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Department of Anthropology



  • Introduction to University College London 3

  • The Graduate School

  • The Anthropology Department

  • General departmental information 5

  • Location

  • Libraries

  • Departmental facilities

  • Term times

  • Funding

  • Further information

  • MSc in Social and Cultural Anthropology 7

  • Course description

  • Course structure

  • Dissertations

  • MSc in Medical Anthropology 19

  • Course description

  • Course structure

  • Dissertations

  • MSc in Anthropology, Environment and Development 29

  • Course description

  • Course structure

  • Dissertations


  • MA in Material and Visual Culture 39

  • Course description

  • Course structure

  • Dissertations

  • MSc in Digital Anthropology 44

  • Course description

  • Course structure

  • Dissertations

  • MSc in Human Evolution and Behaviour56

  • Course description

  • Course structure

  • Dissertations

  • M.Res in Anthropology 71

  • Course Description

  • Course Structure

  • Dissertations

  • MA Culture Materials and Design 78

  • Course Description

  • Course Structure

  • Dissertations

  • Notes on preparing the Dissertation 85

  • Electronic Coursework Submission 89

  • Criteria for assessment of Masters Degrees 90

  • Penalties for Late Assessment and Excessive Word Length 92

  • Blank forms 93

  • Masters course options sheet

  • Dissertation registration form

  • Dissertation title page

  • Dissertation submission form


University College London (UCL) is one of the foremost teaching and research institutions in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1826 to provide higher education for all that could benefit from it, regardless of religion, race or class, and is both the oldest and the largest of the various colleges and institutes that make up the University of London. The College was the first to admit women to higher education on equal terms with men, and also pioneered the teaching of many subjects at university level.

UCL has over 19,000 students, of whom approximately one third are graduate students. There are 70 different departments within the College in the following eight faculties; Arts, Social and Historical Sciences, Laws, the Built Environment, Engineering, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Life Sciences and Biomedical Sciences.

UCL is proud of its record of academic distinction; it can count 19 Nobel Prize winners among former academic staff and students, and the current academic staff includes 22 Fellows of the Royal Society, 10 of the Royal Academy of Engineering and 16 of the British Academy. Recent external assessments have confirmed UCL as one of the top research universities in Britain.

The College seeks to provide for all aspects of student life. Facilities situated within the UCL precinct and available for the use of all students include libraries, a Health Centre, computer facilities, a Language Centre, the Bloomsbury Theatre and a Fitness Centre. The UCL Student’s Union provides a range of services such as bars, snack-bars, shops, a hairdresser and a travel office, as well as running over 130 clubs and societies catering for a range of sporting, academic, musical and cultural interests. UCL students may also use the facilities of the nearby University of London Union, which include a large swimming pool.

Situated on a compact site in the centre of London, UCL has extensive student accommodation available within easy reach. Nearby are libraries, museums, a university bookshop, public gardens and many cinemas, theatres, cafes, bars and inexpensive restaurants.

The UCL Graduate School

The interests of graduate students are primarily the concern of the UCL Graduate School. One area that it has pioneered is the promotion of generic skills through a Skills Development Programme for all research students. This is under continual review and assessment, but has included courses such as Introduction to Computing, Things I Wish I had Known at the Outset of my Research Degree, Library Information, Statistics, Science Communication, Presentation and Self-Marketing Skills, Thesis Writing, and Teamwork and Leadership Skills.

The Anthropology Department

The Anthropology Department at UCL integrates biological anthropology, social anthropology and material culture into a broad-based conception of the discipline. We are particularly committed to retaining this breadth by incorporating considerable interdisciplinary and interdepartmental linkages in our programme while at the same time retaining the strength of the three core areas of the subject.

At present the Department conducts research in 49 countries, houses the editors of three international journals and runs five seminar series (Biological Anthropology, Material Culture, Medical Anthropology, Social Anthropology, and West Africa). It sponsors a departmental monograph series and provides the base for the Centre for Medical Anthropology, the Centre for Human Ecology, and the Virtual Centre for the Social Environment and (with the Department of Biology) the Centre for Genetic Anthropology.

The Department is strongly committed to its graduate programme, which includes both taught degree programmes and research degrees. The last decade has seen a considerable planned expansion of our graduate programme in response both to the research interests of the staff and of the current generation of students. We have been highly successful in attracting well-funded new research projects that involve collaborative and interdisciplinary research programmes, but we also encourage innovation and independent research initiatives from students. Our graduate students are currently funded by UCL Graduate School awards and by Departmental Bursaries, as well as by the ESRC, the NERC, the AHRC, by the British Academy, ORS and various national and overseas government awards. The Department encourages pure and theoretical research as well as providing strong links to applied and development projects.



The Department is housed in a new building at 14 Taviton Street at the corner of Gordon Square. Here you will find the administrative office, staff offices, a number of teaching rooms, the Daryll Forde Seminar Room, research laboratories, undergraduate, postgraduate and staff common rooms and computer facilities for postgraduate and research students.


There are excellent library facilities within a short walking distance of the Department. The main UCL anthropological collection is housed on the second floor of the D.M.S. Watson Library, while the Senate House Library and the British Library hold specialist works relevant to all anthropological disciplines.

Other relevant library collections can be found in reasonable proximity to the Department at:

  • The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS),

  • The Institute of Archaeology,

  • The Royal Anthropological Institute in the Museum of Mankind,

  • The Social Science Reference Library (Chancery Lane),

  • The Natural History Museum,

  • The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine,

  • The Overseas Development Institute

  • The Zoological Society of London.

  • The Welcome Institute for the History of Medicine (Euston Road)

Departmental Facilities:

The Department has a graduate computer room with access to UCL Eduroam wireless network, as well as offering 8 managed PCs and a printer. The managed network gives access to external services such as library catalogues, electronic journals, and e-mail, in addition to specialist data processing facilities.

A wealth of IT training is available from Information Systems and the Graduate School, which offer a range of short and online courses on for example SPSS and advanced word processing.

The Department has a teaching and research laboratory, which holds the Napier Primate Skeletal Collection, as well as comprehensive collections of fossil hominid casts, and material culture collections from around the world. Through our research and teaching links, we also have access to the skeletal and fossil collections housed in the College's Zoological Museum and to those at the Natural History Museum (London). We also have access to the material culture collections at the Ethnography Department of the British Museum (London).

College term times 2011-2012:

First Term: Monday 26 September 2011 to Friday 16 December 2011

Second Term Monday 9 January 2012 – Friday 23 March 2011

Third Term: Monday 23 April 2012 – Friday 8 June 2012

College Reading Weeks are the weeks beginning Monday 7 November 2011, and Monday 13 February 2012.


The Department is able to offer bursaries to cover modest research expenses. Students from outside the EU may apply for an Open Scholarship from the UCL International Office. Overseas students applying for any of the Masters programmes can apply for the Shell Centenary Awards at UCL, which cover fees and living expenses.

Details of sources of funding can be found at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/scholarships/graduate.

For further information please contact:

James Emmanuel

Postgraduate Taught Programme Officer

Department of Anthropology

University College London

Gower Street

London WC1E 6BT

Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 1040

Fax: +44 (0)20 7679 8632

E-mail: james.emmanuel@ucl.ac.uk


MSc in Social and Cultural Anthropology

Course Handbook 2011-12

Course Tutor: Dr Martin Holbraad

Room 139, 14 Taviton Street

Tel: 020 7679 8639

E-mail: m.holbraad@ucl.ac.uk

Office Hours: Thursdays 11-1pm


This degree offers a flexible programme of study designed to provide a thorough grounding in anthropological theory and analysis, an understanding of ethnographic approaches to the study of contemporary society, and a strong foundation in ethnographic method and other research practices. The course guarantees:

  • Thorough grounding in anthropological theory

  • Personal academic tutorials throughout the year

  • A diverse range of specialist options

  • Thorough training in ethnographic method (i.e. fieldwork) and other social science research methods

  • Opportunities to focus on the relevance of anthropological research to professional practices (e.g. government, NGOs, health, environment, development, digital environments).

  • Opportunities for professional internships and ethnographic fieldwork

  • Opportunities to participate in diverse Research Seminars and Reading and Research Groups

In addition to the full-time one-year programme, the course is also available part-time over two years. In this case the core and methods courses are taken in Year 1 and the optional courses in Year 2.

The two Tracks:

The MSc in Social and Cultural Anthropology is taught in two Tracks, which differentiate from each other in Term 2 (see Course Structure below). Students must decide which Track they shall be pursuing by the end of Term 1 and advise the Course Tutor accordingly.

TRACK I: THEORY, ETHNOGRAPHY AND COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS (TECA): Provides comprehensive training in social and cultural anthropology, emphasising the discipline’s contribution to the comparative study of human beings in their diverse social and cultural formations. Alongside the classical anthropological themes of kinship, social organisation, exchange, ritual and cosmology, particular emphasis is placed on people’s experience of contemporary society and culture. This track is strongly recommended for students wishing to pursue anthropological research at doctoral level.

TRACK II: THEORY, ETHNOGRAPHY AND PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE (TEPP): Provides comprehensive training in social and cultural anthropology, emphasising the relevance of anthropological research and methods to professional practice in contemporary society. This track is recommended for students who wish to deploy a sound grasp of anthropological theory and method in relation to diverse fields of professional and policy-related practice, including governance, NGOs, health, environment and development.

While applicants elect to pursue one or other of these recommended tracks according to their academic interests and professional priorities, the MSc in Social and Cultural Anthropology provides scope for customising a programme of study combining elements of both.


The programme includes:

  • ANTHGS02, a compulsory 'core' seminar course, Critical Issues in Social Anthropology (which is taken over two academic terms). The two Tracks take their ‘core’ course together in Term 1. In Term 2 the two Tracks split and take separate ‘core’ course modules. Students on the TECA Track take the module in Critical Issues in Anthropological Comparison, while students on the TEPP Track take Critical Issues in the Ethnography of Professional Practices.

  • ANTHGS04, which provides training in anthropological research methods and techniques, including a small fieldwork-based project in preparation for the Dissertation (also taken over two terms).

  • Three specialist options chosen from the range of courses available in the Department. Courses both within the department and across the College are available to all students, although students on the TEPP track are strongly recommended to take at least one of those courses on offer which deal with aspects of professional practice, including Applied Studies, Medical Anthropology, Population and Development, Digital Anthropology etc. See Separate Options booklet for full listings.

  • ANTHGS99, a compulsory dissertation of 15,000-18,000 words.

  • In addition, MSc students are welcome to attend the Social Anthropology Research Seminar with invited speakers. This takes place over two terms every Wednesday at 11–1 pm at the Daryll Forde Seminar Room, 2nd floor of the Anthropology building.

So the course’s structure for the two Tracks is as follows:

Terms 1 & 2

Recommended ‘options’:

Applied Studies, Medical Anthropology, Anthropology of Games and Simulation, Population and Development, Anthropology of Mass Consumption, Ethnographic Film, Risk, Power and Uncertainty

(among others)*

*NB: these lists are only indicative and options offered each year change. Please see separate Options Booklet for what is available this year.


  • Students submit two 2,000-3,000 word papers for Critical Issues, one in Term 1 and one in Term 2, together counting for a maximum of 8.33% of the final degree mark.

  • They submit a 2,000 word paper for Anthropological Methods carrying a maximum of 8.33% of the final mark.

  • They take a 2-hour unseen examination paper on the material covered in Critical Issues in Anthropological Theory at the beginning of Term 3 (carrying a maximum of 8.33% of the final mark).

  • A 2,000-3,000 word paper for each of the 3 Optional Subjects (total 25% with each essay comprising a maximum 8.33% of the marks for the course)

  • A 15,000-18,000 word dissertation counting for a maximum of 50% of the final mark.

COURSE DESCRIPTION (see also p. 15 for a summary of your year’s structure and the relevant deadlines)


The MSc Core Course involves two overall components, which are compulsory and run throughout Terms 1 and 2 compulsory, namely a course on Critical Issues in Anthropological Theory and courses in Methods Training.

  1. Critical Issues in Anthropological Theory (ANTHGS02)

This is a compulsory core course that runs throughout Terms 1 and 2. In Term 1 all students take the course together in the form of a 1-hour lecture and two 1-hour group discussion seminars. In Term 2 the two Tracks split and take separate core course seminars. Students on the TECA Track take the seminar in Critical Issues in Anthropological Comparison, while students on the TEPP Track take Critical Issues in the Ethnography of Professional Practices. Both of these courses in Term 2 are taught as 2-hour seminars.

Assessmentby (i) A two-hour unseen exam at the beginning of Term 3. Students will be expected to answer TWO questions from this paper; (ii) TWO 2,000-3,000 word essays, one in Term 1 and the other in Term 2.

Self-Plagiarism: There must not be any substantial repetition of material between the assessed essays submitted for the taught element of the course and the two examination answers.

(b) Training in Methods (ANTHGS04)

The Methods component of the Core Course is taught over two terms and involves attendance to two separate courses:

(1) The department-wide course in Anthropological Methods, which runs throughout Terms 1 and 2 and is taught in lectures at 10-11am on Wednesday mornings, followed by smaller group seminars at 2-4pm on Wednesday afternoons. It is compulsory for students on the MSc in Social and Cultural Anthropology to attend 8 of this course’s weekly sessions (out of a total of 18 sessions). These are:

  • Introduction and Participant Observation (Term 1, Oct 5)

  • Investigating Kinship and Relatedness (Term 1, Oct 12)

  • Ritual (Term 1, Nov 2)

  • Interviews (Term 1, Nov 30)

  • Historical Sources (Term 1, Dec 7)

  • Ethnographic Writing (Term 2, Jan 11)

  • Taking Fieldnotes (Term 2, Jan 18)

  • Ethics in Research (Term 2, Feb 1)

In addition, students may attend any further sessions of the course on Anthropological Methods that might interest them (particularly if they relate to methods that may be used as part of their dissertation research). Dedicated tutorial sessions are available only for the compulsory sessions listed above.

(2) MSc students are also required to attend the course in Method in Ethnography, which is offered as a weekly 1-hour seminar in Term 1, on Wednesday mornings at 9-10am (i.e. directly before the lecture for Anthropological Methods – see above). In this course ethnographic methodology, which is foundational to social and cultural anthropology as a discipline, is investigated and discussed analytically in relation to relevant anthropological literature.

Assessment by: A 2,000-3,000 word essay based on any of the topics covered as part of the methods training. Students are free to incorporate in their essays original data using one or more of the methods presented in the course on Anthropological Methods, effectively conducting an original ‘mini project’ of their own. The deadline for the essay is 12 noon on the Monday after the Reading Week of Term 2 (i.e. Monday 20 February).


Students who are registered for the Masters degree in Social Anthropology are required to take 3 specialist single term options from the course options list. Please see separate Options Booklet for what is available this year. Options teaching is through specialist seminars. However, Masters students may also attend the open lectures for these courses where these are appropriate – please consult with the relevant course conveners in each case. Also, please note that, though all these courses are available as specialist options in most years, in some years, (a) a particular option may not be offered and (b) access to some options may be limited by numbers. You should contact the relevant lecturer as soon as you decide to take a course. Also note that courses in Biological Anthropology are available to Social Anthropology students in exceptional circumstances. Students are able to register for ONE option outside the department in UCL or in another college in the University of London, providing permission is obtained from the external department.

Option registration: at the beginning of the first Term you will be asked to indicate your specialist options for the year. If you are in doubt about what to choose, you can consult your Academic Tutor (see below) and/or the Course Tutor. You must register your choices by entering them onto Portico no later than Friday 7 October. If you change your module beyond this date you will need to complete and hand in the Masters Course Options Sheet (Page 93) to Mr James Emmanuel.

Assessment: Each specialist option will be assessed by a single term paper of between 2,000 and 3,000 words.

Deadlines: The deadline for options essays is usually 1pm on the Friday of the end of term in which the course was taught. However, this does vary in some cases and students need to check on their reading lists and with their lecturers.

Essay Submission: Two copies of the essay together with a cover sheet available at Reception must be placed in the Drop Box in the Reception area on or before the deadline, and will be date-stamped by Reception on the date that they are submitted, provided they are submitted by 1pm. One electronic copy must be submitted via Moodle (see Electronic Coursework Submission on Page 89). Late essays will be penalised (Please refer to page 92).

Essays will be first marked by the course tutor, second marked by another lecturer, and ratified by the External Examiner.


Purpose and Scope of the Dissertation

The MSc dissertation is a 15,000-18,000 word thesis based on independent research and thought. It must use anthropological materials (i.e. theories; methods; ethnographic data) in some way. This is usually achieved at an empirical level (i.e. by presenting source or case materials that are clearly relevant to the discipline of anthropology), and at a theoretical level (e.g. exploring a body of anthropological theory), showing how the two levels are related. A good dissertation ideally demonstrates awareness of relevant anthropological research and situates itself critically in relation to what has come before. Fieldwork to collect primary ethnographic data is encouraged wherever it is practicable and relevant. However, students should not feel discouraged from conducting library research into topics for which fieldwork will be technically impossible or intellectually inappropriate.

The above guidelines apply equally to students on both course Tracks, i.e. TECA and TEPP. In relation to the dissertation, the difference between the two tracks lies only in the emphasis of the research topic chosen. Students on the TECA track are encouraged to use ethnographic and comparative materials to develop sustained anthropological arguments the originality and rigour of which will be gauged in relation to the existing anthropological literature. Students on the TEPP track are encouraged to bring ethnographic and anthropological knowledge to bear on the understanding of themes relating to professional practices in contemporary society (e.g. questions pertaining to policy issues, social problems, professional practices in health, education, international development, local politics, financial practices and institutions, etc.). However in both cases students are expected to display a sophisticated understanding of anthropological methods and debates and, where appropriate, to bring it to bear on relevant empirical materials.

Academic Tutorials and deciding on a Dissertation topic

All students will be allocated an Academic Tutor at the outset of the course. Academic tutorials will be held with staff members in groups of approximately four students throughout Term 1 and in the first half of Term 2. Academic Tutorials are the prime forum in which each student develops their dissertation topic in consultation with his or her Academic Tutor.

Four 1 to 2-hour Tutorial Group meetings will be held in Term 1, and two further meetings will take place in Term 2, before the Reading Week. It is students’ responsibility to contact their Academic Tutor in the first week of Term 1 to arrange the meetings. Meetings will be devoted to discussing ideas for dissertation projects, and receiving guidance on how to develop the research for the thesis.

Students will be encouraged by the Academic Tutors to decide on their dissertation topics by the beginning of Term 2. Formal Project Proposals have to be submitted to the Course Tutor by the Reading Week of Term 2.

Guidelines for Project Proposals.

The project proposal should include the following:

  1. student’s name and e-mail address

  2. state which track of the MSc the student is on (TEPP or TECA)

  3. a provisional project title

  4. preferred supervisor’s name (if known)

  5. specification of the data set being analysed (e.g. library-based project based on published sources, fieldwork, museum data, oral history, archives, film)

  6. Two pages of text describing the research project.

Proposals must be submitted to Martin Holbraad, the course tutor, in hard copy or by email (m.holbraad@ucl.ac.uk), by Friday the 10th of February

In the event of any major change in the title or content of the dissertation later in the year a new Project Proposal must be submitted to the Course Tutor.

Dissertation Supervision

Based on the Project Proposals submitted by the students, the Course Tutor will produce a list of supervisor allocations by the first Monday after the Reading Week of Term 2, i.e. Monday the 20th of February. The list will be circulated to all students and staff by email.

Students can expect to have four meetings with their supervisor. An initial meeting should take place in the second half of Term 2 to firm up the research plan for the dissertation and arrange a timeframe for the research and further supervisory meetings. It is the responsibility of the student to arrange meetings with their supervisor.

By the end of the second term students should have produced a draft plan for research, an outline of the structure of the dissertation and begun to build up a relevant bibliography based on their readings on the topic, as agreed with the supervisor. Students must consult with their supervisors about content and presentation at an early stage and, if possible, throughout their work. Failure to take advice may result in loss of marks when the dissertation is examined.

Where relevant and appropriate, fieldwork may be conducted to collect primary ethnographic data for the dissertation project. Fieldwork must take place in a period of 4 to 8 weeks during May and/or June. Fieldwork should not be conducted any later than the end of June since this would interfere with the writing up of the dissertation, which should start no later than the beginning of July.

Students should submit a draftof the dissertation to their supervisor for feedback and comments, in the beginning of August (no later than the 15th of August). Supervisors will not be able to read drafts or other dissertation material after that date.

Supervisors may be away for periods of research during the summer. It is therefore the student’s responsibility to find out when supervisors will be available and to make mutually satisfactory arrangements for supervisions and the reading of drafts etc. Students should notify the course tutor if problems arise and, if necessary, a substitute supervisor will be asked to advise the student during extended periods of absence by the main supervisor.


The deadline for submission of the dissertation is Friday 14 September. One electronic copy must be submitted via Moodle (see Electronic Coursework Submission on Page 89).


Self-Plagiarism: There must not be any substantial repetition of material between the assessed essay submitted for the taught element of the course, the two examination answers and the dissertation. If in doubt consult the Course Tutor.


Candidates who have failed in just one of the written papers or coursework-assessed papers may usually continue with the dissertation unless advised otherwise by their tutor. If a dissertation is submitted and passed, the candidate will then only have to re-sit the written paper or coursework failed and not to re-enter all the papers for the M.Sc. Examination re-sits take place the following year. Candidates who fail the dissertation may re-enter and submit a dissertation in the following year. In the event of failure, please discuss your position with the course tutor and your supervisors.


A part-time MSc in Social Anthropology lasts two calendar years and can be taken on consultation with the Course Tutors. The student is expected to take the Core Course and Anthropological Methods in the first year and this includes the examination, an assessed essay, and the assessed methods essays. The specialist options and dissertation will be taken/written in the second year. Throughout Terms 1 and 2, the Core Course is held on Tuesdays and Anthropological Methods on Wednesdays with optional sessions with research students on alternate weeks. The timing of optional courses varies and students are advised to consult the timetable and discuss the scheduling of seminars with tutors at the beginning of the year.


Week of 26 September: Orientation Week & Registration

Week of 3 October (Term 1 begins): Core courses (Critical issues on Tue 4 October, Method in Ethnography and Anthropological Methods on Wed 5 October) and options courses begin. Compulsory sessions on the Anthropological Methods course are on Oct 5, Oct 12, Nov 2, Nov 30, Dec 7, Jan 11, Jan 18, Feb 1.

Tue 4 October: Allocations of Academic Tutors circulated to all students by Course Tutor. As soon as you know who your Academic Tutor is you must contact him/her by email to arrange your first meeting. You can expect to have four meetings with your Academic Tutor in Term 1 and two further ones in the first half of Term 2.

Fri 7 October: DEADLINE for registering for your 3 options courses on Portico. For essay deadlines on your option courses consult the relevant course handbooks.

Week of 7 November: Reading week

Fri 9 December: DEADLINE for deciding which MSc Track you will pursue (i.e. TECA or TEPP). Email the Course Tutor (at m.holbraad@ucl.ac.uk) stating your choice.

Week of 9 January (Term 2 begins): Core courses continue, with TECA and TEPP tracks taking Critical Issues seminars separately.

Fri 10 February: DEADLINE for submitting dissertation Project Proposal

Week of 13 February: Reading week

Mon 20 February: DEADLINE for submitting methods essay.

Mon 20 February: Allocations of dissertation Supervisors circulated to all students by Course Tutor. As soon as you know who your Supervisor is you must contact him/her by email to arrange your first meeting. You can expect to have four meetings with your Supervisor. You need to make mutually suitable arrangements for meetings, feedback on drafts etc. directly with him or her.

May and/or June: Dissertation fieldwork, if appropriate.

Wed 15 August: DEADLINE for submitting a draft of your dissertation to your Supervisor (make arrangements for this directly with him/her). No further drafts will be read by Supervisors after this date.

Fri 14 September: FINAL DEADLINE for submitting your dissertation

Recommended texts for incoming students (to read or inspect):

T.Hyland Eriksen, 2001. Small Places, Large Issues. An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology. London: Pluto Press 

J. Monaghan & R. Just, 2000. Social and Cultural Anthropology. A Very Short Introduction. Oxford Paperbacks

R. Astuti et al (eds), 2007. Questions of Anthropology. Oxford: Berg

A. Barnard & J. Spencer (eds.), 2004. Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology.  London, Routledge

P. Gay y Blasco & H. Wardle, 2007. How To Read Ethnography. London: Routledge

Some works by our staff:

Allen Abramson & D. Theodossopoulos (eds.) 2000. Land, Law and Environment: Mythical Land, Legal Boundaries. London: Pluto Press

Rebecca Empson, 2011. Harnessing Fortune: Personhood, place and Memory in Mongolia. Oxford: Oxford UP

Dena Freeman, 2002. Initiating Change in Highland Ethiopia: Causes and

Consequences of Cultural Transformation. Cambridge UP

Luke Freeman, 2007. ‘Why are some people powerful?’ In Questions of Anthropology, Astuti, Parry & Stafford (eds.) Oxford: Berg

Sahra Gibbon, 2007. Breast Cancer Genes and the Gendering of Knowledge London: Palgrave Macmillan

Jerome Lewis, 2008. ‘Ekila: Blood, Bodies and Egalitarian Societies.’ Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 14(2): 297-315

Martin Holbraad, 2012. Truth in Motion: The Recursive Anthropology of Cuban Divination. Chicago UP

Ruth Mandel, 2008. Cosmopolitan Anxieties: Turkish Challenges to Citizenship and Belonging in Germany. Duke UP.

Charles Stewart, 1991. Demons and the Devil: Moral Imagination in Modern Greek Culture. Princeton UP

Michael Stewart, 1997. The Time of the Gypsies. Boulder: West View Press


Allen Abramson (Senior Lecturer, Social Anthropology)

Room 143, 020 7679 8640, a.abramson@ucl.ac.uk

Field research in the interior of Eastern Fiji focusing on (i) gender and sexuality; (ii) property relations, land rights and land rites; and (iii) cultural dimensions of economic development. Field research in Britain, Europe and New Zealand on landscapes of risk, latterday epic and dangerous games.

Rebecca Empson (Lecturer, Social Anthropology)
Room 122, 020 7679 8625, r.empson@ucl.ac.uk

Research Interests:concepts ofpersonhood and subjectivity, the politics of memory, exchange across bodily and territorial boundaries, new religious economies, migration and diaspora communities, visual and material culture. Regional focus: Inner and East Asia, especially Mongolia.

Dena Freeman (Lecturer, Social Anthropology).

Room 238, d.freeman@ucl.ac.uk

International development, sustainability, corporate social responsibility, happiness and wellbeing, value chains, neoliberalism, theories of cultural change, social protests, Pentecostalism. Regional expertise in Ethiopia and Israel.

Luke Freeman (Lecturer, Social Anthropology)

Room 238, 020 7679 5579, luke.freeman@ucl.ac.uk

Recent research among Malagasy cattle drovers has led to an interest in how the co-evolutionary relationship between humans, animals and the environment is imagined, symbolised and lived. He is also interested in the study of political charisma and authority, particularly as it is expressed through rhetoric.

Sahra Gibbon (Lecturer, Social Anthropology)

Arrives in Term 2. s.gibbon@ucl.ac.uk

Sahra’s research interests are in genomic knowledges/technologies and public health in comparative cultural arenas (especially Latin America); gender, kinship, breast cancer and 'BRCA' genetics; biosocialities and communities of health activism; inter and cross-disciplinary research practices

Martin Holbraad (Lecturer, Social Anthropology, MSc Course Tutor)

Room 139, 020 7679 8639, m.holbraad@ucl.ac.uk

Martin main field research is in Cuba, where he focuses on Afro-Cuban religions and socialist politics. He is interested in the relationship between myth and action, the consecration of objects, the logic of cosmological thought in the field of religion as well as in politics, the anthropology of truth and the imagination, abstraction and divinity, and the relationship between anthropological and philosophical analysis.

Jerome Lewis (Lecturer, Social Anthropology)

Room 235, 020 7679 5567, jerome.lewis@ucl.ac.uk

Working with Central African hunter-gatherers and former hunter-gatherers, Jerome's research focuses on socialization, play and religion, egalitarian politics and gender relations, and techniques of communication.

Ruth Mandel (Reader, Social Anthropology)

Room 234, 020 7679 8646, r.mandel@ucl.ac.uk

Fieldwork on Turkish, Kurdish, and Greek migrant workers in Berlin, in conjunction with fieldwork on returned migrants in Turkey and Greece. More recent work in post-Soviet Central Asia, primarily Kazakhstan.

Charles Stewart (Reader, Social Anthropology)

Room 237, 020 7976 8650, c.stewart@ucl.ac.uk

Research on folklore and religion in Italy and Greece. Current interest in Greek dream narratives from an original perspective combining historical testimonies from antiquity and the middle ages with accounts of contemporary informants.

Michael Stewart (Lecturer, Social Anthropology)

On leave this year. Room 222, 020 7976 8637, m.stewart@ucl.ac.uk

Field research among Hungarian Roma (Gypsies) and Romanian shepherds and farmers. Particularly interested in political and economic an

MSc in Medical Anthropology

Senior Tutors:

Dr Joe Calabrese

Room 242, Taviton Street

Tel: TBC

E-mail: j.calabrese@ucl.ac.uk

Professor Roland Littlewood

Room TBC

Tel: TBC

E-mail: r.littlewood@ucl.ac.uk


The aim of the MSc in Medical Anthropology is to provide, through a coherent course of study over twelve months, an advanced training in the concepts, tools and techniques required for research either (i) as medical anthropologists operating academically within the discipline of anthropology or in an ‘applied’ context working for a field agency; (ii) as anthropologists taking up social-science posts in the health field; or (iii) as health- professionals returning to their jobs in the health services after completion of the MSc For this last group (who mainly come from transcultural psychiatry and public health), a further aim is to provide the research techniques and analytical insights that will enable them to work more effectively in cultural settings other than their own.

A primary focus of the MSc is on research in other cultures and work with culturally-diverse groups both in Britain and abroad. The skills taught in the course therefore relate to field techniques of analysis, enquiry and evidence with an emphasis on qualitative methods and the relationship between close observation and large-scale data sets, and basic issues of caring and cultural competency. The aim of the programme is to understand how wellbeing is constructed by individuals and groups both within and across cultures, through developing in students a sensitivity to the ways that distress and illness are expressed—mentally, somatically, and socially.

Among other transferable skills, the student on completion of the course is expected to have the framework on which to construct an analysis of medicine (broadly interpreted) as practised in any one society or community, whether in Britain or in a developing country. As a corollary the student should be able to use this analysis to identify key problems and suggest possible solutions, while aware of how lay responses and interpretations develop in matters of health and misfortune.

The MSc usually has a mix of health-professionals and social scientists. The inclusion of health-professionals on the MSc course adds considerably to the resources of experience within the group as a whole, bringing practical arguments and critical scepticism to debates and seminars. Conversely, the social scientists bring a familiarity with the assumptions and ideas of social theory, and learn to argue their case with greater clarity. One of the objectives, therefore, of the MSc is to provide a mix of experience with the student group and to meet the specific needs of individual students: the resulting diversity in the training process adds stimulus and makes the course more effective, not less, in our experience.

An important outcome, then, is the creation of a pool of professionals trained to a high standard in the sub-discipline of medical anthropology, a discipline still relatively rare (at least in Britain and the rest of Europe) and one that is continuing to develop new methods of work and research. The MSc aims both to contribute to that development and to train students to drive the discipline forward themselves.


The course is examined in three ways, which together give students training in analysis and written reports, and ensures their competence in three distinct techniques of presentation:

(1) By formal written examination on the whole field of medical anthropology; in revising for this unseen exam paper, individually or in groups and in formal revision sessions, students get an overall grasp of the subject and its methods, and demonstrate their command of the field. By essay - two essays are written on the core elements over two terms. The higher mark will be used in the assessment. (Examination 16.6%; essay 8.3% = total 25%)

(2) By three essays, one for each of three optional modules (25%).

(3) By a dissertation (50%) within the field of medical anthropology but developing out of a student's special interests or needs, either arising out of work on the course or applying newly learnt techniques to a pre-existing professional interest.

Finally certain seminars, in which students present work orally to a group, are assessed informally, with attendance and quality of performance monitored.

A crucial discipline of the course is the re-focusing of components towards issues arising within medical anthropology and the problems of health and society. The methods of assessment and the range of subsidiary fields of study require this focus, to ensure the coherence of the course as a whole.

Recommended reading for incoming students

or a list of contemporary texts in medical anthropology which can be found in any good bookstore, on Amazon, or cheaply at abebook.co.uk.

No prior knowledge of the discipline of medical anthropology is needed to read these books, yet they nicely contextualize the topics we will cover in greater detail throughout the course:

Argenti-Pillen, A. 2003 Masking Terror. How Women Contain Violence in Southern Sri Lanka. Pennsylvania University Press.

Bourgois, P. 2002 In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio. Cambridge University Press.

Das, V; Kleinman, A; Lock, M, Ramphele, M. 2001 Remaking a World: Violence, Social Suffering and Recovery. California University Press

Davis, C. 2000 Death in Abeyance: Illness and Therapy among the Tabwa of Zaire. Edinburgh University Press.

Farmer, P. 2003 Pathologies of power: Health, human rights, and the new war on the poor. University of California Press.

Gibbon, S. 2006 Breast Cancer Genes and the Gendering of Knowledge: Science and Citizenship in the Cultural Context of the 'new' Genetics. Palgrave MacMillan.

Good, B, M. Fischer, S. Willen, & M-J. DelVecchio Good (Paperback - 26 April 2010) Anthropology of Medicine: A Reader (Blackwell Anthologies in Social and Cultural Anthropology). WileyBlackwell.

Kilshaw, S. 2008 Impotent Warriors: Perspectives of Gulf War Syndrome. Berghahn Books.

Lambek, M. & P. Antze (eds) 2004 Illness and Irony. On the Ambiguity of Suffering in Culture. Berghahn Books.

Littlewood, R. 2002 Pathologies of the West: The Anthropology of Mental Illness in Europe and America. Cornell University Press.

Lock, M., A. Young, and A. Cambrosio 2000 Living and Working with the New Medical Technologies: Intersections of Inquiry . Cambridge University Press.

Napier, D. 2003 The Age of Immunology: Conceiving a Future in an Alienating World.

Chicago University Press.

Nichter, M & M. Lock 2002 (eds.), New Horizons in Medical Anthropology: Essays in Honour of Charles Leslie. Routledge.

Petryna A; A. Lakoff & A. Kleinman 2006 Global Pharmaceuticals: Ethics, Markets, Practices. Duke University Press.

Trinch, S. 2003 Latinas’ Narratives of Domestic Abuse. Discrepant Versions of Violence,

John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Watters, E. 2004 Urban Tribes. Are Friends the New Family? Bloomsbury.

West, H. G. 2007 Ethnographic Sorcery. University of Chicago Press.

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