DPhil in Anthropology
- Entry requirements
- Funding and costs
- How to apply
About the course
The DPhil in Anthropology is the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography’s advanced research degree, and is awarded to candidates who have completed a substantial original piece of research in the field.
Anthropology - the study of humans - is a very diverse field and a wide range of research foci are reflected within the activities and structure of the school. DPhil students in the school research topics across this wide range of research foci, including migration and migrant populations, social and cultural influences on medical practice and health, material culture and its representation in museums, human cooperation and pro-social behaviour, the evolution of human behaviour, human adaptations and interactions with the environment and technology, and the huge range of topics that fall under the social anthropological concerns of learning about different populations’ versions of the world and relating them to each other.
The programme provides training and practice in developing research skills, especially through fieldwork with human subjects, though this is not compulsory. It also offers practice in analysing, interpreting and writing up research-related materials, and in presenting such materials in seminar-type formats. Upon successful completion of the course, students will have developed the skills and expertise that qualify them to work in academic research/teaching positions or beyond in a broad range of professions requiring social science skills and sensitivities.
Most applicants are admitted as Probationer Research Students (PRS) and are expected to complete the degree in three to four years (six to eight years part-time). In the first year students attend weekly PRS seminars which provide training in research skills and writing as well as research presentation and critique; during this period you will develop and begin work on your thesis topic. First year students also take at least two ‘methods modules’ courses chosen to complement their research interests from the wide range offered in the school. They will meet at least monthly with their supervisor, and can avail themselves of the many research training opportunities on offer in the Social Sciences Division and elsewhere in the university (eg the Language Centre, IT Learning Centre) (these requirements are spread over the first two years in the case of part-time students). You will also have the opportunity to attend lectures, seminars and classes in your general topic area.
Students spend their second year (part-time: third and fourth years) gathering data as part of their original research. While fieldwork is not a formal requirement most students undertake fieldwork of some form. Its nature varies considerably depending upon the research area and topic focus, from traditional immersion in another population, to experimental work, to work with artefacts in museums or archives, for example. Its location will be dictated by the research focus and could be in Oxford or, in principle, anywhere in the world (subject to health and safety considerations). Students maintain regular (at least monthly) contact with their supervisor while conducting their research. In their third year (part-time: fifth and sixth years) students write up their research thesis, and are expected to attend weekly ‘work-in-progress’ seminars in which they present their developing work to their peers and staff for feedback and provide feedback to their peers' work; they continue to maintain at least monthly contact with their supervisors for guidance. Throughout the course DPhil students are strongly encouraged to attend the many research seminars, presentations and lectures on offer within the department and elsewhere in the University.
Generally, you will only be admitted to the DPhil programme if you have successfully completed at least one taught degree in anthropology at the required level, whether in Oxford or elsewhere. Exceptions may be made in the fields of cognitive and evolutionary anthropology, or for applicants with a distinction in a taught-course degree that includes some anthropology, but in a closely related discipline other than in anthropology. In the latter case, you will be expected to undertake some coursework in anthropology in the first year of the DPhil course. If you wish to undertake the DPhil with a focus on medical anthropology, you will usually be expected to have previously completed a taught master's degree in medical anthropology.
If you are admitted as a Probationer Research Student (as will be the case if you don’t currently hold an Oxford MPhil, or do but aren’t continuing research in the area of your MPhil thesis), you will undertake research preparation for your fieldwork. Once you have attained the status of a full DPhil student in anthropology (usually by the end of the first year for full-time students or the end of the second year for part- time students), you will be eligible to embark on fieldwork or other research.
If you are directly admitted as a full DPhil student (ie you hold an Oxford MPhil and are continuing research in the area of your MPhil thesis), in principle you are ready to embark on the programme of research as approved by your DPhil supervisor. However, in some cases, your supervisor may determine that you should complete a further programme of methodological training or other preparatory work necessary for your proposed programme of research.
Your research will typically last from 12 to 18 months (24 to 36 months for part-time students) and is then followed by a period of similar length to write up the thesis on which examination for the doctorate is based.
The school’s research degrees are not available by distance learning. To ensure a comprehensive integration into the school and University's research culture and with their full-time peer groups, part-time students will be required to attend supervision, study, research seminars and skills training, together with other obligations (for example, supervision meetings). Although there will be no requirement to reside in Oxford, part-time research students must attend the University on a regular basis. you may be expected to be in Oxford on a number of days each week during term time in the first two years of the programme. There will be limited flexibility in the dates of attendance, which will be determined by class schedule and term dates. It is therefore likely that part-time students are either already resident in Oxford or will live within commuting distance of the city. Although the school appreciates that part-time research students will have non-standard attendance and work patterns, they are required to attend for a minimum of 30 days during term time in each academic year. During the later years of the programme, there will be flexibility in the dates of attendance, which will be determined by mutual agreement with your supervisor.
For this course, the allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor or co-supervisor may be found outside the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography.
Students meet with their supervisor(s) regularly (typically for one hour, two to three times per term) – ie at least once per month. In the case of part-time students this equates to at least once every two months, being at least twice between the start of one term and the beginning of the next. During fieldwork this contact may be written or in the form of an online meeting rather than in person, and is expected to occur twice as often where a student is conducting work in a Foreign and Commonwealth Office-flagged location.
You will be admitted to the course as a Probationer Research Student (PRS), unless you already hold an Oxford MPhil degree in anthropology and are continuing research in the area of your MPhil thesis. Oxford MPhil students may apply for admissions directly to DPhil status, but only where there is clear continuity between the topic of their MPhil thesis and that of their proposed DPhil.
If you are admitted with PRS status, within a maximum of four terms as a full-time PRS student or eight terms as a part-time PRS student, you will be expected to apply for, and achieve, transfer of status from Probationer Research Student to DPhil status. This application is normally made in the third term for full-time students and in the sixth term for part-time students.
Students who have achieved DPhil status must apply for and gain confirmation of DPhil status, to show that your work continues to be on track. Confirmation of DPhil status takes place once students are well advanced with their writing up. Both Transfer of Status and Confirmation of Status assessments involve submission of a piece of written work and an interview with two assessors (other than your supervisor) and therefore provide important experience for the final oral examination. Confirmation of Status needs to be achieved within nine terms for full-time students and eighteen terms for part-time students who were admitted with PRS status, or within six terms for full-time students and twelve terms for part-time students who were admitted directly with full DPhil status.
The course is ultimately examined by the submission of a thesis and oral examination, after three to four years of full-time study, or six to eight years of part-time study.
Many graduates from the course enter teaching and research. Others go on to work in government, policy-making, public bodies, larger private companies, development agencies, NGOs and other organisations.
Changes to this course and your supervision
The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic, epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.
Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.
Entry requirements for entry in 2024-25
Proven and potential academic excellence, degree-level qualifications.
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- a master’s degree with an overall grade of 67% or above and normally with a dissertation at 67% or above; and
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in any subject.
At least one such degree should normally be in a branch of anthropology (eg social, cultural, medical, biological, evolutionary) relevant to their proposed research. Distinction-level students in a closely related discipline may be considered for direct entry as Probationer Research Students on the condition that they undertake some coursework in the relevant field of anthropology in their first year. The final degree result should be 67%, or equivalent.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum acceptable GPA sought is 3.75 out of 4.0.
If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
- Part-time applicants will also be expected to show evidence of the ability to commit time to study and, if applicable, an employer's commitment to make time available to study, to complete coursework, and attend course and University events and modules. Where appropriate, evidence should also be provided of permission to use employers’ data in the proposed research project.
- Publications are not expected of applicants.
- This degree involves the close analysis of published sources as well as verbal and written critical reflections in the form of oral presentations, essays and exam answers. It is therefore essential to your chance of successfully completing the program that you meet these higher-level English language requirements as stipulated by the University.
English language proficiency
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level . If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.
*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) † Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement .
Declaring extenuating circumstances
If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.
You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading.
References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process. Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our ' After you apply ' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed .
Shortlisting and selection
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:
- socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups ;
- country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
- protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
Admissions panels and assessors
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our ' After you apply ' pages provide more information about offers and conditions .
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:
If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.
Disclosure of criminal convictions
In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.
You will receive all or most of your academic supervision in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography. You will have a named supervisor, possibly two, who will have overall responsibility for the direction of your work from inception to submission.
Workspaces are available in the school on a first-come, first-served basis, though your college will also have library and workspace facilities and desks are also available in the Bodleian and other University libraries. Laboratory and other dedicated workspaces and equipment for methods teaching will be provided where required. All students receive an email account.
The Social Sciences Library is the main resource library for degrees in anthropology. The Pitt Rivers Museum has its own library, the Balfour Library. You may also use other departmental libraries, your college library and the University’s Bodleian Library and its dependent libraries. The University has a wealth of electronic resources, some specific to particular libraries.
As a research student, you are permitted – though not obliged - to undertake some undergraduate teaching, where available. Methods and skills training are offered through the school, the Social Sciences Doctoral Training Centre and other institutions.
A programme of research seminars is available, some specifically for research students and others featuring talks by invited speakers, often from outside the university. The principal event in this programme is the departmental seminar, run weekly on Fridays during term time.
A student-run society, the Oxford University Anthropology Society, runs coffee mornings, talks and other social and academic events throughout the year. Seminars, especially those involving outside speakers, often proceed to local pubs or restaurants after the talk.
Anthropology and Museum Ethnography
Studying international development at Oxford means engaging with some of the most pressing issues of our time: from global governance and security to migration and human rights; from poverty and inequality to technological innovation and enterprise; from children and youth to environmental change and sustainability.
At Oxford you will take a unique, multi- and interdisciplinary approach to examine these and other complex issues affecting the countries of the developing world and the emerging economies. The approach encompasses economics, politics, international relations, anthropology, history, sociology, and law, and teaching is provided by world-class scholars in these fields. Our courses also offer small class sizes, personal supervision, training in methods, and the opportunity to research and write an original thesis and make an active contribution.
The department is a lively community that is recognised internationally as one of the top centres for research and teaching in development studies. It hosts some 70 distinguished academics and a number of externally funded research groups that are at the forefront of their specialist subject areas.
Our students come from across the world. At Oxford, they are taught to develop as critical and independent thinkers and when they leave us they go on to forge varied and successful careers as scholars, practitioners and policy-makers in the field of international development and beyond.
View all courses View taught courses View research courses
The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2024-25. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships , if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential.
For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.
Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:
Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the school's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2024-25
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Information about course fees.
Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges .
Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.
Following the period of fee liability , you may also be required to pay a University continuation charge and a college continuation charge. The University and college continuation charges are shown on the Continuation charges page.
Where can I find further information about fees?
The Fees and Funding section of this website provides further information about course fees , including information about fee status and eligibility and your length of fee liability .
There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees (or, after fee liability ends, continuation charges) and living costs. However, please note that, depending on your choice of research topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses. Standard travel insurance can be provided by the University. However, students may be required to pay any additional insurance premiums associated with travel to areas with an increased level of risk and/or for travel of more than 12 months duration, and should factor this into their planning for fieldwork.
Please note that you are required to attend in Oxford for a minimum of 30 days each year, and you may incur additional travel and accommodation expenses for this. Also, depending on your choice of research topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur further additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.
In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2024-25 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,345 and £1,955 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our living costs page. The current economic climate and high national rate of inflation make it very hard to estimate potential changes to the cost of living over the next few years. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2024-25, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of around 5% each year – although this rate may vary depending on the national economic situation. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.
All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford , as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference . Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs).
For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges.
The following colleges accept students for full-time study on this course:
- Campion Hall
- Green Templeton College
- Harris Manchester College
- Hertford College
- Keble College
- Kellogg College
- Linacre College
- Magdalen College
- Regent's Park College
- Reuben College
- St Anne's College
- St Antony's College
- St Catherine's College
- St Cross College
- St Edmund Hall
- St Hugh's College
- St John's College
- St Peter's College
- Wolfson College
- Wycliffe Hall
The following colleges accept students for part-time study on this course:
Before you apply
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance .
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Readmission for current Oxford graduate taught students
If you're currently studying for an Oxford graduate taught course and apply to this course with no break in your studies, you may be eligible to apply to this course as a readmission applicant. The application fee will be waived for an eligible application of this type. Check whether you're eligible to apply for readmission .
Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?
Before you apply, you should identify an academic member of staff who is willing to supervise you and has the resources to support your proposed research project. You should do this by contacting them directly. Details of academic staff, including their research interests and contact details, can be found on the department's website.
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents .
For this course, the application form will include questions that collect information that would usually be included in a CV/résumé. You will not be asked to upload a separate document.
If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
Proposed field and title of research project
Under the 'Field and title of research project' please enter your proposed field or area of research if this is known. If the department has advertised a specific research project that you would like to be considered for, please enter the project title here instead.
You should not use this field to type out a full research proposal. You will be able to upload your research supporting materials separately if they are required (as described below).
If known, under 'Proposed supervisor name' enter the name of the academic(s) who you would like to supervise your research. Otherwise, leave this field blank.
Referees: Three overall, academic preferred
Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.
Ideally three academic letters of reference are required. Only if one or more such letters cannot be provided should professional reference(s) be supplied instead.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement and motivation.
Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.
More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.
Research proposal: A maximum of 2,000 words
Your research proposal should state the research question, briefly discuss any key literature, discuss methods and provide a basic research timetable. Your research proposal must be written in English. The word count does not include any bibliography.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for the coherence of the proposal; the originality of the project; evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study; the ability to present a reasoned case in English; the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available for the course; commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course; preliminary knowledge of research techniques; capacity for sustained and intense work; reasoning ability; ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.
It will be normal for your ideas subsequently to change in some ways as you investigate the evidence and develop your project. You should nevertheless make the best effort you can to demonstrate the extent of your research question, sources and method at this moment.
Written work: Two essays, a maximum of 2,000 words each
You should submit two pieces of academically-related written work in English, in any discipline. The two items may be separate extracts from a longer work like a taught-course thesis. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.
This will be assessed for a comprehensive understanding of the subject area; understanding of problems in the area; ability to construct and defend an argument; powers of analysis; and powers of expression.
Start or continue your application
You can start or return to an application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, please refer to the requirements above and consult our Application Guide for advice . You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.
Application Guide Apply - Full time Apply - Part time
Closed to applications for entry in 2024-25
Applications will open in early September 2023
12:00 midday UK time on:
Friday 5 January 2024 Latest deadline for most Oxford scholarships Final application deadline for entry in 2024-25
† Three-year average (applications for entry in 2020-21 to 2022-23) *Three-year average (applications for entry in 2020-21 and 2022-23)
Further information and enquiries
This course is offered by the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography
- Course page and FAQs on the school's website
- Funding information from the school
- Academic and research staff
- Research in the school
- Social Sciences Division
- Residence requirements for full-time courses
Advice about contacting the department can be found in the How to apply section of this page
✉ [email protected] ☎ +44 (0)1865 274670
See the application guide
Visa eligibility for part-time study
We are unable to sponsor student visas for part-time study on this course. Part-time students may be able to attend on a visitor visa for short blocks of time only (and leave after each visit) and will need to remain based outside the UK.
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.
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24), programme starts, applications accepted.
- 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.
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.
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
Research may be pursued in or across five main areas, each of which is the focus of separate sections in the department: Evolutionary and Environmental Anthropology; Social Anthropology; Material Culture; Medical Anthropology; and Public Anthropology. We offer a wide range of specialisations within these fields.
What this course will give you
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.
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 foundation of your career
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. These include:
- Social and market research
- Government and policy (including senior levels of Government in the UK)
- Digital and high-tech design
- Heritage, museums and environmental reserves
The MPhil/PhD cultivates advanced skills in qualitative and quantitative methods, expert knowledge of the anthropological issues pertinent to their field of study and original data collection. 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.
Our graduate students attend and participate in seminars, workshops and conferences within the department and interdisciplinary research centres across UCL, providing opportunities to network with leading academics across a variety of research fields.
Teaching and learning
The PhD is examined by a viva committee comprising of two experts in the field, an external examiner who can be based anywhere in the world, and an internal examiner who is normally from the University of London. You should not have had much prior contact with either examiner. Your supervisor nominates suitable examiners during your final year, in consultation with you, and the nominations are scrutinised by UCL’s examinations office who may approve or reject them.
The examiners have several weeks, or sometimes months, to read your thesis in detail. The viva exam is a meeting in which the examiners and yourself discuss your work, both through direct questions and more informal conversation, and it normally takes two or more hours.
Research areas and structure
The department provides supervision in the following areas, among others:
- 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
- Cultures of Consumption and the Home
- Cosmology, Religion, Ontology and Culture (CROC)
- Culture and Human Wellbeing
- Design Anthropology
- 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)
- 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 Cultures 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.
The MPhil/PhD takes place in a research environment that includes the following components. These are:
- Weekly research seminars, organised according to sub-disciplinary section. Doctoral Researchers are strongly expected to attend their seminar series every week.
- RRGs – Research & Reading Groups which PGRs set up and/or join.
- Supportive courses, notably Research Design and Presentation (Year 1); Thesis-Writing Seminar (Years 2 & 3); Research Methods (Year 1)
- Peer-group interaction facilitated by common-room and hot-desk office spaces
Workshops organised in the department at the rate of up to 10 per year.
In Year One, you will crystallise your project with your Primary Supervisor, select a Secondary Supervisor and prepare for upgrade from MPhil to PhD as UCL requires. The upgrading normally comprises in a panel of staff, chaired by your subsidiary supervisor, who probe your detailed research review and proposal. This panel normally takes place after 9 months, before fieldwork commences but (a) may occur at 12 months and sometimes (b) after the period of fieldwork.
You will usually spend between 12 and 15 months undertaking data collection. For ethnographic projects this means being ‘in the field’, but data collection can also take place in laboratory or archive settings (for example in Biological Anthropology or some Material Culture work). For some projects, shorter periods in the field are appropriate. Undertaking fieldwork is subject to approval as regards data protection, ethics, and risk issues.
You will usually return from fieldwork to write up in your third year and during the final CRS year (CRS means Completing Research Status, during which you do not pay fees). Your third year should ideally be devoted to writing exclusively. Assuming your PhD progresses well during that year, you are encouraged to gain teaching experience during your CRS writing-up year, or to undertake some similar vocational experience such as publications. Minor variations of this structure occur within the sub-disciplinary sections of the Department.
The degree promotes advanced skills in qualitative and quantitative methods and expert knowledge of the anthropological issues pertinent to their sub-disciplinary field of study. You will collect original data through methodologies that include but are not limited to participant observation, formal and informal interviews, ethnographic recordings, surveys, object and visual analyses, archival research, auto-ethnography, oral and genealogical histories, laboratory work, excavation, and participatory action research.
The MPhil/PhD programme is expected to be completed by full-time researchers in three years plus one in CRS (ie. it is officially three years of registration but researchers are permitted to take up to four years). For part-time researchers, the work is to be completed in five fee-paying years, plus two in CRS. You enter CRS when you are judged to be within less than one year of submitting, so if you have not made sufficient progress at the end of the third year, you may not be able to enter CRS.
A part-time MPhil/PhD takes place over five years, plus two in CRS.
There is no standard placement programme. Some anthropologists do work in institutions for up to a year as a part of their fieldwork, and many form collaborations with other institutions.
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.
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 .
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 .
Funding your studies
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:
- 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 .
UCL Research Opportunity Scholarship (ROS)
Deadline: 13 January 2023 Value: UK rate fees, a maintenance stipend, conference costs and professional development package (3 years) Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need Eligibility: UK
We take account of three things in an application:
- CV (ie. Does the candidate have the background to execute this work to a world-class standard of excellence).
- Project proposal (ie. Is it anthropological and does it have academic merit for new knowledge).
- Prospective supervisor (ie. Whether we have the expertise to advise on this research).
Every anthropology project is a little different. Normally candidates require the support of a prospective supervisor in the department, with whom they have talked through their proposal, their interests, experience and ideas.
It is not an official requirement to have a previous academic background which includes anthropology, but the project and the candidate should clearly be equipped to undertake research in an anthropology department and which contributes to anthropology. In general, projects supervised in the Social and Cultural Anthropology and in the Medical Anthropology subsections do tend to require you to have an anthropology background. Biological Anthropology and Material Visual & Digital Culture are more mixed, with some candidates coming from areas such as biological sciences, palaeontology, archaeology, design, design history, HCI, and museum studies.
Advice on these issues can be sought from prospective supervisors and from the departmental PhD handbook.
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.
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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Find our about our research in anthropology.
- Anthropology PhD
Find a supervisor
Mode of study
3 years full-time
6 years part-time
Brunel Anthropology is a team of internationally recognised researchers, producing ground-breaking work rooted in ethnographic fieldwork spanning Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania. Academic staff, post-doctoral researchers and PhD students alike work within a single Social Anthropology research grouping, designed both to capitalise on our historic strengths—in the anthropologies of global health; childhood and youth; histories and concepts of anthropological knowledge; and performance, politics and violence—as well as enabling a proactive embrace of new global challenges. The latter includes exciting new work that engages with international environmental crises, human-animal relations, and contemporary imaginings of the future.
Find out about the exciting research we do in this area. Browse profiles of our experts, discover the research groups and their inspirational research activities you too could be part of. We’ve also made available extensive reading materials published by our academics and PhD students.
Learn more about research in this area.
Diversity and openness
PhD students come to Brunel from diverse cultural backgrounds and belong to a genuinely international anthropology department. (The Times Higher Educational Supplement recently described Brunel as “the most international university”.) Brunel’s teaching and research reflect this diversity. Our supervisors have expertise in a wide range of topics and countries and our students have carried out research in five continents.
A multidisciplinary ethos in a leading centre of social sciences
Socially and culturally diverse, Brunel anthropology also benefits from its position within a multidisciplinary social sciences school in which students are able to take modules in the sister disciplines of psychology, social psychology, and sociology/communications. (Even if, as a PhD candidate, you do not want to opt for a psychology module, you may find it stimulating to sit in on lectures in the evolutionary psychology series or catch the odd distinguished visiting lecturer.) Anthropology students join with other social sciences students in the Graduate Research Skills and Professional Development module which helps them with presentation skills, and gives them the know-how necessary to get research published and make the most of career opportunities.
A friendly and supportive research environment
Added to Brunel’s diversity and openness is the friendly and supportive atmosphere of its anthropology department: something not possible in a large impersonal institution. In a middle-sized department, what we can offer is a high level of personal attention, with training and supervision tailored to the interests of individual students. You will be assigned two supervisors, often with complementary expertise, but you will of course benefit from the broader range of knowledge in our anthropology team.
You can explore our campus and facilities for yourself by taking our virtual tour .
Our researchers create knowledge and advance understanding, and equip versatile doctoral researchers with the confidence to apply what they have learnt for the benefit of society. Find out more about working with the Supervisory Team .
You are welcome to approach your potential supervisor directly to discuss your research interests. Search for expert supervisors for your chosen field of research.
The Anthropology staff and their research interests:
- Nicolas Argenti - Youth, childhood, performance, political violence and collective memory; Cameroon, Greece
- Andrew Beatty - Psychological and psychiatric anthropology, emotion, religion and ritual, new approaches to ethnographic writing; Indonesia and Mexico
- Liana Chua - Anthropology of conversion, ritual and religion; development and conservation; human-animal relations and multispecies ethnography; ‘anthropocene’ discourses, politics and ontologies; materiality, museology, visual anthropology; Malaysian Borneo
- Peggy Froerer - Education and schooling; childhood and youth; poverty and development; inequality and social mobility; nationalism and ethnic conflict; South Asia
- Eric Hirsch - Historicity and landscape; myth, personhood and ritual; power and property relations; Papua New Guinea, Britain
- Maria Kastrinou - Sectarianism, nationalism and minorities; the state, authoritarianism, statelessness; Islam and Druze religion; Syrian war, refugees; social politics of energy and electricity; post-conflict reconciliation and development; Middle East, Greece, Europe
- Isak Niehaus - Political anthropology; witchcraft and cosmology; HIV/AIDS; masculinity and sexuality; history of anthropology; Southern Africa
- Will Rollason - Development and the post-colony; the future; youth; football; Rwanda, Papua New Guinea
- James Staples - Medical anthropology (leprosy, disability, the body and pain); suicide; anthropology of food; biography and life history; South Asia
Please browse our online individual staff profiles, but in general, we welcome anthropological research in the following areas:
- Medical Anthropology
- Psychological and Psychiatric Anthropology
- Anthropology of Education and Schooling
- Anthropology of Childhood and Youth
- International Development and Humanitarian Assistance
- Global Conservation
- Human/Animal Relations and Multi-Species Ethnography
- Anthropology of Food
- Anthropology of Emotion
- Collective Memory
- Biography and Life History
- Performance and Embodiment
- Landscape, Time and Temporality
- Religion and Ritual
- Anthropocenic Discourses and Ontologies
- Political Violence, the State, Nationalism
- Visual Anthropology, Materiality, Museology
While we welcome applications from student with a clear direction for their research, we can also provide you with some ideas. Search for PhD topics for your chosen field of research.
A PhD involves demonstrating through original research or other advanced scholarship the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge at the forefront of an academic discipline or professional practice, the ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the general of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline.
This course can be studied 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time, starting in January. Or this course can be studied 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time, starting in October. Or this course can be studied 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time, starting in April.
Find out about what progress might look like at each stage of study here: Research degree progress structure.
Excellent research support and training
The Graduate School provides a range of personal, professional and career development opportunities. This includes workshops, online training, coaching and events, to enable you to enhance your professional profile, refine your skills, and plan your next career steps as part of the Researcher Development Programme . The researcher development programme (RDP) offers workshops and seminars in a range of areas including progression, research management, research dissemination, and careers and personal development. You will also be offered a number of online, self-study courses on BBL, including Research Integrity, Research Skills Toolkit, Research Methods in Literature Review and Principles of Research Methods.
Brunel's Library is open 24 hours a day, has 400,000 books and 250,000 ebooks, and an annual budget of almost £2m. Subject information Specialists train students in the latest technology, digital literacy, and digital dissemination of scholarly outputs. As well as the physical resources available in the Library, we also provide access to a wealth of electronic resources. These include databases, journals and e-books. Access to these resources has been bought by the Library through subscription and is limited to current staff and students.
Dedicated research support staff provide guidance and training on open access, research data management, copyright and other research integrity issues.
Find out more: Brunel Library
Careers and your future
You will receive tailored careers support during your PhD and for up to three years after you complete your research at Brunel. We encourage you to actively engage in career planning and managing your personal development right from the start of your research, even (or perhaps especially) if you don't yet have a career path in mind. Our careers provision includes online information and advice, one-to-one consultations and a range of events and workshops. The Professional Development Centre runs a varied programme of careers events throughout the academic year. These include industry insight sessions, recruitment fairs, employer pop-ups and skills workshops.
In addition, where available, you may be able to undertake some paid work as we recognise that teaching and learning support duties represent an important professional and career development opportunity.
Find out more.
Paid work available to research students Undertaking teaching and learning support duties represents an important professional and career development opportunity for postgraduate research students. Brunel offers two levels of paid work available to Postgraduate Research students. The first level post is as a Demonstrator and the second level post is as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA). Teaching and learning support duties will vary between Departments and research students should not rely on such opportunities being available. Find out more here .
Following the completion of the course students may follow several career paths:
- Career path within academia
- Career path within the international development sector or aid industry, working with non-governmental organisations (e.g., Oxfam, Save the Children, Green Peace) or with international governmental agencies (e.g . World Health Organisation, World Food Programme, UNESCO, etc.)
- Career path with cultural organisations: museum curator, education officer, independent researcher
- Career path in government or with the civil service (e.g., UK Department for International Development, the NHS, local Councils)
- Career path with local or international corporations, as organisational consultants (Intel, IBM, Saatchi and Saatchi, Nike)
UK entry requirements
The general University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (1st or 2:1).
An interview will be required as part of the admissions process and will be conducted by at least two academic staff members remotely via MS Teams, Zoom, or face to face.
Applicants will be required to submit a personal statement and a research statement. Please contact your proposed supervisor, where possible, to receive feedback and guidance on your research statement before submitting it. Learn how to prepare a research statement here .
EU and International entry requirements
If you require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK, you must prove knowledge of the English language so that we can issue you a Certificate of Acceptance for Study (CAS). To do this, you will need an IELTS for UKVI or Trinity SELT test pass gained from a test centre approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and on the Secure English Language Testing (SELT) list . This must have been taken and passed within two years from the date the CAS is made.
English language requirements
- IELTS: 6.5 (min 6 in all areas)
- Pearson: 59 (59 in all subscores)
- BrunELT : 63% (min 58% in all areas)
- TOEFL: 90 (min 20 in all)
You can find out more about the qualifications we accept on our English Language Requirements page.
Should you wish to take a pre-sessional English course to improve your English prior to starting your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider for the same reason. We offer our own BrunELT English test and have pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet requirements or who wish to improve their English. You can find out more information on English courses and test options through our Brunel Language Centre .
Please check our Admissions pages for more information on other factors we use to assess applicants. This information is for guidance only and each application is assessed on a case-by-case basis. Entry requirements are subject to review, and may change.
Fees and funding
2023/24 entry, international.
Fees quoted are per year and are subject to an annual increase.
Fees for EU applicants – For entry in 2023/24 academic year, eligible EU applicants will have the same tuition fees as UK students to continue our support during this transition period. These fees will be applied for the duration of the course.
Some courses incur additional course related costs . You can also check our on-campus accommodation costs for more information on living expenses.
Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. Recently the UK Government made available the Doctoral Student Loans of up to £25,000 for UK and EU students and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.
Scholarships and bursaries
- Brunel Graduate Discount 2023/24
- Doctoral Researcher / PhD Studentships
- Doctoral Researcher Funding Opportunities
Culture and Evolution PhD
Social Work PhD
Ageing Studies PhD
Creative Writing PhD
Sociology and Communication PhD
Alternatively, use our A–Z index
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Discover more about this subject area
PhD Social Anthropology / Overview
Year of entry: 2023
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- A First or Upper Second class Bachelor's degree in a cognate subject (or its international equivalent).
- A Master's degree in Anthropology with minimum 65% in the dissertation and overall average of 65%, and no mark below 55% (or overseas equivalent).
Full entry requirements
Please ensure you include all required supporting documents at the time of submission, as incomplete applications may not be considered.
Admission to studying for a PhD is highly competitive, so please allow as much time as possible to prepare your application, browse our research pages and academics' profiles, and familiarise yourself with the application process and any important deadlines.
To be considered for external funding sources (for example, ESRC NWSSDTP), you need to apply far enough in advance of the relevant external funding deadlines, which are usually much earlier than the programme deadline listed below. For internal studentships from the School of Social Sciences, you must submit your completed application by 1 December 2022.
If you are applying for or have secured external funding (for example, from an employer or government) or are self-funding, you must submit your application before the relevant deadline to be considered. You will not be able to apply after these deadlines have passed.
- For September 2023 entry: 30 June 2023
- For January 2024 entry: 30 September 2023
- Examine human behaviour and relationships under expert research supervision.
- Join a lively PhD community of students working in all of the world's continents and on a variety of topics.
- Work closely with an expert supervisor, with further guidance from at least one extra supervisor.
For entry in the academic year beginning September 2023, the tuition fees are as follows:
- PhD (full-time) UK students (per annum): £4,712 International, including EU, students (per annum): £21,000
- PhD (part-time) UK students (per annum): £2,356 International, including EU, students (per annum): £10,500
Further information for EU students can be found on our dedicated EU page.
We receive money from a range of sources to help you fund your research and have a variety of awards on offer, covering tuition fees and a generous stipend, including school and departmental studentships and the President's Doctoral Scholar award
Application deadlines for internal funding opportunities are often at the beginning of December for programmes starting the following September. Check the School’s How to apply page for further advice.
If you're planning to apply for a scholarship or award that is not attached to a particular project, you'll normally need to hold an offer of a place from the University before applying.
Search for current funding opportunities by country and research programme using our funding database search tool
If you wish to be considered for funding available via the School or Research Council (ESRC) you must submit your complete programme application as soon as possible, no later than 1 December 2022.
- Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships Plan (CSFP) General Scholarship
- School of Social Sciences - PhD Studentships - 2023
- School of Social Sciences - North West Social Sciences Doctoral Training Partnership (ESRC NWSSDTP) Studentships 2023
- School of Social Sciences - China Scholarship Council Joint Scholarship for PhD Study 2023
- School of Social Sciences - Trudeau Doctoral Scholarships 2023
- School of Social Sciences - PhD Studentship with the Stuart Hall Foundation - September 2023
- School of Social Sciences - President's Doctoral Scholarship (PDS) 2023/24
See: School Subjects
Programmes in related subject areas
Use the links below to view lists of programmes in related subject areas.
- Social Anthropology
- Social Sciences
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