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Posted Dec. 16, 2013

Spotlight On: Postgrad Study in Anthropology

Humanity's evolution and our interaction with the material world is a vast and diverse area of study. While an undergraduate degree in anthropology provides the broader foundation, postgraduate study will focus on particular areas of interest. Once a student has decided where their main interest lies they will then have to determine which university offers the strongest research programme in that field. Different universities target different evolutionary elements and provide students with the research methods to thoroughly explore those chosen areas of anthropology. Some initial online exploration will uncover a wealth of advice covering all aspects of postgraduate study in anthropology, including information on the most suitable institutions at which to apply to do a postgraduate degree. There is also the choice to be made of whether to follow a taught, or a research based postgraduate degree.

Research Programs Universities that offer one-year, research based Masters programmes will structure them so that students have a primary as well as a research supervisor. Regular meetings with these supervisors will be monitored by the university with maximum student benefit in mind and numerous other support systems will also be in place.

Taught Programs Taught Masters programmes are usually one-year courses led by academic staff with specialist knowledge in the fields of anthropology on offer. Students will also be actively involved in research groups and dissertations will be undertaken with ample support from a group member.

PhD Programs PhD anthropology students will follow a (roughly!) three-year course that will then be examined by thesis.

Fields of Study The main areas of study can be divided into four categories from which a myriad of sub categories flow.
  • Social anthropology compares the social structures by which various peoples organise their lives in an effort to establish what binds humanity as a species, as well as what creates the enormous diversity that exists between us. It will include elements such as the political, economic, health and religious structures. Many UK universities offer strong research departments that explore all of the complexities of this key area of anthropological studies. A good indicator of how strong a research department is would be whether it has received any outside recognition for research done in any of the areas of anthropology on offer.
  • This gripping area of anthropology covers the evolution and ecology of humanity and of the other primates that inhabit our planet. Research will tend to focus on specific areas of the world to establish, among other things, how natural resources are managed.
  • The many and varied perceptions of how the human body functions and the role of healers within specific communities makes for a fascinating area of study. Research into healing rituals and how the psychological well-being of communities is approached, particularly in the absence of western medicine, is sure to provide ample motivation for excellent dissertations. A few UK universities now also offer masters programmes in forensic anthropology, which will appeal to the detective in every student.
  • The UK is a world leader in this branch of anthropology. It covers the production and consumption of goods, as well as the value and meaning attributed to objects by different communities. Studies will include the road that has led to current technologies and how these are experienced and valued by different ethnic groups around the world.

Postgraduate study in anthropology certainly has diversity enough to offer enormous inspiration to every student pursuing a Masters or PhD in the subject. UK higher learning institutions are equipped to provide the necessary facilities and support to make these goals achievable for every motivated student.

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