Research environment

Since its start in 1979, Social Anthropology at St Andrews has always been outward looking. As much as our research community is defined through our distinctive thematic, regional and interdisciplinary strengths, and through the distinction of our collegial research culture and worldclass institutional environment, we are, of course, primarily defined through our relations with diverse communities. As anthropologists we understand that we are not only our own persons, and equally, we are much more than the sum of our St Andrews-based community.

Within our Department we have expertise in cosmopolitanism, medical anthropology, climate crisis and energy ethics, history and temporality, material culture, gender inequality. Our work spans across geographic regions including Britain, Europe, Melanesia and the Pacific, South America and the Caribbean, Mongolia and Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Our people, their intellectual curiosity, their commitments to each other, to academic excellence and to social engagement, are our greatest resources. We take care to look after and support the well-being and development of our research community which includes research students, early career researchers and tenured staff, together with our professional services colleagues. An engaged and high achieving cohort of home and international research students has always enlivened and driven our anthropological research community.

Research facilities

The Department of Social Anthropology is located in two buildings in the beautiful St Salvator’s Quadrangle – one of the oldest parts of the University and located right in the centre of town. Here all academic staff have their offices along with the departmental secretarial office which holds an extensive collection of ethnographic films available for loan to staff and students. The buildings also host:

  • a common room and kitchen
  • a dedicated postgraduate resource room incorporating:
    • the Ladislav Holy and Steven Rubenstein library collections
    • the Centre for Amerindian Studies library
  • postgraduate offices and seminar rooms.

The University also has several longstanding ethnographic collections. It includes valuable and unique ethnographic artefacts from the 18th century and the Ladislav Holy archive containing his fieldnotes, ethnographic material, photographic collection and correspondence, as well as various regional collections. These collections offer students the opportunity to analyse, handle and curate material artefacts.

The Museum of the University of St Andrews Learning Loft, located a few minutes away, provides an ideal space for practical sessions with the Department's collection objects. The Byre Theatre is often used for film showings and creative productions.

The main University Library across the quad has an impressive collection in Social Anthropology and a constantly updated and ever-growing range in electronic resources.