Postgraduate research courses in Social Anthropology


The Department offers a PhD degree in Social Anthropology which is based on a minimum of three years’ full-time study and independent research.

At St Andrews there is an intellectually vibrant and devoted community at postgraduate level, and PhD students form an essential part of this. The programme has a strongly international character, with students from a range of cultural and academic backgrounds. Having been ranked first in both the 2014 National Student Survey of Teaching and the 2014 Guardian ranking of UK universities, the Department has strong theoretical interests and regional expertise across the world along with four internationally recognised research centres.

According to the National Student Survey 2019 and the Guardian University league tables 2020, our final-year Anthropology students are the most satisfied in all of the UK with both overall quality of course and our teaching.

For a list of departmental research interests, see the staff profiles.

Master of Studies by Research

For those with sufficient undergraduate experience in Social Anthropology (usually equivalent to a first class BA Hons degree in Social Anthropology), it is possible to apply to enter the Master of Studies (MSt) by Research.

This research degree has no credited taught modules but instead runs solely through individual supervision with a listed member of staff. The Master of Studies is assessed through a 30,000-word dissertation on a topic of the student’s choice, which is assessed by a team composed of an internal and external examiner.

Those interested in this research degree choice should contact the Department before applying in order to discuss the proposal topic and possible supervisor.

This degree runs for one year full time.


Department of Social Anthropology

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2977


The offer of a University place to undertake study or research does not carry with it the guarantee of financial support. You will be required to support yourself or to apply to a grant-awarding body.

Departmental scholarships

The Department of Social Anthropology will be granting a number of scholarships for doctoral students starting their PhD in 2021/2022. These will cover fees or subsistence or make a contribution towards both. Students wanting to be considered for these scholarships must have submitted a complete application for a place in the Department’s doctoral program by 15th April 2021. They should also write via email to Dr Paloma Gay y Blasco, Director of Postgraduate Research, stating their desire to be considered for this funding by the same date. Please note that this is a firm deadline and that scholarship applications after this date will not be considered.

ESRC scholarships

Students wanting to apply through the Department of Social Anthropology should ensure that they register and upload their application to the SGSSS GradHub by 7th January 2021 (5pm). They will be notified whether they can progress to the next stage on the 1st February 2021. Shortlisted students will have the opportunity to revise their application research proposal until the "Stage 2" deadline, which is 11th February 2021 (5pm). 

Please note that you must have submitted a complete PhD application to the University of St Andrews before you can be considered for competition entry.

We recommend that you read the eligibility guidelines and instructions for applicants to the ESRC scholarship competition.

Global PhD in Social Anthropology

The University of St Andrews is pleased to offer a scholarship funded by St Leonard’s Postgraduate College, to support an exceptional student undertaking doctoral research in the project Gender and Development in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

The deadline for applications is 1 February 2021.

Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarships

Two fully-funded Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarships in the Humanities are available for outstanding students looking to commence their doctoral degree in September 2021 at the University of St Andrews in a variety of disciplines including Social Anthropology. Each scholarship is worth £90,000 covering both fees and maintenance costs for three years (full-time registration) or six years (part-time registration).

Please note that the remit of these scholarships is rather narrow, and that only projects on themes related to history, literature, and languages are eligible.

Carnegie PhD

The prestigious Carnegie PhD Scholarship scheme supports a limited number of graduates, with first class Honours undergraduate degrees from a Scottish university, who wish to pursue postgraduate research leading to a PhD at a university in Scotland. There is no restriction on the subject or field.

Candidates should be of outstanding quality. Overseas applicants are also eligible, and if successful the difference between home and overseas fees will be met by the University. Full details about the scholarship are available on the Carnegie PhD Scholarships webpage.

St Andrews scholarships

The University offers some scholarships to research students. Please check the webpage for additional details.

External funding opportunities

  • The Postgraduate Studentships website has a comprehensive searchable database of funding opportunities.
  • The Scholarship Times website provides a comprehensive searchable database of international funding opportunities.
  • The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) offers both research student awards and Masters scholarships, chiefly for students from the UK and the EU. Students should apply both to BRISMES and to the University of St Andrews, clearly marking their desire to be recommended for this scholarship.

For more information please email Dr Paloma Gay y Blasco, Director of Postgraduate Research.

“My PhD supervisors are incredibly supportive and the help provided by other lecturers has provoked a richer engagement with my material – whether discussing my research, lending books or suggesting new ideas to consider. The department is really responsive and supports us in voicing conference ideas, recommending speakers or adjusting postgraduate seminars to meet the needs we identify. It is an academically engaging environment and a place where I have encountered great mentors.”

Molly Rosenbaum
Molly Rosenbaum
- PhD student