Social and Cultural Anthropology MSc

London, Bloomsbury

This MSc provides a thorough grounding in anthropological theory and analysis, an understanding of ethnographic approaches to the study of social worlds, and a strong foundation in research practices. This programme is unique in training and supporting students to carry out their own qualitative research projects to help them develop practical skills relevant to a wide range of careers.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2024
Applications accepted
Applicants who require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 28 Jun 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Applicants who do not require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 30 Aug 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

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.

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 programme aims to develop knowledge and understanding of major theoretical, ethnographic and methodological debates in social anthropology. Students develop an understanding of human cultural worlds through in-depth historical study, gain knowledge of specific societies and specialist approaches, and enhance their independent research skills through practical training in research methods.

Who this course is for

The programme is suitable for graduates in anthropology and other social sciences, and suitably qualified applicants from other disciplines, who wish to develop the ability to analyse a broad range of contemporary issues in order to pursue a career in research, teaching, development, public service, journalism and many other fields.

What this course will give you

UCL Anthropology was the first in the UK to integrate biological and social anthropology with material culture into a broad-based conception of the discipline. It is one of the largest anthropology departments in the UK in terms of both staff and research student numbers, offering an exceptional breadth of expertise.

UCL Anthropology ranks fourth in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023, making it the top ranked institution in London, and third in the UK and Europe for the subject.

Students are encouraged to take full advantage of the wider anthropological community in London and the department's strong links with European universities and international institutions.

The foundation of your career

Recent graduates of this degree have pursued careers in fields including government, business, development, social research and consultancy, and the media, as well as in academia as professional anthropologists.


In addition to the analytical, interpretative skills honed by its core academic training, the degree is unique in focusing on the development of practical competencies in ethnographic and qualitative research. These skills are relevant to a wide range of professions including international development, education, local and national government, the creative industries and market research. Our close co-operation with UCL’s bespoke careers services provides opportunities for internships and placements during the programme or following its completion.


Students have the possibility of connecting with visiting scholars and experts across a wide range of fields, including the biological sciences, international development, digital humanities, medicine, psychology and social anthropology, through the departments many section research seminars and reading and research groups. Students are offered the opportunity to work with local third sector organizations in their dissertation projects through the Community Research Initiative (CRIS) which connects students with local community groups.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, small group presentations and discussion, tutorials, laboratory and practical work, independent directed reading, interactive teamwork, and video, film and web based courses. It includes a research seminar series with invited speakers.

Assessment is through unseen examination, essays, and the research dissertation.

The two compulsory modules typically involve around 72 contact hours (a mix of 1h lectures, 2h seminars and 3h workshop classes). 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 with your personal tutor (individual and small group tutorials) accounts for 5 further hours and estimated time in dissertation supervision another 4 hours (1h meetings).


The programme runs over one full academic year for full time students and over two full years for part-time students. The programme comprises three basic elements:

  • Two compulsory modules: the seminar series in Critical Issues in Social Anthropology and research training in Methods in Ethnography.
  • Three optional modules: you are free to choose optional modules from across the department but students must take at least one, if not more, optional modules from within the Social Anthropology section. Please note: some Biological Anthropology and Public Anthropology options are restricted.
  • The 15,000 word dissertation: for this module you will individually conduct original research on an anthropological topic of your own choice.

Students take all their compulsory modules and typically one or two optional modules in the first year. In the second year they take their remaining optional module(s) and complete a 15,000 word dissertation which requires them to conduct original research on an anthropological topic of their own choice.

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 Social and Cultural Anthropology.


Students can choose to conduct fieldwork-based projects for their final dissertation.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £19,300 £9,650
Tuition fees (2024/25) £31,100 £15,550

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:

Additional costs

Students might incur some additional costs associated with their fieldwork, dependent on the project they choose.

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.

Aziz Foundation Scholarships in Social and Historical Sciences

Value: Full tuition fees (equivalent to 1yr full-time) (1yr)
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

UCL East London Scholarship

Deadline: 20 June 2024
Value: Tuition fees plus £15,700 stipend ()
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

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:

  • why you want to study Social and Cultural Anthropology at graduate level
  • why you want to study Social and Cultural 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

We are looking for students who have ‘done their homework’. You should show that you have a sound understanding of what anthropology is about, you should know what this programme in particular entails, and you should make the case for why this programme fits your research interests and personal career trajectory. In short, together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match with the programme we 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: 2024-2025

Got questions? Get in touch

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