PhD Social Anthropology with Visual Media

Year of entry: 2022

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Degree awarded
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Up to 4 years (full-time); 7 years (part-time)
Entry requirements
  • A First or Upper Second Class Bachelor's degree (or its international equivalent) in a cognate subject.
  • A Master's anthropology degree, with a minimum average grade of 65% in taught course units and your dissertation, and no mark below 55% (or international equivalent). 

Full entry requirements

How to apply
Apply online

Programme options

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

Programme overview

  • Combine the study of social anthropology and visual and audio media in your doctoral training.
  • Join a lively PhD community working in all the world's continents and a variety of topics.
  • Gain guidance and support from two expert supervisors.

Open days

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

On this day, you will learn more about the School, our Social Anthropology department, and our resources.

You'll also be able to meet academic and admissions staff who will be able to answer any questions you have.

For more information and to book your place, see  open days .


For entry in the academic year beginning September 2022, the tuition fees are as follows:

  • PhD (full-time)
    UK students (per annum): £4,596
    International, including EU, students (per annum): £20,500
  • PhD (part-time)
    UK students (per annum): TBA
    International, including EU, students (per annum): £10,250

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


We receive money from a range of sources to help you fund your research and have a variety of awards on offer, covering tuition fees and a generous stipend, including school and departmental studentships and the President's Doctoral Scholar award .

Application deadlines for internal funding opportunities are often at the beginning of December for programmes starting the following September. Please ensure you check the School site for up-to-date information.

If you're planning to apply for a scholarship or award that is not attached to a particular project, you'll normally need to hold an offer of a place from the University before applying.

Search for current funding opportunities by country and research programme using our funding database search tool .

Please note that you are required to contact your referees (the School does not contact referees directly).

References may be uploaded with your other supporting documents during the application process or emailed directly to

Contact details

School of Social Sciences
Contact name
School of Social Sciences

Programmes in related subject areas

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

Entry requirements

Academic entry qualification overview

  • A First or Upper Second Class Bachelor's degree (or its international equivalent) in a cognate subject.
  • A Master's anthropology degree, with a minimum average grade of 65% in taught course units and your dissertation, and no mark below 55% (or international equivalent). 

English language

Candidates whose first language is not English require one of the following certificates:
  • IELTS test minimum scores - 7 overall, 7 writing, 6.5 other sections;
  • TOEFL (internet based) test minimum scores - 103 overall, 28 writing, 25 other sections.
  • Other tests are considered - please contact us for advice.

Any non-native English students going away for fieldwork overseas may need to re-take the in-sessional diagnostic English test when returning to Manchester.

If you are eligible to do a pre-sessional English course (either 6 weeks or 10 weeks), you will need to successfully complete the course at the required level before registering on your academic programme.

For students who require a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK, please see our specialist advice pages.

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

If you are unsure about the feasibility of your application, you can email the Postgraduate Admissions Tutor, Prof. Maia Green, with:  
  • a draft research proposal, see guidelines ;
  • a summary of the proposal (max 150 words);
  • a CV including marks for previous degrees, ongoing studies, and any anthropological research experience.

Preliminary queries should be sent long in advance of any formal application.

Admission to studying for a PhD is highly competitive, so please allow as much time as possible to prepare your application, browse our research pages and academics' profiles, and familiarise yourself with the application process and any important deadlines.

Your supervisor is an important part of your PhD programme. It's a close relationship over many years, through which you develop your ideas, skills, thinking and research. Your supervisor's research interests should therefore closely align to yours.

If you aren't applying for a specific project, you'll need to find potential supervisors who will support your research. Details on recent publications, ongoing projects and particular research interests are all available on our academics' profiles.

Your potential supervisor should be able to give you advice on developing your research proposal as well as critical feedback to help make your proposal strong and competitive when it comes to applying for funding. 

If you'd like us to match you to a suitable supervisor, provide details of your research area or group within your application so we can identify suitable opportunities for you. Include any details in section six of your application form under `Proposed programme of study'.

Although guarantees cannot be made, we'll do our best to match your area of research to the most suitable supervisors within the field. 

For guidance on writing your research proposal, watch our recorded webinar .

How your application is considered

  • Applicants for the PhD will have:
  • expected a UK Master's degree (or overseas equivalent) in Social Anthropology, or a closely related field, with a minimum overall average grade of 65% in taught course units and your dissertation, with no mark below 55%;
  • some practical competence in the use of visual media is desired but not essential;
  • Evidence of a prior interest and/or potential ability in the practical use of visual and/or acoustic media, for example, submitting a limited hard-copy sample of your practical work (i.e. a collection of photographs or a DVD), or referring to prior practical work or interests in a personal statement of 500 words.

Applicants should note, however, that the University will not be able to return any practical work materials submitted by applicants.

Supporting documents to be submitted with your on-line application;

  • PhD research proposal
  • Two academic references (including one from your most recent institution)
  • Degree transcripts - listing your individual marks for your undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications
  • An up to date CV

Interview requirements

As part of the offer making process applicants will be required to undertake an interview assessment. This may be in the form of a face-to-face interview, Skype or telephone. 


If you applied in the previous year and your application was not successful you may apply again. Your application will be considered against the standard course entry criteria for that year of entry. In your new application you should demonstrate how your application has improved. We may draw upon all information from your previous applications or any previous registrations at the University as a student when assessing your suitability for your chosen course.

Programme details

Programme description


The three/four year full-time (or part-time equivalent) PhD in Social Anthropology and Visual Media programme is intended for those who wish to incorporate the use of visual and/or audio media whilst pursuing doctoral research.

Substantial original research, including ethnographic fieldwork of 12-18 months, will lead to the production of a thesis. You are required to produce visual and/or audio media as a necessary and integral feature of your thesis, there is an expectation that the textual component should be no more than 60,000 words or a 25% reduction on the normal maximum length for the PhD in Social Anthropology.

Throughout, you will work closely with an expert supervisor, with further guidance from at least one extra supervisor.

The structure depends on prior qualification:

  • You will, during the first year, take a set of research training courses. After about 10 months (or 20 in part-time study) produce a 12,000-15,000 word research proposal. This proposal is examined in an oral viva.
  • After fieldwork, you will return to the University and start writing your dissertation and editing your audio-visual material under the guidance of your supervisors.
  • If you have successfully completed our MA Anthropological Research course (or an equivalent ESRC-recognised course in another UK institution), you may be in a position to start fieldwork as soon as is practicable, provided that you have submitted a satisfactory research proposal as part of your previous degree and it has been approved by the School of Social Sciences.

Social anthropology at Manchester has a lively PhD community working in all of the world's continents and on a variety of topics. This programme is delivered in conjunction with the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology .

Teaching and learning

During Year 1 on this PhD programme, if you have not taken the MA Anthropological Research, you will normally take a number of research training course units. Two core units are Issues in Ethnographic Research 1 and 2, geared towards research design and planning of your field study.

In addition, the Postgraduate Seminar provides a forum for presentation, discussion and reflection amongst peers. A series of optional courses offer skills in additional methods, such as:

  • quantitative approaches;
  • archival research;
  • working with memory;
  • conducting elite interviews.

There is also the Fieldwork and Film work seminar, open to all postgraduates, at which post-fieldwork students screen 'works-in-progress', in order to receive feedback from fellow students and staff.

Under the individualised guidance of your supervisors, you will read extensively around your research topic and relevant theoretical literature. To deepen your knowledge, you may also take particular units in social anthropology.

The objective of units and supervision during the first year is to produce a 12,000-15,000 word research proposal, which is examined in an oral viva. Successful completion of this, and of coursework at satisfactory level, is a condition to proceed to field research. After fieldwork, normally 12-18 months, depending on concrete case, you will return to the University and start writing your dissertation and editing audio-visual material. During this time, you will continue to work with supervisors and present your written work to the Postgraduate Seminar.

You will join a diverse and vibrant community of doctoral students from nearly 100 different countries, all studying within the Faculty of Humanities.

You'll be assigned to a specific research grouping that complements your research interests and have access to a variety of interdisciplinary research institutes.

Our working environments are spacious and open-plan, giving you plenty of opportunities to communicate with colleagues and staff within the School, you will have your own desk space as well as access to our fantastic range of libraries on campus.

All of our academic supervisors are research active and support you to work on challenging research problems and develop rigorous, creative and original research. You can expect to meet your supervisor at least once a month to discuss progress on your project.

You have access to a large and diverse community of internationally recognised academic experts offering an environment that will stimulate intellectual debate and development.

We provide additional financial support for activities related to your PhD, including:

  • presenting at international conferences;
  • attending workshops that provide relevant professional opportunities;
  • conducting fieldwork in the UK and overseas.

Graduate Teaching Assistants

You can also get hands-on, paid teaching experience as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. They are valued members of the teaching team. As such, we take pride in the opportunities provided for your professional development.

Our training includes preparation for application to the Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy . This brings a range of benefits:

  • consolidates your personal development and emphasises your professional practice in HE
  • entitlement to use post-nominal letters - AFHEA;
  • provides a valuable measure of success and is increasingly sought by employers across the education sector as a condition of appointment and promotion;
  • recognised and valued by a growing number of international institutions.

Programme unit list

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

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Issues in Ethnographic Research I SOAN70641 15 Mandatory
Issues in Ethnographic Research II SOAN70652 15 Mandatory
PG Research Seminar SOAN70940 15 Mandatory

Scholarships and bursaries

We receive money from a range of sources to help you fund your research and have a variety of awards on offer, covering tuition fees and a generous stipend.

Within the University we offer a large number of school and departmental studentships as well as the  President's Doctoral Scholar award . Many of our research students also receive funding from externally from places such as research councils, foundations and international government funding bodies.

Application deadlines for internal funding opportunities are often early in the year for programmes starting the following September, and many external funders have earlier application deadlines. If you're planning to apply for a scholarship or award that is not attached to a particular project, you'll normally need to hold an offer of a place from the University before applying.

Search for current funding opportunities by country and research programme using our  funding database search tool .

The UK government may offer  doctoral loans  for those studying PhDs and equivalent doctoral programmes including professional doctorates.

UK nationals who are ordinarily resident in England, aged 59 or under, who are not already receiving funding via a UK Research Council, are eligible to apply.

What our students say

See the profiles of our current cohort of PhD students in Social Anthropology.


The department of Social Anthropology, and the School of Social Sciences, is based in a brand new purpose-built building which allows 24/7 access. There is shared workspace available for research students, including networked computers and printing facilities.

There are also many work areas elsewhere in the building and in the University including The University of Manchester Library, which has an excellent collection of social anthropology books and journals, many of which can also be accessed online.

Disability support

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


Career opportunities

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 support you with your goals for the future .

Many graduates have gone on to academic posts involving an audio-visual dimension. Whilst a number of these have been in the UK, others have been further afield, in countries as diverse as China, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Estonia and Norway. Visit our careers and employability page for a list of career destinations of our recent PhD graduates. 

The bonds established between students as a consequence of the collaborative teaching methods on this programme, usually carry over into post-graduation life. Due to the international nature of the student body, these links reach all over the world.

The programme offers access to training in visual and audio methods and ethnographic documentary film-making, a genre that has a direct relevance to a university career in social or cultural anthropology, it also equips you in a broad range of transferable skills that are applicable to a variety of careers, including:

  • the development of team-working and presentation skills;
  • interpersonal skills required to carry out ethnographic fieldwork;
  • an awareness of the legal and ethical issues raised by this research activity.

You will have access to a dedicated Researcher Development Team who will support your professional development throughout your PhD journey and beyond.

Our researcher development programme will enable you to become more aware of your developing researcher identity, equipping you with the skills you need during your PhD and prepare you to integrate into the researcher community. 

We offer training sessions to build your skills and confidence in writing and presenting, with specific sessions on viva preparation, thesis submission and preparing for your Review Panel. 

You'll also have access to a range of workshops, covering areas such as:

  • increasing research impact through blog posts;
  • making the most of social media; 
  • publishing in journals;
  • applying for fellowships;
  • designing academic posters;
  • improving time and self-management.

In addition, our Humanities training hub ProGRess@humanities gives you additional training opportunities in public engagement, wellbeing, language training and teaching, alongside more specialist courses in tools and software such as Python, R and NVivo. 

methods@manchester , meanwhile, is an initiative that gives you the chance to learn from the very best in research methods expertise at Manchester and beyond. Regular talks, workshops and other methods-related events are organised throughout the academic year. 

Finally, taking a placement provides a great opportunity to engage in knowledge exchange and to develop professional networking opportunities for your future career development.

We have established programmes with a small number of institutions around the world, offering you the opportunity to visit another institution, access research resources and experience another academic culture as well as build professional networks. Successful applicants will receive some funding towards travel expenses, accommodation, subsistence, education materials and/or other education-related costs. 

For more information, see training and development .