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Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

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Course details

The MSc in Medical Anthropology offers a fascinating opportunity to study contemporary global health and wellbeing issues from an anthropological standpoint, considering social and cultural influences, the relationship with the environment and how change and development take place over time. This biosocial approach to the anthropology of health, supported by cutting-edge research in the Department, contributes to a stimulating and fast moving learning environment and draws students from a wide range of backgrounds.

The course provides a strong grounding in the ethnographic approach to the study of health, looking at the impact of culture and custom, as well as the development of health as a political issue and the application of anthropology to modern public health concerns.

Central to the MSc is the development of strong research skills, which you will be encouraged to put into practice, including the opportunity to present your work at the Department’s annual postgraduate conference.

Much of the teaching on the course is carried out by academic researchers from the Department’s highly regarded Anthropology of Health Research Group, which brings together the areas of biological and social anthropology, community medicine, evolutionary medicine, social epidemiology and public health at local, regional and international levels.

The course consists of core and optional modules and a dissertation, undertaken over one year on a full-time basis or over two years part time and features a mixture of interactive lectures, seminars, practical sessions and workshops.

As an anthropology student, you will have access to the Department’s highly respected research laboratories including the Durham Infancy and Sleep Centre, Behavioural and Ecological Physiology Lab, Physical Activity Lab, the South Africa field station and to material culture and skeletal collections.

Course structure

Core modules:

Anthropology of Global Health examines a range of theoretical perspectives and approaches within medical anthropology and shows you how they can be applied to contemporary issues in global health.

Society, Health and Wellbeing sets out the theories and approaches within the social sciences which are applicable to health and identifies the social and political factors relating to health and health inequalities. You will then use the information to examine a range of contemporary health issues, primarily in industrial and post-industrial societies.

The Dissertation gives you the opportunity to carry out your own independent research on a subject of particular interest, applying your learning from the research methods modules. You will be expected to write a literature review, collect data through fieldwork activity, laboratory work or from published sources, conduct data analysis and put together a presentation of your findings.

Plus one from:

  • Statistical Exploration and Reasoning
  • Fieldwork and Interpretation

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Advanced Studies in Anthropology, Art, and Experience
  • Advanced Studies in Mediterranean Connections
  • Advanced Studies in the Social Anthropology of Hormones
  • Advanced Studies in the Anthropology of Sport
  • Advanced Studies in Anthropological Skills for Climate Change Survival
  • Advanced Studies in Capitalism in Ruins
  • Advanced Studies in Power and Governance
  • Advanced Studies in Violence and Memory
  • Advanced Studies in the Anthropology of Tobacco
  • Advanced Studies in the Anthropology of Health Inequality
  • Advanced Studies in the Anthropology of Physical Activity for Health
  • Advanced Studies in Evolutionary Medicine: Maternal and Infant Health
  • Advanced Studies in Human Reproductive Ecology
  • Advanced Studies in Development, Conflict and Crisis in the Lower Omo Valley
  • Advanced Studies in the Evolution of Cooperation
  • Advanced Studies in Comparative Cognition and Culture
  • Advanced Studies in the Cultural Evolution of Music
  • Advanced Studies in Technological Primates
  • Advanced Studies in Primates in Peril
  • Advanced Studies in Primates, Predators and the Ecology of Fear
  • Advanced Studies in Homo narrans: evolutionary anthropology of fiction
  • Advanced Studies in Forensic Anthropology
  • Advanced Studies in Palaeoanthropology and Palaeoecology
  • Advanced Studies in the Anthropology of Data and Quantification
  • Advanced Studies in Anthropology of the Body
  • Advanced Studies in Food Security, Nutrition and Sustainable Livelihoods
  • Advanced Specialised Aspects in Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Advanced Specialised Aspects in Health and Medical Anthropology
  • Advanced Specialised Aspects in Social Anthropology
  • Understanding Society and Culture
  • Interrogating Ethnography
  • Anthropology and Development
  • Society, Energy, Environment and Resilience
  • Thinking Anthropologically
  • Climate and Energy - Intensive Study
  • A language module offered by the Centre for Foreign Language Studies


The full-time course runs from October to September, and you will attend classes between October and March with assessment in April and May. You will then complete your dissertation by September.

Learning takes place through a mixture of interactive lectures, seminars, practical sessions and workshops, in addition to one-to-one dissertation supervision. The lectures present you with information on current health topics and the seminars give you the opportunity for further discussion and debate in a stimulating and supportive academic environment.

As a full-time student, you will have on average 6-8 hours of formal teaching and learning contact each week and you will also be expected to join weekly departmental and Anthropology of Health Research Group research seminars.

Outside the timetabled contact hours, you will be expected to devote a significant amount of time to reading, discussing and preparing for classes, assignments and project work.


Assessment is thorough and ongoing throughout the course. Your course activities are assessed by a mixture of assignment and project work. You will also complete a dissertation, which is a significant piece of work on a subject of particular interest chosen by you with guidance and support from your tutor.

Entry requirements

A minimum 2:1 Honours degree from a UK institution (or the overseas equivalent) in a relevant subject.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £12,500 per year
EU students £26,500 per year
Island students £12,500 per year
International students £26,500 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £6,900 per year
EU students £14,600 per year
Island students £6,900 per year
International students £14,600 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities


Our anthropology postgraduates are well-placed to build on the research-led teaching the department offers. Many continue their academic careers by carrying out further research into the complex and diverse nature of humanity.

Durham courses develop a depth of practical skills and knowledge about understanding behaviour and society that are hugely applicable to the workplace environment and are highly sought after by employers in the UK and internationally.

Such attributes and qualities are easily transferable to a range of stimulating and rewarding professional careers. Our postgraduates have secured roles in development, health, government, policy, social research, culture, heritage, consultancy, education and media.

Recent postgraduates have moved into roles with employers that include Save the Children, HM Prison Service, Civil Service, Durham University, VSO, Office for National Statistics, National Graduate Development Programme (the local authority graduate scheme) and non-governmental organisations such as Concern Universal and Kenwa.

For further information on career options and employability, student and employer testimonials and details of work experience and study abroad opportunities, please visit our employability pages.

Department information


The Department of Anthropology is one of the largest among UK universities and one of only a handful covering Social Anthropology, Evolutionary Anthropology and Anthropology of Health.

This broad subject range is reflected in the flexibility of the Masters learning structure that makes it possible to choose advanced specialist courses to suit career or research aspirations. A research-led approach to teaching means that course content is as relevant and contemporary as it is informed by the latest developments in the subject area. 

Learning is delivered by subject specialists who are world experts in their particular field, be it energy use, sustainable development, the evolution of brain and cognition, aesthetics, primatology, global health and sleep. 

At Durham, the essential skills and knowledge in anthropology that we nurture are also developed through practical learning. We offer you the opportunity to join an active research group and, supported by expert staff, undertake world-class research that will ultimately prepare you for your future career.

We are proud to say that we produce some of the most innovative research taking place in contemporary anthropology. We are equally proud of the inclusive and supportive community that you will join in the Department, offering a stimulating and rewarding environment in which to work.


  • Top 30 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • Top 10 in The Complete University Guide 2024 and The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024
  • 6th in The Guardian University Guide 2024


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

Research Excellence Framework

  • 45% of our research was rated as world-leading (REF 2021)


In keeping with our vision to offer research-led teaching, the Department provides a wide range of state-of-the-art facilities to support postgraduate research projects and programmes.

These include the Behavioural and Ecological Physiology Laboratory, the Physical Activity Laboratory and the South Africa Field Station as well as the award-winning Durham Infancy and Sleep Centre Laboratory.

We are the location for one of the country’s best collections for palaeoanthropological and morphometric research in biological anthropology and have a material culture collection of over 2,000 objects from around the world.

The Department of Anthropology is housed in the Dawson Building, which is conveniently located next to the main library, and close to lots of other departments and university services.

More information on our facilities and equipment.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more

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