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Social Anthropology PhD/MA by Research (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

Start date
Flexible – September or January encouraged
Duration
Full time: PhD – 3 years, MA by Research – 1 year
Course Type
Postgraduate, Distance learning, Doctoral research
Fees

Annual tuition fee 2023 entry:
UK: £4,620 full-time, £2,310 part-time
International: £20,820 full-time; £10,410 part-time (distance learning only)
More detail.

The Department of African Studies and Anthropology is internationally recognised as a centre of excellence in research and postgraduate training. 

As a postgraduate researcher in the Department, you will benefit from its international staff, interdisciplinary approach, diverse range of expertise, and active research community.  Alongside our expertise in Africa and its diasporas, current DASA anthropologists also work in Europe and Melanesia, and can supervise projects related to their wide-ranging thematic expertise.  Our staff are committed to long term, on the ground, research on matters of global importance .

We offer two postgraduate research-only programmes, whether you are looking to complete your academic studies with a PhD or pursue your research at Masters level. Find out more about what to expect from a PhD and MA by Research.

At Birmingham, Postgraduate Taught and Postgraduate Research students also have the opportunity to learn graduate academic languages free of charge, to support your studies.

I love being a part of the academic community at Birmingham and my department is incredibly supportive. I enjoy attending regular research seminars which keep me up to date with the latest developments in the subject, while the University hosts an annual conference which is a great chance to meet scholars from across Africa.

Stacey

Why study this course?

  • World-leading research: Times Higher Education ranked the Department of African Studies and Anthropology second among all Area Studies departments in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework exercise 2021 based on Grade Point Average.
  • Fantastic research environment: Graduate students play a vital and active role in the Department’s research community, contributing to and organising a range of activities from weekly departmental seminars, which bring leading researchers in  to present their work, to frequent international conferences on cutting-edge research topics hosted on campus.
  • Staff expertise: The Department is home to an energetic and friendly community of anthropologists and africanists, who produce world-leading research in all core areas and a number of speciality areas. 

The postgraduate experience

The College of Arts and Law offers excellent support to its postgraduates, from libraries and research spaces, to careers support and funding opportunities. Learn more about your postgraduate experience.

Fees

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2023 entry are as follows:

  • UK: £4,620 full-time; £2,310 part-time *
  • International: £20,820 full-time; £10,410 part-time (distance learning only)

The same fees apply to both campus-based and distance learning study. The distance learning programme fee also includes one fully-funded visit to campus in the first year of study.

The above fees quoted are for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

* For UK postgraduate research students the University fee level is set at Research Council rates and as such is subject to change. The final fee will be announced by Research Councils UK in spring 2023.

Fee status

Eligibility for UK or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

Paying your fees

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

How To Apply

Application deadlines

Postgraduate research can start at any time during the year, but it is important to allow time for us to review your application and communicate a decision. If you wish to start in September 2023, we would recommend that you aim to submit your application and supporting documents by 3 July 2023.

If the programme has a Distance learning option then students will usually attend a residential visit in September or January, and those students wishing to attend the September residential are also encouraged to apply by 3 July 2023. The visit will take place at the end of September/beginning of October and you will receive further details once you have accepted your offer.

Six easy steps to apply for a postgraduate research course in the College of Arts and Law

Six steps to apply for our Postgraduate Research courses

Do you have an idea for an interesting research project? You can follow our six easy steps to apply to study for our postgraduate research courses. These include guidance on identifying funding opportunities and writing your research proposal.

Please also see our additional guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

Please note: While our PhD programmes are normally studied in three years full-time or six years part-time, and Masters-level research programmes one year full-time or two years part-time, many programmes have a longer length listed in course or funding applications. This is because the course length is defined as the maximum period of registration, which includes a period of supervised study plus a thesis awaited period. The maximum period of registration for a full-time PhD is four years (three years supervision plus one year thesis awaited). For a full-time Masters-level research programme, it is two years (one year supervision plus one year thesis awaited). For part-time programmes, the periods are double the full-time equivalent.

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

Our requirements for postgraduate research are dependent on the type of programme you are applying for:

  • For MRes and MA by Research programmes, entry to our programmes usually requires a good (normally a 2:1 or above) Honours degree, or an equivalent qualification if you were educated outside the UK, usually in a relevant area.
  • Applicants for a PhD will also need to hold a Masters qualification at Merit level or above (or its international equivalent), usually in a relevant area.

Any academic and professional qualifications or relevant professional experience you may have are normally taken into account, and in some cases, form an integral part of the entrance requirements.

If you are applying for distance learning research programmes, you will also be required to demonstrate that you have the time, commitment, facilities and experience to study by distance learning.

If your qualifications are non-standard or different from the entry requirements stated here, please contact the admissions tutor.

International students

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries - use our handy guide below to see what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements: standard language requirements apply for this course - IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional Course - if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.

IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band is equivalent to:

  • TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 21 in Reading, 21 Listening, 22 Speaking and 21 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): Academic 59 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced - minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 169 in any component

Learn more about international entry requirements

International Requirements


The Department of African Studies and Anthropology is an interdisciplinary department with an international reputation for research in social anthropology and a commitment to fostering critical understandings of the contemporary world.  

We offer expert supervision in migration and diasporas, international development, religion and society, economic inequality and insecurity, marginality, law and justice, youth, the urban and rights to the city, popular culture, kinship and gender and sexuality.

You can see the list of staff in the Department and their research interests here. It is also possible to work with interdisciplinary supervisory teams including staff from other schools and departments. For example, current students in the department work with co-supervisors from International Development, Political science and International Studies, Art History, Modern Languages and History. 

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for your future career, but this can also be enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University and the College of Arts and Law.

The University's Careers Network provides expert guidance and activities especially for postgraduates, which will help you achieve your career goals. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated  careers and employability team who offer tailored advice and a programme of College-specific careers events.

You will be encouraged to make the most of your postgraduate experience and will have the opportunity to:

  • Receive one-to-one careers advice, including guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique, whether you are looking for a career inside or outside of academia
  • Meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs and employer presentations
  • Attend an annual programme of careers fairs, skills workshops and conferences, including bespoke events for postgraduates in the College of Arts and Law
  • Take part in a range of activities to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers and enhance your CV

What’s more, you will be able to access our full range of careers support for up to 2 years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: African Studies

African Studies graduates develop a range of skills including oral and written communication; analysis and evaluation; problem solving; independent working; and research skills, which can be used in a variety of occupations. Our graduates pursue a variety of career paths, including lecturing and paid research. Over the past 5 years, 91% of African Studies postgraduates were in work and/or further study within 6 months of graduating (DLHE 2012 - 2017).

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