MA Visual Anthropology

Year of entry: 2020


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.

Applicants must also submit with their application, the following:

  • personal statement;
  • two academic references; and
  • transcript of marks.

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 - 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 tour the campus and find out more about our facilities and courses.

On this day, you will find out more about the School of Social Sciences and 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 2020, the tuition fees are as follows:

  • MA (full-time)
    UK/EU students (per annum): £10,500
    International students (per annum): £20,000

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).


For details of funding opportunities, visit our website .

The Manchester Alumni Scholarship Scheme offers a £3,000 reduction in tuition fees to University of Manchester alumni who achieved a first-class Bachelor's degree and are progressing to a postgraduate taught master's course.

For more information, see fees and funding or search the University's postgraduate funding database .

Contact details

School of Social Sciences
Contact name
Janet Smith
+44(0) 161 275 4471

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.

Applicants must also submit with their application, the following:

  • personal statement;
  • two academic references; and
  • transcript of marks.

English language

  • IELTS of 7 overall, 7 in writing with no score below 6.5 in any component
  • TOEFL (IBT) 103 overall with 28 in writing and no score below 25 in each section
  • TOEFL code for Manchester is 0757 
  • Pearson - overall 73 with 73 in writing and no further score below 66

If you have other English language qualifications and want to enquire about whether you meet our requirements, contact

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.

Application and selection

How to apply

Advice to applicants

Due to high demand for this course, we operate a staged admissions process with selection deadlines throughout the year, as follows:

  • 1 November (decision by 8 December, accept offer by 15 January) 
  • 7 January (decision by 14 February, accept offer by 16 March);
  • 2 March (decision by 8 April, accept offer by 8 May);
  • 4 May (decision by 1 June, accept offer by 1 July).

If we make you an offer, you will have approximately 4 weeks to accept (conditional and un-conditional offers). Any offers not accepted by the deadline will be withdrawn so that an offer can be made to another candidate.

All conditional offer holders will have until 1 August to satisfy the conditions of their offer.

Due to competition for places, we give preference to students with grades above our minimum entry requirements. 

You need to ensure that you submit your supporting documents with your online application as it may delay us processing your application.

Whilst we aim to give you a decision on your application by the decision date, in some instances due to the competition for places/volume of applications received, it may be necessary to roll your application forward to the next deadline date. If this is the case we will let you know after the deadline date.

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

We can accept your application before you complete your undergraduate studies; please submit your latest transcripts with your online application. 

Please note: 

  • all places are subject to availability and if you apply for one of the later dates, some courses may already be closed, we recommend that you apply early in the cycle to secure your place with us;
  • meeting the minimum entry requirements does not guarantee an offer;
  • if you are a current undergraduate student at the University of Manchester, you may be eligible to apply via the 'Fast-Track' scheme, email for further information;
  • for a copy of the postgraduate prospectus, email

How your application is considered

Applications are initially assessed by the Admissions Team and referred to the Admissions Tutor when required.

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 is staggered over a 6 week period, from late-August to the beginning of October. If you need to complete the course within a 12-month period, you can apply beforehand therefore, 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 so as to develop team-working and presentational skills as well as, technical and artistic expertise. 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

SOAN70121 Ethnographic Documentary (30 credits):

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

SOAN70591  Anthropology of Vision, Memory and the Senses (15 credits)

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

SOAN70771 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.

Or, Key Approaches to Anthropology (for those without anthropological background)

Second semester

SOAN70142 Beyond Observational Cinema (30 credits/15 credits)

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

SOAN60992 Documentary and Sensory Media  (30 credits /15 credits)

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

SOAN70452 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.

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.