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Anthropology PhD

PhD topics

Find a supervisor

Start date

January

October

April

Mode of study

3 years full-time

6 years part-time

Fees

2020/21

UK / EU £4,407

International £15,860

Entry requirements

2:1

MPhil option available
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Research profile

Brunel Anthropology is a team of internationally recognised researchers, producing ground-breaking work rooted in ethnographic fieldwork spanning Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania. Academic staff, post-doctoral researchers and PhD students alike work within a single Social Anthropology research grouping, designed both to capitalise on our historic strengths—in the anthropologies of global health; childhood and youth; histories and concepts of anthropological knowledge; and performance, politics and violence—as well as enabling a proactive embrace of new global challenges. The latter includes exciting new work that engages with international environmental crises, human-animal relations, and contemporary imaginings of the future.

Find out about the exciting research we do in this area. Browse profiles of our experts, discover the research groups and their inspirational research activities you too could be part of. We’ve also made available extensive reading materials published by our academics and PhD students.  

Learn more about research in this area.

Diversity and openness

PhD students come to Brunel from diverse cultural backgrounds and belong to a genuinely international anthropology department. (The Times Higher Educational Supplement recently described Brunel as “the most international university”.) Brunel’s teaching and research reflect this diversity. Our supervisors have expertise in a wide range of topics and countries and our students have carried out research in five continents. 

A multidisciplinary ethos in a leading centre of social sciences

Socially and culturally diverse, Brunel anthropology also benefits from its position within a multidisciplinary social sciences school in which students are able to take modules in the sister disciplines of psychology, social psychology, and sociology/communications. (Even if, as a PhD candidate, you do not want to opt for a psychology module, you may find it stimulating to sit in on lectures in the evolutionary psychology series or catch the odd distinguished visiting lecturer.) Anthropology students join with other social sciences students in the Graduate Research Skills and Professional Development module which helps them with presentation skills, and gives them the know-how necessary to get research published and make the most of career opportunities.

A friendly and supportive research environment

Added to Brunel’s diversity and openness is the friendly and supportive atmosphere of its anthropology department: something not possible in a large impersonal institution. In a middle-sized department, what we can offer is a high level of personal attention, with training and supervision tailored to the interests of individual students. You will be assigned two supervisors, often with complementary expertise, but you will of course benefit from the broader range of knowledge in our anthropology team.

You can explore our campus and facilities for yourself by taking our virtual tour.

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Find a supervisor

Our researchers create knowledge and advance understanding, and equip versatile doctoral researchers with the confidence to apply what they have learnt for the benefit of society. Find out more about working with the Supervisory Team.

You are welcome to approach your potential supervisor directly to discuss your research interests. Search for expert supervisors for your chosen field of research.

The Anthropology staff and their research interests:

  • Nicolas Argenti - Youth, childhood, performance, political violence and collective memory; Cameroon, Greece
  • Andrew Beatty - Psychological and psychiatric anthropology, emotion, religion and ritual, new approaches to ethnographic writing; Indonesia and Mexico
  • Liana Chua - Anthropology of conversion, ritual and religion; development and conservation; human-animal relations and multispecies ethnography; ‘anthropocene’ discourses, politics and ontologies; materiality, museology, visual anthropology; Malaysian Borneo
  • Peggy Froerer - Education and schooling; childhood and youth; poverty and development; inequality and social mobility; nationalism and ethnic conflict; South Asia
  • Eric Hirsch - Historicity and landscape; myth, personhood and ritual; power and property relations; Papua New Guinea, Britain
  • Maria Kastrinou - Sectarianism, nationalism and minorities; the state, authoritarianism, statelessness; Islam and Druze religion; Syrian war, refugees; social politics of energy and electricity; post-conflict reconciliation and development; Middle East, Greece, Europe
  • Isak Niehaus - Political anthropology; witchcraft and cosmology; HIV/AIDS; masculinity and sexuality; history of anthropology; Southern Africa
  • Will Rollason - Development and the post-colony; the future; youth; football; Rwanda, Papua New Guinea
  • James Staples - Medical anthropology (leprosy, disability, the body and pain); suicide; anthropology of food; biography and life history; South Asia

Please browse our online individual staff profiles, but in general, we welcome anthropological research in the following areas:

  • Medical Anthropology
  • Psychological and Psychiatric Anthropology
  • Anthropology of Education and Schooling
  • Anthropology of Childhood and Youth
  • International Development and Humanitarian Assistance
  • Global Conservation
  • Human/Animal Relations and Multi-Species Ethnography
  • Anthropology of Food
  • Anthropology of Emotion
  • Collective Memory
  • Suicide
  • Biography and Life History
  • Performance and Embodiment
  • Landscape, Time and Temporality
  • Religion and Ritual
  • Anthropocenic Discourses and Ontologies
  • Political Violence, the State, Nationalism
  • Visual Anthropology, Materiality, Museology
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Research journey

A PhD involves demonstrating through original research or other advanced scholarship the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge at the forefront of an academic discipline or professional practice, the ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the general of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline.

This course can be studied 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time, starting in January. Or this course can be studied 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time, starting in October. Or this course can be studied 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time, starting in April.

Find out about what progress might look like at each stage of study here: Research degree progress structure.

PhD topics

While we welcome applications from student with a clear direction for their research, we can also provide you with some ideas. Search for PhD topics for your chosen field of research.

The programme specification is in the process of being updated and may not be an accurate reflection of the programme.

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Research support

Excellent research support and training

The Graduate School provides a range of personal, professional and career development opportunities. This includes workshops, online training, coaching and events, to enable you to enhance your professional profile, refine your skills, and plan your next career steps as part of the Researcher Development Programme.

Find our more: Study environment for research students

Library services

Brunel's Library is open 24 hours a day, has 400,000 books and 250,000 ebooks, and an annual budget of almost £2m. Subject information Specialists train students in the latest technology, digital literacy, and digital dissemination of scholarly outputs.

The Library services boast:

  • state-of-the-art research information management tools including a research
  • publication and grant database
  • one of the largest UK's full text repository
  • an integrated data management system
  • analytical tools such as Altmertic and InCites
  • Open Access centrally managed fund

Find out more: Brunel Library

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Careers and your future

Tailored careers support is offered to all our current PhD students and for up to 3 years after you complete your research at Brunel. We help you to actively engage in career planning and managing your personal development right from the start of your research. Our careers provision includes online advice, one to one consultations and a range of events and workshops.

In addition, where available, you may be able to undertake some paid work as we recognise that teaching and learning support duties represent an important professional and career development opportunity.

Find out more.

Paid work available to research students
Undertaking teaching and learning support duties represents an important professional and career development opportunity for postgraduate research students. Brunel offers two levels of paid work available to Postgraduate Research students. The first level post is as a Demonstrator and the second level post is as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA). Teaching and learning support duties will vary between Departments and research students should not rely on such opportunities being available. Find out more here.

Following the completion of the course students may follow several career paths:

  • Career path within academia
  • Career path within the international development sector or aid industry, working with non-governmental organisations (e.g., Oxfam, Save the Children, Green Peace) or with international governmental agencies (e.g . World Health Organisation, World Food Programme, UNESCO, etc.)
  • Career path with cultural organisations: museum curator, education officer, independent researcher
  • Career path in government or with the civil service (e.g., UK Department for International Development, the NHS, local Councils)
  • Career path with local or international corporations, as organisational consultants (Intel, IBM, Saatchi and Saatchi, Nike)
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UK entry requirements

The general University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (1st or 2:1). 

An interview may be required as part of the admissions process, and if so it would be conducted by one of the academic staff members remotely via Skype, phone or other means. 

Applicants will be required to submit a personal statement and a research statement.
Please contact your proposed supervisor, where possible, to receive feedback and guidance on your research statement before submitting it. Learn how to prepare a research statement here.  

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EU and International entry requirements

If you require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK, you must prove knowledge of the English language so that we can issue you a Certificate of Acceptance for Study (CAS). To do this, you will need an IELTS for UKVI or Trinity SELT test pass gained from a test centre approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and on the Secure English Language Testing (SELT) list. This must have been taken and passed within two years from the date the CAS is made.

English language requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 (min 6 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 58 (51 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 65% (min 60% in all areas)
  • TOEFL: 92 (min 20 in all)

You can find out more about the qualifications we accept on our English Language Requirements page.

Should you wish to take a pre-sessional English course to improve your English prior to starting your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider for the same reason. We offer our own BrunELT English test and have pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet requirements or who wish to improve their English. You can find out more information on English courses and test options through our Brunel Language Centre.

Please check our Admissions pages for more information on other factors we use to assess applicants. This information is for guidance only and each application is assessed on a case-by-case basis. Entry requirements are subject to review, and may change.

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Fees and funding

2020/21 entry

UK / EU

£4,407 full-time

£2,203 part-time

International

£15,860 full-time

£7,930 part-time

Fees quoted are per year and are subject to an annual increase.

Some courses incur additional course related costs. You can also check our on-campus accommodation costs for more information on living expenses.

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. Recently the UK Government made available the Doctoral Student Loans of up to £25,000 for UK and EU students and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.