Digital Anthropology MSc

London, Bloomsbury

The MSc in Digital Anthropology, the first and most well-established of its kind worldwide, equips students with the skills to research and analyse the social and cultural dimensions of digital technologies and practices: including social media, data and algorithms, digital infrastructures, 3D printing and museum collections, and online politics. Combining the cross-cultural and comparative study of digital phenomena with anthropological theories and research methods, the MSc prepares students to practice as digital anthropologists across a broad range of policy, industry, government and academic environments.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
£18,000
£9,000
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
£29,000
£14,500
Duration
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2023
Applications accepted
All applicants: 17 Oct 2022 – 31 Mar 2023

Applications open

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 4

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.

Equivalent qualifications

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. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

The Digital Anthropology MSc is the first of its kind: placing digital technologies, platforms and practices in social and cultural, and comparative context. Based in one of the largest and most comprehensive anthropology departments in the UK, students study core anthropological theories (including kinship, materiality/immateriality and embodiment) with emphasis on their relevance for understanding digital culture. A strong emphasis on research and ethnographic methods allows students to gain skills in digital ethnography, social media analytics, social data analysis, mapping, digital design, user research methodologies and applied digital anthropology. Overall, students develop an understanding of digital cultures through the ethnographic study of their social and regional impact in a global and comparative context, as well as a critical understanding of their imbrication with other cultural and social systems and are able to develop this knowledge base in the context of a wide range of different career pathways and applications.

Who this course is for

The programme is suitable for those with a prior degree in anthropology but also for those with degrees in neighbouring disciplines who wish to be trained in anthropological and related approaches to digital culture. We are also interested in people returning to study from a wide range of different sectors with experience in digital media and culture.

What this course will give you

The Digital Anthropology MSc at UCL was established in 2009, the first degree course in Digital Anthropology, and remains the only masters level programme in Digital Anthropology in the world. Led by a renowned team of researchers, it is unique in combining a world-class training in anthropology with the empirical study of the development and use of digital technologies in a diverse range of settings around the world.

UCL Anthropology ranks fourth in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022, making it the top ranked institution in London, and third in the UK and Europe for the subject.

The programme combines ethnographic methods, critical thinking and practical explorations of the digital world and encourages in-depth research to develop the next generation of understanding about the impact, consequences, aesthetics and politics of digital technologies and infrastructures.

The foundation of your career

The Digital Anthropology MSc prepares students for careers in government, industry, the not-for-profit sector and academia. We have strong links with non-academic partner organisations including the UK Government Digital Service, the Open Data Institute, NESTA, Facebook/Deepmind, The Ada Lovelace Institute, Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, Inventi V, Stripe Partners, Human City and BMB Agency. Our former students have gone on to work for organisations such as NESTA, Open Knowledge Foundation, DELL, Big Fish Games, UK Home Office and New York City Council; have set up their own successful digital consultancies; and have gone on to study PhDs at universities such as UCL, University of Oxford, and the University of California (Careers data from Destination of Leavers in Higher Education Survey).

Employability

Digital Anthropology provides an important skillset for employers in the technology industries and government and is frequently listed as a desirable qualification in user research and digital design job specifications. The ability to understand technology use in context, delve behind data, understand the biases of technical systems, grapple with ethical questions raised by new technologies, and introduce a comparative understanding of how digital objects are used by people around the world, are uniquely provided by training in digital anthropology. Moreover the MSc programme also provides a strong theoretical grounding for those interested in continuing to a PhD.

Teaching and learning

Assessment is through essays, methodology practicals, a final take-home examination and the substantial research dissertation.

The compulsory module typically involves around 36 contact hours (2h seminars). The three optional modules (15 credit) usually amount to 54 contact hours (assuming 2 hour weekly seminar) but will vary depending on the choice of modules. Estimated time in dissertation supervision is around 2h (30 minute meetings).

Modules

The programme runs over one full academic year for full time students and over two full years for part-time students. The taught components are undertaken in the first two terms, whilst term three is dedicated to exams and dissertation preparation. Research and writing for the dissertation take place over the summer.

The programme comprises three key elements:

  • Compulsory Module (including Anthropological Research Methods in Term 1)
  • Three Optional Modules - at least two modules from the Digital Anthropology MSc optional modules and up to one from modules available within the department or appropriate options in other departments (with approval from the programme tutor and host department).
  • Dissertation

In addition to these assessed components, your participation in the programme also includes the following activities:

  • Material, Visual & Digital Culture Research Seminars (weekly in Term 1 and 2)
  • Postgraduate Presentation Day

In the part-time mode, students take the compulsory module (a weekly seminar in term 1 and 2, a fortnightly practical seminar over term 1 and term 2)  and the research methods seminar in the first year and in the second year take the three optional modules. Students have the choice to stretch their dissertation out over two summers or do it in full-time mode in the second year.

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability are subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MSc in Digital Anthropology.

Fieldwork

Students have the option to conduct ethnographic fieldwork as part of their dissertation research. 

Accessibility

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.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2023/24) £18,000 £9,000
Tuition fees (2023/24) £29,000 £14,500

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Additional costs

If a student decides to undertake field research (optional), the cost is normally covered by the student.

In recent years our students have received fieldwork funding from the department’s Turing Scheme and the Anna Sturm Law Travel Prize.
 

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

Funding your studies

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

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.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at Application fees.

When we assess your application we would like to learn from your personal statement:

  • why you want to study Digital Anthropology at graduate level
  • why you want to study Digital Anthropology 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.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2023-2024

Got questions? Get in touch

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