribbean, Central and Latin America, the Central Congo Delta, East Africa, Europe (East and West), Mongolia, Oceania, South Asia, and the US. Staff also regularly supervise beyond these areas and in conjunction with supervisors in other departments.

About this degree


MPhil/PhD students normally undertake original fieldwork as a part of their research. Methodologies include a range of participatory and survey methods, work with archives and collections, and laboratory work (for some Biological Anthropology topics). 


There is no standard placement programme. Some anthropologists do work in institutions for up to a year as a part of their fieldwork.

Additional costs

For unfunded researchers, fieldwork is normally undertaken at their own expense.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.


UK/EU applicants can apply for research council funding for three years (fees only for EU applicants). To apply for funding through the department, you must first apply for the MPhil/PhD.

Common sources of funding, which our researchers have benefitted from, include:

  • GRS/ ORS.
  • ESRC/ UBEL Doctoral Partnership (DTP): the UK’s funding body for normal social science work.
  • AHRC/ LAHP DTP: Funding for Arts and Humanities, projects submitted here often have an artistic, design or material culture angle.
  • London NERC DTP: Funding for Environmental Science and related areas, for more scientific and environmental projects.
  • BBSRC: Biological Sciences funding, worth considering for Biological Anthropology work.
  • Soc-B CDT: a UCL Centre of Doctoral Training, relevant for some BioSocial projects.
  • Wellcome Trust: funds medical-related research, worth considering for medical anthropology and related areas.

  • Leverhulme Trust: charitable scheme funding annual Doctoral Research Scholarships.
  • Wolfson Awards: UCL scholarship scheme for work relating to History, Literature or Languages.
  • Mary Douglas Scholarships: scholarship scheme specific to our department, which may not run each year, depending on the benefactor.
  • Collaborative Awards: if your research envisages a collaboration between the university and another institution, check for collaborative awards (a collaborative student may have a supervisor at UCL, and another in a company/Government body). Both ESRC and AHRC have collaborative schemes.
  • The ESRC also has specific awards for Quantitative Projects (AQM awards, Biological Anthropology or Digital projects using quantitative data); and Interdisciplinary Awards.

Research students in the department have also received funding from CONCIETAS, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, as well as studentships provided by numerous governments.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


A majority of our MPhil/PhD graduates have taken up lectureships in universities in the UK and abroad, or continue their research interests through fellowships and other research posts.

 Anthropology as a profession has become more sought-after in recent years. UCL graduates work in a range of areas:

  • Academia
  • Social and market research
  • Government and policy (including senior levels of Government in the UK)
  • Digital and high-tech design
  • Development
  • Heritage, museums and environmental reserves
  • Journalism
  • Marketing


The MPhil/PhD cultivates advanced skills in qualitative and quantitative methods and expert knowledge of the anthropological issues pertinent to their field of study. Research students collect original data through methodologies including participant observation, formal and informal interviews, ethnographic recordings, surveys, object and visual analyses, archival research, autoethnography, oral and genealogical histories, excavation, and participatory action research. Anthropology doctorates are valued by employers for not only providing empirical data for known situations, but critical thinking skills enabling them to reflect on and re-think social, economic, medical, environmental, biological and political situations as they change.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The advantage of undertaking advanced research in UCL Anthropology is the breadth of expertise available within the sections of the department. Most anthropology departments specialise in the sub-disciplines of social or biological anthropology. However, students at UCL can tackle research in interdisciplinary areas and expect to receive expert supervision in social and cultural, biological and medical anthropology, as well as material, visual and digital culture. Additionally, each of these sections in the department offers a diverse range of theoretical, methodological, topical and geographic interests and specialisms.

One factor that supplements this breadth and interdisciplinarity is the existence of a flourishing Research and Reading Group (RRG) culture in which staff and students informally come together outside of area sections to share knowledge and discuss individual research on subjects of shared interest. This leads to formal workshops, conferences, and publications that engage broader audiences and offer platforms for students to present their work.

Studying at UCL Anthropology also offers opportunities to post, edit and publish original work in the numerous academic journals and blogs associated with or managed by the department, as well as in Anthropolitan, the scholarly magazine edited by students. Other opportunities for research students include generous support for organising conferences and events, teaching assistantships and assistant curatorships, and research within the department's special collections and labs.

Department: Anthropology

What our students and staff say

Staff review

"The Department of Anthropology at UCL is world-class and a friendly place as well. (The two don't always go together!) Secondly, I have always liked the academic and social atmosphere of UCL; modern, liberal, respectful of difference but devoted to both scholarship and social impact."

Dr Allen Abramson

MSc in Social and Cultural Anthropology MPhil/PhD in Anthropology
Senior Lecturer in 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.

This programme requires two references. Further information regarding references can be found in our How to apply section.

Application deadlines

All applicants
23 July 2021

Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit to see if you need to consider these in your application preparation. You must identify and contact potential supervisors before making your application. For more information see our How to apply page.

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.

Page last modified on 28 August 2021