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Course summary

The information provided on this page was correct at the time of publication (October/November 2022). For complete and up-to-date information about this course, please visit the relevant University of Oxford course page via The two-year MPhil course offers a coordinated training in both biological and social anthropological approaches to health and illness, with special emphasis on methods. It provides the necessary basis for future anthropological research and an excellent cross-cultural grounding for those aiming to pursue a career in clinical medicine, international health or other health-related fields. The MPhil is similar in topical scope and breadth to the MSc, but it allows for a deeper engagement with the theory and practice of anthropological research. It is intended both as a standalone degree and as a broader and deeper preparation for doctoral research than is possible with the MSc. During the first year of the MPhil you would follow the same course of instruction as MSc students through to the June examinations. In the first year there is one option paper and three core papers, as follows: Paper 1: Critical Medical Anthropology Paper 2: Biocultural Approaches to Medicine Paper 3: Anthropologies of the Body At the end of the first year, you then use the summer vacation to acquire a firm grounding in medical anthropological literature and develop your dissertation outline based on this background reading. Fieldwork is not a necessary component of the MPhil degree, although you can undertake it over the vacation or early in the second year. Study towards the MPhil degree in the second year consists of class-based course work, participation in seminars and individual research, written up in a dissertation. Coursework in the second year has three components: critical reading classes in Michaelmas term and participation in two different methods classes in Michaelmas term and/or Hilary term. The range of methods classes varies yearly and includes (but is not limited to):

  • Ethnographic Fieldwork Methods
  • Ethnographic Portraiture
  • Practical Quantitative Methods
  • Critical Methods of Numerical Analysis
  • Language-Focused Methods
  • Ethnobiology Fieldwork Methods.
There is one core seminar series in medical anthropology; the student led Medical Anthropology Research Seminars. In addition to those, there is a rich seminar culture of the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology (ISCA) and the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME), and students are expected to actively participate in those. The research component is comprised of a 30,000-word dissertation. MPhil students receive throughout the second year individual tuition from their supervisor on their dissertation writing. The School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography takes the view that full-time degrees require full-time study (ie equivalent to typical employment, around 40 hours per week, throughout the year). MPhil students in their first year should expect to spend six to eight hours per week in term time in formal teaching contexts (lectures, seminar groups, tutorials, classes), which can be supplemented with attendance of the many research and visiting speaker seminars on offer; the remainder of their time (ie around 30 hours per week) should be spent on independent study and preparation of submitted work. In their second year, MPhil students focus principally on research and writing for their 30,000-word thesis so the emphasis is on independent study, but they will still be expected to spend three to four hours per week in term time in formal teaching contexts, including a writing-up seminar and field research training, as well as regular meetings with their thesis supervisor, again supplemented by attendance of research seminars and lectures as they choose.

Entry requirements

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Fees and funding

Tuition fees

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Additional fee information

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Medical Anthropology at University of Oxford - UCAS