MA Visual Anthropology

Year of entry: 2024


Degree awarded
Master of Arts (MA)
1 year full-time
Entry requirements

A UK Honours degree (or overseas equivalent) at 2:1 level in anthropology, sociology, or related social science or humanities subject.

When assessing your academic record we take into account your grades, your academic references, and the standing of the institution where you studied.

We also welcome:  

Applicants with an academic or professional background in media production, such as in film-making, photography and sound-art as well as those coming from an art-making background.

Applicants with professional experience in journalism, social and development work.

Full entry requirements

How to apply
Apply online

Course options

Full-time Part-time Full-time distance learning Part-time distance learning

Course overview

  • Study at the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology which is widely recognised as the world's leading centre for visual anthropology and sensory media. 
  • Benefit from a course that combines anthropology with practical training in film-making, editing, visual methods, photography, sensory ethnography and sound. 
  • Develop your learning with access to professional equipment and support by internally renowned staff comprising the largest visual anthropology faculty in Europe.

Open days

The University holds regular open days, where you will have the opportunity to find out more about our facilities and courses.

On this day, you will learn more about the School, our resources, and meet academic and admissions staff who will be able to answer any questions you have.

For more information, see open days and visits .


For entry in the academic year beginning September 2024, the tuition fees are as follows:

  • MA (full-time)
    UK students (per annum): £17,000
    International, including EU, students (per annum): £29,000

Further information for EU students can be found on our dedicated EU page.

Policy on additional costs

All students should normally be able to complete their programme of study without incurring additional study costs over and above the tuition fee for that programme. Any unavoidable additional compulsory costs totalling more than 1% of the annual home undergraduate fee per annum, regardless of whether the programme in question is undergraduate or postgraduate taught, will be made clear to you at the point of application. Further information can be found in the University's Policy on additional costs incurred by students on undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes (PDF document, 91KB).


We offer a number of postgraduate taught scholarships and awards to outstanding applicants, such as the Manchester Humanities International Excellence Scholarship .

The Manchester Alumni Scholarship Scheme offers a £3,000 fee reduction to Manchester alumni who achieved a first-class bachelor's degree within the last three years and are progressing to postgraduate study. 

For more information, see our  Fees and funding page.

Contact details

School of Social Sciences
Contact name
School of Social Sciences Admissions Office
+44 (0)161 804 9198

Courses in related subject areas

Use the links below to view lists of courses in related subject areas.

Entry requirements

Academic entry qualification overview

A UK Honours degree (or overseas equivalent) at 2:1 level in anthropology, sociology, or related social science or humanities subject.

When assessing your academic record we take into account your grades, your academic references, and the standing of the institution where you studied.

We also welcome:  

Applicants with an academic or professional background in media production, such as in film-making, photography and sound-art as well as those coming from an art-making background.

Applicants with professional experience in journalism, social and development work.

English language

Applicants whose first language is not English should meet the following language requirements:

  • IELTS Academic test score of 7 overall, including 7 in writing with no further component score below 6.5
  • TOEFL IBT 100 with 25 in writing and no further score below 22 in each section. TOEFL code for Manchester is 0757
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) score of 76 overall, with 76 in writing and no further score below 70

You are not required to submit an English language certificate at the time of application, however if you are eligible for an offer it will be subject to meeting our English language requirements.

Pre-Sessional English Courses

We will consider applicants who do not meet these scores but you will be required to complete a pre-sessional English language course at the University of Manchester prior to the start of the course.

To be considered for a pre-sessional English language course for this programme we require the following minimum IELTS (Academic) scores:

6 Week Pre-Sessional Course : IELTS 6.5 overall with 6.5 in writing and no more than one sub-skill of 6.0.

10 Week Pre-sessional Course : IELTS 6.0 overall with 6.0 or above in each sub-skill 

If you have not yet completed your current academic study and are interested in studying a pre-sessional course, you must hold an IELTS for UKVI (Academic) test certificate to ensure that you are eligible for a separate visa for the English language course.

English language test validity

Some English Language test results are only valid for two years. Your English Language test report must be valid on the start date of the course.

Applicants from Majority English-speaking countries

If you are a national of a   majority English-speaking country   (or have studied for a full bachelor's degree or higher from one of these countries) you may be exempt from submitting further evidence of English language proficiency.

Other international entry requirements

We accept a range of qualifications from across the globe. To help international students, the university provides specific information for many individual countries. Please see our  country-specific information page   for guidance on the academic and English language qualifications which may be accepted from your country.

Application and selection

How to apply

Advice to applicants

As there is a high demand for our courses, we operate a staged admissions process with selection deadlines throughout the year. Due to the competition for places and high quality of applications that we receive, we give preference to students from high ranking institutions and with grades above our minimum entry requirements. We also take into consideration professional skills and experiences in relevant fields and competency and achievements in media production and/or art making.

Please ensure you submit all supporting documentation with your application before the application deadline to avoid a delay in processing.

Applications for 2024 entry:

Stage 1:   Application received by  8th December 2023 ; Application update by  22nd February 2024

Stage 2:   Application received by  3rd March 2024 ; Application update by  25th April 2024

Stage 3:   Application received by  5th May 2024 ; Application update by  8th June 2024

Stage 4:  Application received by  1st July 2024 ; Application update by  25th July 2024

Whilst we aim to give you a decision on your application by the deadline date, in some instances due to the competition for places and the volume of applications received, it may be necessary to roll your application forward to the next deadline date.

Applications received after our final selection deadline will be considered at our discretion if places are still available.

Please note:  All places are subject to availability and if you apply at one of the later stages, some courses may already be reaching capacity or be closed to further applications. We, therefore, recommend that you apply early in the cycle to avoid disappointment.

Tuition fee deposits

If you are successful in receiving an offer, you will be required to pay a tuition fee deposit of £1,000 by the deadline stated in your offer letter to confirm your place. We ask for the deposit as competition for places is high and there is limited availability.  The deposit amount is then deducted from your tuition fees when you register on the course.

If you are unable to pay a deposit before the deadline for accepting the offer then you can decide to enter a ranked `wait-list'. This list will allow you to find time to pay for the deposit, although, depending on the competition for places it doesn't guarantee your offer can be reinstated for the year of application.

Course details

Course description

The MA in Visual Anthropology course is tailored to meet the needs of different levels of anthropological and film-making experience, whether you have little or no background in formal anthropology, film-production, visual methods and photography, or if you have substantial experience in one or more of these areas.

For nearly 30 years, the University's Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology has been widely recognised as the world's leading centre for visual anthropology. Our graduates have produced more than 400 ethnographic films seen around the world and it is now at the forefront of the emergent dialogue between art and anthropology, including sensory ethnography and sound, experimental and practice-based methods, photographic and digital media, museum and gallery installations.

Our MA and MPhil courses combine anthropology with training in film-making and editing, visual methods, photography sensory ethnography and sound. You are provided with professional equipment and supported by internationally renowned staff comprising the largest visual anthropology faculty in Europe.

The Granada Centre's teaching and research continues to set the standard of excellence in the social sciences as well as arts. This was formally recognised by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council), and by the AHRC, awarding the master's course the status of a professional preparation masters, something awarded to no other visual anthropology course in the UK.

Special features

As a course that teaches anthropology and practice-based film and media skills, you should be aware that the MA Visual Anthropology course is highly intensive and runs over 13 months rather than the standard 12 months.  

It extends beyond the conventional 12 months because of the additional time required for completing the audio-visual work. Editing the final film and media work takes place in September and final dissertation submission date is at the beginning of October. If you need to complete the course within a 12-month period, you can apply beforehand, so that appropriate arrangements can be put in place.  

Graduation Exhibition and Film Screenings are held mid-October and are organised by the students themselves. These are not a compulsory part of the course, but they have become a traditional rite of passage and opportunity to show work to the public, friends and family.  

Manchester is a creative, dynamic and cosmopolitan city noted for its music scene, media links and industrial past. Studying in Manchester means that you get to access all that a major city offers, yet the cost of living and accommodation are affordable. It is consistently shown to be one of the cheapest places in the UK for students to live.

Teaching and learning

The course combines conventional lectures and seminars with practical 'hands-on' instruction and workshops. Students work in teams and individually.

Your final piece of work is an individual production, however, throughout the year you will spend time working in teams in order to develop team-working and presentational skills. Work is presented to the class and receives feedback from fellow students as well as instructors.

In this way, you learn to analyse your own and others works and through each other's successes and failures, generating a strong range of intellectual, practical and aesthetic resources as well as a sense of camaraderie and cooperation.

Coursework and assessment

During both semesters, you take:

  • 1 x 30-credit unit; or
  • 2 x 15 credit practical film or media courses; and
  • 2 x 15-credit lecture or seminar-based units on more theoretical, methodological or substantive ethnographic topics;
  • the latter are each assessed by means of a 4000-word essay;

The practical units are assessed by various combinations of a portfolio of project work and an accompanying written text.

Course content for year 1

First semester    

Ethnographic Documentary (30 credits)

Practical film-making, directing, camera work and editing: working in teams all students make 3 short films (1) a social or technical process film, (2) a testimony film, and (3) an event film. Compulsory Course.  

Screening Culture (15 credits)    

Weekly lectures and film screenings on the place of film in anthropology and the theory and history of ethnographic film and film-making. Core Course.  

Anthropology of Vision, Memory and the Senses (15 credits)   

Weekly lectures, screenings and workshops, on the anthropology of the senses and memory. Core Course.  

Or, Key Approaches to Anthropology (15 credits)    

A foundation module on Social Anthropology for those without anthropological background.   

Second semester   

Beyond Observational Cinema (30 credits)    

Further film training delivered through lectures and practical workshops. Compulsory Course.  

Documentary and Sensory Media  (15 credits)    

Practice as Research, delivered through lectures, practical workshops and field trips. Compulsory Course.   

Images, Texts, Fieldwork (15 Credits)

Practical research course in urban anthropology that explores traditional and experiential approaches and methods to anthropological research. Compulsory Course.

Course unit details

Semester one involves:
  • intensive practical training in film-making and ethnographic documentary;
  • courses on visual and sensory perception;
  • theories and history of anthropological and ethnographic films; and
  • the anthropology of sound;
  • students with little or no anthropological background will also take introductory courses in anthropology where necessary.

In semester two, you will engage in:

  • alternative modes of ethnographic film-making;
  • courses and workshops in photography, sensory ethnography and sound recording and other art based and experimental forms;
  • anthropological and ethnographic methods in preparation of students' summer research projects.

Throughout the year, screenings and additional workshops are conducted by visiting professionals, including film-makers, photographers and sound recordists.

Over the summer, you will engage in an original piece of ethnographic and anthropological research. The potential for research projects is wide-ranging, both in terms of location and theme, and in any one year may focus on diverse subjects, such as:

  • burlesque dancing in the UK;
  • education in China;
  • Balkan music;
  • Brazilian favelas;
  • Palestinian identity;
  • US summer camps;
  • gay cruising in Manchester;
  • life in Latin American prisons;
  • migration across the Sahara;
  • Congolese fashion; and
  • East African nomads.

We actively welcome Manchester based projects and recent projects include The Manchester Library, post-industrial ruins, and Manchester canals, female prisoners, green spaces and the Manchester music scene.

There are a number of formats in that students may make a 25-30 minute documentary or may choose to combine film with other forms of media and representation, such as photography, a gallery installation or sound and multimedia pieces. The high standard of the MA summer projects is attested to by the number of domestic and international prizes and awards they receive.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Elemental Media: Documentary and Sensory Practice SOAN60992 15 Mandatory
Ethnographic Documentary SOAN70121 30 Mandatory
Beyond Observational Cinema SOAN70142 30 Mandatory
Images, Text, Fieldwork SOAN70452 15 Mandatory
Anthropology of Vision, Senses and Memory SOAN70591 15 Mandatory
Screening Culture SOAN70771 15 Mandatory
Beyond Observational Cinema SOAN70142 30 Optional
Beyond Observational Cinema SOAN70143 15 Optional
Key Approaches in Social Anthropology SOAN70811 15 Optional

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email:


Career opportunities

The MA in Visual Anthropology provides you with the ability to combine the theoretical application of anthropology with practical training in film-making, editing, visual methods, photography, sensory ethnography and sound.

Our graduates have gone on to work in a wide range of professions including the media, film-making and journalism, education, social services, business and personnel management.

Some have gone on to work for the UN or have directed TV series such as Tribe, Horizon and BBC and C4 Documentaries.

The University has its own dedicated Careers Service that you would have full access to as a student and for two years after you graduate. At Manchester you will have access to a number of opportunities to help boost your employability .