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L6K607 Sustainability, Culture and Development MSc Postgraduate Taught  2017


Degree MSc
Mode of study Part Time + Full Time
Duration 1 year (full-time) 2 years (part-time)
Start Date 06-10-2017
Location Durham City
Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 1612

Course Summary


This course provides students with the skills to apply anthropological theory and methods to the study of development. The programme is taught by an active, interdisciplinary team involved in world-class research on development issues with a focus on achieving environmental and social sustainability through participatory approaches and active collaborations with projects for empowerment in the Global South. Geographical areas of expertise include Sub-Saharan Africa, South America, South Asia, South-East Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Melanesia. 

The MSc is based around core modules focusing on sustainability, culture and development. Options allow you to pursue special interests. The dissertation offers the opportunity to conduct independent research under the supervision of an expert in your chosen topic.

Compulsory modules

  • Dissertation
  • Fieldwork and Interpretation
  • Society, Energy, Environment and Resilience
  • Thinking Anthropologically
  • Anthropology and Development.

Students will then choose 60 credits from a selection of the following.

Previous optional modules have included:

  • Academic and Professional Skills in Anthropology
  • Art in Ecological Perspective
  • Computational Methods for Social Sciences
  • Context and Challenges in Energy and Society
  • Key Issues in Sociocultural Theory
  • Public Health Anthropology
  • Religion, Contention and Public Controversy
  • Anthropology of Global Health
  • Body, Politics and Experience
  • Energy Society and Energy Practices
  • Interrogating Ethnography
  • Statistical Analysis in Anthropology
  • Foreign language option.

Please see for further information on modules.

Course Detail

To find out more about the modules available to students studying at Durham University please click here.

Please note: Current modules are indicative. Information for future academic years may change, for example, due to developments in the relevant academic field, or in light of student feedback.

Course Learning and Teaching

The MSc in Sustainability, Culture and Development (full-time) consists of two terms of teaching, during which students are introduced to the range of research questions and methods, and a dissertation, involving the design, development and implementation of an independent research project. Students work closely with academic staff, and have the opportunity to become involved in active research networks and projects.

The programme is delivered through a mixture of interactive lectures, seminars, student-led seminars, film showings and discussion, workshops, and optional fieldtrips, in addition to one-to-one dissertation supervision. Typically, lecture formats deliver key concepts and case study comparisons on progressively more advanced themes and topics. Research seminars provide an opportunity to reflect in more depth upon material delivered in modules and gathered from independent study outside the programme’s formal contact hours. Student-led seminars give students an opportunity to engage with academic issues at the cutting-edge of research in Anthropology, in a learning environment focused on discussion and debate of current issues.

As a Level 4 course we place an emphasis on independent learning. This is supported by the University’s virtual learning environment, extensive library collections and informal contact with tutors and research staff. We consider the development of independent learning and research skills to be one of the key elements of our postgraduate taught curriculum and one which helps our students cultivate initiative, originality and critical thinking.

Full-time students take required taught modules worth a total of 60 credits (av 1.5 hours per week per module), and two or more optional modules, also totalling 60 credits (average 2.3 hours per week). Thus, they have on average 6.1 hours of formal contact per week (a mixture of interactive lectures, seminars, student-led seminars, practical sessions and workshops). Outside timetabled contact hours, students are also expected to devote significant amounts of time to reading, discussing and preparing for classes, assignments and project work. From week 10, students begin formal supervision for their 60 credit dissertation. This crucial piece of work is a significant piece of independent research that constitutes a synthesis of theory, method and practice in anthropology and is supported by an individual supervisor (10 hours, representing approximately monthly meetings December-September), the degree director (as necessary), and other relevant members of staff (e.g. regional specialists).

Throughout the programme, all students have access to the degree director and deputy director who provide them with academic support and guidance. Furthermore, all members of teaching staff have weekly office hours when they are available to meet with students on a ‘drop-in’ basis. In term time, the department also has an extensive programme of departmental and research group seminars which postgraduate students are encouraged and expected to attend. We ensure that we advertise any other relevant seminars and lectures in Durham, Newcastle and further afield, and encourage students to attend relevant conferences, such as the RAI and ASA.

Before the academic year starts, we make contact with incoming students via the postgraduate office. On arrival we have induction sessions and social events, headed by the Director of Postgraduate Studies and attended by both academic and administrative staff. Students also attend an 'Introduction to Research Groups in Anthropology', as well as a specific introduction to the Anthropology in Development Research Group. This allows students to identify key staff.

Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

A minimum 2:1 Honours degree from a UK institution (or the overseas equivalent) in a relevant subject. Please email us on for advice on relevant topics.

References play an important part in the admissions process.

English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.

How to apply

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

EU Student £7,400.00 per year
Home Student £7,400.00 per year
Island Student £7,400.00 per year
International non-EU Student £16,500.00 per year

Part Time Fees

EU Student £4,100.00 per year
Home Student £4,100.00 per year
Island Student £4,100.00 per year
International non-EU Student £9,100.00 per year

Note: Fees are subject to review and change in-line with inflation.

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding

Career Opportunities

Department of Anthropology

Students with a postgraduate qualification in Anthropology pursue a diverse array of careers in areas such as conservation, tourism, public health, health research and management, captive primate care and zoological research management, local government research and management, education (secondary, further and higher), social care, social research, in addition to academia.

For further information on career options and employability, including the results of the Destination of Leavers survey, student and employer testimonials and details of work experience and study abroad opportunities, please visit our employability web pages.

Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Overseas Visit Schedule

Postgraduate Visits


Department Information

Department of Anthropology


Founded in 1965, the Department of Anthropology at Durham University is now one of the largest integrated anthropology departments in the UK, carrying out cutting-edge research across social anthropology, evolutionary anthropology, and the anthropology of health. Our taught Masters programmes offer you the opportunity to pursue advanced specialist courses and ‘conversion’ from other degrees, while our PhD students study topics from primate behaviour to rhetoric culture and indigenous knowledge to internet technologies. With our first-class facilities, innovative programmes, and world-leading academics, Durham University is setting the agenda for twenty-first century anthropology.


Ranked joint 1st in the UK for Internationally Excellent and World-Leading research impact and research environment in REF 2014.


For a current list of staff, please see the Anthropology Department web pages.