The MA (Hons) in Social Anthropology explores the fundamental question of ‘what it is to be human’. It seeks to answer this by examining the diverse ways in which human beings establish and live social lives in the contemporary world.
Although Social Anthropology involves studying a full variety of human contexts, at St Andrews the chief focus is on societies in East and West Africa, the Pacific, South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Central Asia.
More information for 2020 entry will be available in September 2019. For information on the current year of entry for this course see the 2019 page.
These grades are the overall standards required to consider you for entry. Find out more about Standard, Minimum and Gateway entry requirements using academic entry explained and see which entry requirements you need to look at using the entry requirements indicator.
Standard entry grades: AAAB
Minimum entry grades: AABB
Gateway entry grades: BBBB
Standard entry grades: AAB
Minimum entry grades: ABB
Standard entry grades: 36 (HL 6,6,5)
Minimum entry grades: 36 (HL 6,5,5)
We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes, please see our entry requirements for more information.
For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject specific entrance requirements as outlined on their pages.
If English is not your first language, you will need an overall IELTS score of 7.0, with a minimum score of 6.5 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English Language qualification.
No previous knowledge of this subject is required.
Faculty entry requirements
You must also meet the Faculty of Arts minimum qualifications. These vary depending on which qualifications you hold.
SQA National 5 (B) or equivalent in English and one SQA National 5 (B) from the following:
Computing Science or equivalent
Lifeskills Mathematics (A grade)
GCSE (B or 5) in English, English Language or English Literature, and one GCSE (B or 5) from the following:
Computing Science or equivalent
Passes in other examinations at equivalent levels and subjects may be accepted by the Dean of the Faculty. More information on how to apply via other entry routes or accreditation of prior learning and experience can be found on the University’s entry requirements web page.
St Andrews students meet with their Adviser of Studies at the beginning of Semester 1 in September to complete advising – a compulsory part of the matriculation process. After module choices have been decided, a timetable will be allocated indicating the dates and times of classes.
The Department of Social Anthropology has a well-established record of research and publication, with particular regional strengths in Amerindian, Caribbean, Latin American and Pacific studies. Academic staff are actively involved in anthropological debates around cosmopolitanism, migration, ethics, new media, medicine, mental health, art and literature, human-animal relations, economics, energy and climate change.
The University of St Andrews as a whole was voted top in the UK for student academic experience in The National Student Survey 2018 as 94% of St Andrews final year students gave the University top marks for the quality of the learning and teaching experience.
The University has secured a TEF Gold Award for the quality of teaching and the undergraduate experience.
A degree in Social Anthropology is important for any career where knowledge of other cultures is vital, such as in overseas development or in community relations work. Graduates from Social Anthropology have entered into a wide range of careers including the diplomatic service, social work, law and business.
Popular career paths for Social Anthropology graduates include:
international or non-profit organisations
The insight of an anthropologist is valued in any occupation that requires a sensitivity to different ways of life and thought, or which demands the manipulation of theoretical ideas in regard to the context of complicated human needs. A full understanding of ‘the human element’ in technological processes is increasingly in demand.
In your degree, you will also gain a number of transferable skills which are highly valued by employers across all sectors. These include the ability to:
understand how human beings are shaped by and interact with social, cultural and physical environments.
read and interpret texts within their historical, social and theoretical contexts.
express ideas in writing, summarise arguments and distinguish between them.
use skills in information technology and oral and written communication.
recognise the politics of language, indirect forms of communication, forms of power, theoretical statements and claims of authority.
The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.
Social Anthropology students may participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. You may also have the opportunity to participate in the School Abroad exchange programme. For more information about study abroad options, please see the study abroad website.
From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.
Social Anthropology operates a Mentoring Scheme. This scheme matches incoming first-year students with Honours students in the Department. The scheme aims to help first-year students integrate into the anthropological community, encourage stronger links between sub-honours and Honours students, give a sense of what modules are like, and cultivate an enthusiasm and love of Social Anthropology.
Social Anthropology students may be interested in joining the Anthropology Society, which aims to foster enthusiasm and curiosity towards studying humans around the world. The group hosts a range of informal and friendly events including lectures, workshops and socials.
The Department of Social Anthropology is located at the centre of the University in a three-storey building dating back to the 15th century. It is only a minute’s walk to the University Library and St Salvator’s College. Most of your lectures, seminars and tutorials will be held here or in nearby buildings.
The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As the campus is located around town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh make it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland.
“I chose Social Anthropology as a part of my degree as it is the study of what it is to be human. What makes the anthropological study at St Andrews special are the staff. It is a fantastic experience to study with them. Their research (to list a few) includes literary, linguistic, or feminist anthropologies.”
Dani (Kolobrzeg, Poland)
Department of Social Anthropology University of St Andrews 71 North Street St Andrews KY16 9AL
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).