Welcome to the Anthropology Department
Welcome to the University of the Western Cape

Postgraduate Programmes

We have a vibrant community of passionate and committed postgraduate students who contribute widely to the academic life of the department.

With a BA Honours and a MA degrees in anthropology postgraduate students can work in both private and public sectors as researchers, analysis, policy makers and consultants. For instance, graduates who specialise in medical anthropology can work in a number of positions in government; NGOs; private companies that deal directly or indirectly with health matters and health interventions in such areas as HIV/AIDS, policy and mainstreaming, chronic diseases.The same relationship between specialization and job openings can be established for the other specializations. A postgraduate qualification in Anthropology positions one better in the labour market nationally and internationally.

Possession of higher degrees opens the door for engagement in academia, specialised research work, education and teaching areas for those with the passion and drive.

The department offers a range of areas of specialisation from which students can choose depending on their career aspirations and passions in life. Therefore, while providing general and well-rounded training in anthropology, postgraduate students are offered to build specializations in the following areas which are consistent with the research interests and specialisations of the academic faculty in the department—medical anthropology; political and economic anthropology, visual anthropology and popular culture; religion studies; globalization and transnational studies, gender and sexuality, post-human and environmental anthropology.

For further enquiries contact either the Faculty of Arts Post Graduate Office or the Departmental Postgraduate Coordinator:

Dr. Kelly Gillespie
Tel. +27 21 959 3718
E-mail: kgillespie@uwc.ac.za

BA in Anthropology Degrees

This degree introduces students to the process of independent qualitative research. Students learn how to put together their research questions and proposals, understand how to construct a literature review as the basis for a good, theoretically-informed research, train in how to conduct ethnographic research, and how to write up that research into an essay form. Our honours programme teaches students critical thinking and the beginnings of qualitative research skills, as well as how to run their projects. 

Our MA degree has three course modules that deepen theoretical and methodological understanding of qualitative research and writing. A mini-thesis builds on the honours-level training in independent research to develop a longer, more conceptually rigorous and substantial research and writing project. 

To be admitted into the MA programme in Anthropology, students must:

  1. have an Honours degree in Anthropology and related fields/disciplines with a minimum score of 65% in the Honours Research Essay; 
  2. Submit a 2–3-page concept note outlining the research topic, research question(s), some relevant literature, the basic/rudimentary knowledge of key theories in the chosen field, and 
  3. Submit a detailed CV.

Students can choose to enter the MA taught programme, which involves coursework in the first year and the completion of a minor thesis in the second year or enrol for a full thesis programme, which does not require any coursework. However, it is an advanced endeavour that implies that the student can organise and plan well for the workload. In any case, the MA degree requires postgraduate students to undertake independent research based on their chosen research topic. Students will be required to develop research proposals outlining their research topic, objective, literature, theory, and the methodology by the end of the first year of registration. Once ready, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities examines the proposal. 

In the coursework MA, first-year students will be deepening their knowledge in the discipline and field of their research. The courses of the first semester in theory (advanced theory classes) and methodology aim at strengthening students’ mastery of concepts, familiarity with different approaches, and the ability to converse with theory. In the second semester, students will be completing their research proposal and choose one elective module that relates best with the topics of their research.

The PhD degree in Anthropology allows students to specialise in a research area of their choice, developing sophisticated qualitative research and writing skills, and producing original and independent research. Working closely with supervisors, PhD students specialise as researchers and become experts in their chosen fields.

To be admitted into the PhD programme in Anthropology, students must: 

  • Have a Master’s in Anthropology and related fields/disciplines with a minimum score of 70% in the Master’s Thesis Essay 
  • Submit a 2–3-page concept note outlining the research topic, research question(s), relevant literature, advanced knowledge of key theories in the chosen field, and
  • Submit a detailed CV

Postgraduate Modules

In term one, the course focuses on research methods, analysis, the literature review, and ethical consideration. In term two, students work on their research proposal, and in term three, they conduct their fieldwork and lastly write-up their essay in the fourth term.

This course develops perspectives in anthropology as a discipline that is both critical and practical for real-life challenges. Students are encouraged to examine anthropological thinking on central concepts such as culture or society, and the value anthropology attaches to them. 

The course offers an in-depth exploration of the methodologies employed in anthropology. It aims at providing a critical reflection on fieldwork and anthropological practice. It shows how simple choices, such as the selection of a location or a procedure, or the decision to interview a specific person, may have profound theoretical underpinnings that are crucial for the research itself. It teaches students that in anthropology theory and methodology stand as two sides of the same coin.

Elective Modules

The course provides students with knowledge of the value and meaning of different theoretical perspectives in Gender Studies to be able to consider or incorporate gender and differences into research. The course also enables students to analyse gendered identities and theories.

This course enables students to develop a critical anthropological perspective on visual culture, analyse comparatively visual forms and senses and their significance in different social and cultural contexts.

This course introduces students to key concepts and theories in medical anthropology. It explores aspects such as health care systems, medical technologies, epidemics, biomedicine, indigenous healing systems, health inequalities, sexuality, gender and health, and various other health issues. The course draws mainly from ethnographic research conducted in the Global South to explore these issues and develop more grounded theoretical perspectives. It combines literature from anthropology, public health, history, sociology, and other related disciplines. 

This course encourages students to develop a critical anthropological perspective on multiculturalism and diversity. Students are equipped with the skill to analyse comparatively discourses of culture, autochthony and indigeneity in different social, historical and geographical contexts. Students learn to compare different anthropological approaches to multiculturalism, diversity, indigeneity, and autochthony, and are challenged to apply theoretical perspectives to multiculturalism and diversity to a range of empirical case studies.