Study at St Andrews

Anthropology, Art and Perception (MRes) 2017 entry

The MRes in Anthropology, Art and Perception provides training for postgraduate research into the anthropology of human creativity, art, material culture and visual expression. It takes perception as its starting point and draws on themes extending across the subject boundaries between art and anthropology.

2016 entry

Course type

Postgraduate; leading to a Master of Research (MRes)

Course duration

One year full time

Entry requirements

A good 2.1 Honours undergraduate degree. We welcome applications from students with an undergraduate degree in Social Anthropology and from those with no previous anthropological experience.

If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.

English language proficiency. See English language tests and qualifications.

Tuition fees

UK and EU: £7,500
Overseas: £17,090

Application deadline

Applications are accepted until shortly before teaching starts in September. Applicants should apply as early as possible to be eligible for certain scholarships and for international visa purposes.

Application requirements

  • CV
  • sample of academic written work (2,000 words)
  • two original signed academic references
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates
  • English language requirements certificate
  • letter of intent (optional).

For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes. 

Apply for this course

Course information

The MRes in Anthropology, Art and Perception is led by the Department of Social Anthropology within the School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies.


  • Students will explore new ways of thinking anthropologically and gain access to cutting-edge research tools for future research, including practical 'learning labs' with invited experts and a field visit.
  • The course benefits from small class sizes and an interdisciplinary approach.
  • MRes students take part in the Scottish Training in Anthropological Research (STAR) Programme, which brings postgraduate anthropology students across Scotland together on retreat as part of the Department's commitment to excellence and innovation in research training.

Course description

The programme takes perception as its starting point and draws on themes extending across the subject boundaries between art and anthropology. These theme include:

  • the senses and perception in anthropology
  • apprenticeship and practice-based research
  • observation and the use of attention in drawing, photography, sound and film
  • the relationship between art and psychology
  • representation
  • practical sensory project
  • heritage
  • design anthropology
  • commonalities between anthropological field work and contemporary arts practice.

The MRes provides an excellent grounding in contemporary research themes and innovative research methods for students aiming to do a PhD in anthropology, visual culture, design anthropology, heritage studies, and related subjects. It also provides an important training for students interested in a career in the heritage sector, development, the creative industries, workplace management and design.

Teaching format

Over two semesters, students take four compulsory modules. Teaching methods include formal lectures combined with seminar style teaching, one-off practical 'learning labs' with invited experts, and a field trip. Lecture groups are small. Modules are assessed through coursework which includes essays and independent research-led assignments.

Over the course of the year, with particular focus during the summer months, you will devise a research project culminating in a 15,000-word dissertation or 10,000-word dissertation with a practical element. Every taught postgraduate student is assigned an individual supervisor from among the anthropology staff who works with them closely to develop a topic and direction for the end of degree dissertation.

The Department of Social Anthropology provides postgraduates with access to a museum collection of ethnographic objects and a common room that includes a general anthropological class library, providing a space that is shared by both staff and postgraduates. The Departmental libraries, along with the main library which holds a fine anthropology collection, include materials from all ethnographic regions of the world.

Further particulars regarding curriculum development.


Each module typically comprises:

  • 22 contact hours for lectures and seminars, plus additional 'learning lab' time and field trip
  • 100% coursework assessment.

For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2016-2017 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2017 entry.

Semester 1

  • The Anthropology of Connections: Interdisciplinarity as Methodology: examines the relevance of other disciplines for social anthropology by working with methodologies and concepts drawn from history, social science, philosophy, language and the arts.
  • Anthropology, Art and Perception 1: centres on the role of perception in visual and material culture and covers haptic, visual, sonic and gustatory themes in anthropology, and addresses the role of aesthetics from ethnographic, anthropological and psychological perspectives.

Semester 2

  • Research Methods in Social Anthropology: examines the methodology of anthropological research through close attention to the relationship between method and fieldwork experience.
  • Anthropology, Art and Perception 2: explores anthropology's potential for contributing to and critiquing image production in film, art and photography; develops new sensory approaches to observation and engagement; and asks what is entailed in perceiving the past.

The modules listed ran in the academic year 2016–2017 and are indicative of this course. There is no guarantee that these modules will run for 2017 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.


Students can choose to complete a 15,000-word research dissertation or a 10,000-word dissertation with a practical element. Student dissertations will be supervised by a member of teaching staff who will advise on the choice of subject and provide guidance throughout the research process. The completed dissertation must be submitted by a specified date in August.

If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MRes, there are exit awards available that allow suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGCert or PGDip instead of an MRes.

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Wednesday 16 November 2016

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STAR programme

The Scottish Training in Anthropological Research (STAR) consortium brings together social anthropologists from the Universities of St Andrews, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow to support innovation in research and teaching.

In addition to co-hosting international conferences and workshops, the consortium runs two free week-long residential training courses each year in anthropology for postgraduate students and early career researchers. The first course is for students at the pre-fieldwork level and the second is for those at an advanced stage of research writing.


St Andrews graduates who have graduated during the last three years are eligible for a Recent Graduate Discount, which offers a 10% discount on tuition fees.

Find out more about postgraduate scholarships. 

After the MRes

Research degrees

In addition to the MRes, the School offers a two-year Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Anthropology, Art and Perception degree option. Students with an advanced background in Social Anthropology may be permitted to enrol directly into the second year of the MPhil and receive the degree solely from the 40,000-word thesis.

Many of our graduates continue their education by enrolling in PhD programmes at St Andrews or elsewhere. The department of Social Anthropology offers PhD supervision across a diverse range of theoretical interests and topics.

The Economic & Social Research Council offers studentships for UK residents which covers university and college fees as well as a maintenance element to contribute towards living costs. 

PhD in Social Anthropology


Social Anthropology graduates have characteristics many employers seek, and a Social Anthropology degree provides openings to a wide range of careers. Our graduates have gained successful employment in areas such as:

  • teaching
  • design
  • wildlife conservation
  • international policy and non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
  • journalism (BBC and The Independent)
  • marketing.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills. 


Department of Social Anthropology
School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies
71 North Street
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2977

Social Anthropology website

Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our Admissions policy.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online. (PDF, 72 KB).

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online. (PDF, 84 KB)