M.A. Anthropology of Food

SOAS, University of London

Application deadline: June 30
Tuition fee:
  • € 7,900 / Year (EEA)
  • € 17,250 / Year (Non-EEA)
Start date: September  2015
Duration full-time: 12 months
  • English
Delivery mode: On Campus
Educational variant: Part-time, Full-time

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Food is a fundamental human necessity, essential to the sustenance of the human body. At the same time, food may be associated with pleasure, passion, even luxury. Food is also essential to the social body. Who eats what, who eats with whom, and whose appetites are satisfied and whose denied, are all profoundly social dynamics through which identities, relationships, and hierarchies are created and reproduced.

The SOAS MA programme in the Anthropology of Food offers students the opportunity to explore historically and culturally variable foodways, from foraging to industrial agriculture, from Europe and North America to Africa, Asia and South America. The programme asks students to trace the passage of food from plant to palate, and to examine who benefits, and who suffers, from contemporary modes of food production, exchange, preparation, and consumption. Students examine food policy at national and international levels, as well as the role played in its formation by the food industry.

Focus is given to the study of famine and the controversial role of food aid in securing food supplies. Debates over the impact of agricultural biotechnology on agrarian livelihoods and knowledge systems, as well as on the natural environment, are assessed. Movements toward organic agriculture, fair trade, and slow food are also analysed.

An anthropological approach to the study of food draws upon and challenges the perspectives of other disciplines, whether agronomy or nutritional science, economics or law, history or literature. Dependent upon individual interests and experiences, graduates of the programme may pursue research degrees in any number of academic disciplines, or find employment in food-related government ministries, international organizations, development agencies, or non-governmental associations, as well as in the fields of public health, education, and media, or in the catering industry.


The programme consists of four units in total: three units of examined courses and a one unit dissertation of 10,000 words.

Core Courses:

* The Anthropology of Food - 15PANC013 (1.0 unit).
* Dissertation in Anthropology and Sociology - 15PANC999 (1.0 unit). This is a 10,000 word dissertation on a topic agreed with the Programme Convenor of the MA Anthropology of Food and the candidates supervisor.
* Additionally all MA Anthropology students 'audit' the course Ethnographic Research Methods during term 1 - this will not count towards your 4 units.

Foundation Course:

* Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology - 15PANC008 (1.0 unit). This is compulsory only for students without a previous anthropology degree.

Option Courses:

* The remaining unit(s) of your programme, either 1 unit of option courses (if taking Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology) or 2 units (if exempted from Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology), may then be selected from the Option Courses list below.
* Your 1 or 2 total units may be made up of any combination of 0.5 or 1 unit option courses.
* However, courses without a "15PANxxxx" course code are taught outside of the Anthropology Department. No more than 1 unit in total of these courses may be selected.
* Alternatively, one language course may be taken from the Faculty of Languages and Cultures.

Programme Detail
Core Courses

* The Anthropology of Food - 15PANC013 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Dissertation in Anthropology and Sociology - 15PANC999 (1 Unit) - Full Year

Foundation Course

* Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology - 15PANC008 (1 Unit) - Full Year

Option Courses Anthropology Option Courses

* Anthropological Approaches to Agriculture, Food and Nutrition - (0.5 Unit)
* Directed Practical Study in the Anthropology of Food - 15PANH045 (0.5 Unit) - Full Year
* Culture and Society of China - 15PANC089 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Culture and Society of Japan - 15PANC086 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Culture and Society of South Asia - 15PANC087 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Culture and Society of South East Asia - 15PANC088 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Culture and Society of the Near & Middle East - 15PANC097 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Culture and Society of East Africa - 15PANC084 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Culture and Society of West Africa - 15PANC083 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Perspectives On Development - 15PANH033 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
* Therapy and Culture - 15PANH027 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
* African and Asian Diasporas in the Modern World - 15PANH010 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
* African and Asian Cultures in Britain - 15PANH009 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
* Issues in the Anthropology of Film - 15PANH022 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
* Comparative Media Theory - 15PANH028 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
* Anthropology of travel and tourism A - 15PANH051 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
* Anthropology of travel and tourism B - 15PANH052 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
* Anthropology of Urban Space, Place and Architecture - 15PANH029 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2012/2013
* Media Production Skills - 15PANH050 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
* Comparative Study of Islam: Anthropological Perspectives A (Masters) - 15PANH047 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2012/2013
* Comparative Study of Islam: Anthropological Perspectives B (Masters) - 15PANH048 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2012/2013 - Must be taken with the first term course - 15PANH047 Comparative Study of Islam: Anthropological Perspectives A (Masters)

Courses taught outside the Department of Anthropology

These courses are available subject to approval by the course convenor. Students may take no more than one full unit of courses taught outside of the Department of Anthropology. A language unit taught in the Faculty of Lanuages & Cultures may be taken.

* Political economy of development - 15PDSC002 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Globalisation and development - 15PDSC005 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Agrarian Development, Food Policy and Rural Poverty - 15PDSH026 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
* The working poor and development - 15PDSH030 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
* Civil society, social movements and the development process - 15PDSH001 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
* Gender in the Middle East - 15PGNH001 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
* Gendering migration & diasporas - 15PGNH002 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
* Famine and food security - 15PDSH022 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
* Intellectual property rights and development - 15PLAC113 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Jainism: History, Doctrine and the Contemporary World - 15PSRC024 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Non-Violence in Jain Scriptures, Philosophy and Law - 15PSRC062 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2012/2013 - Please note that from September 2011 this course unit will be named "Non-Violence in Jain Scriptures, Philosophy and Law"


Minimum Entry Requirements: Minimum upper second class BA degree (or equivalent) in the humanities or social or natural sciences, or significant experience in a relevant food- and/or agriculture-related career.

English language requirements
In order to ensure that SOAS students have a sufficient standard of English to study effectively, we require overseas students to submit evidence, during the application process, of their current level of proficiency.

Score for Unconditional Entry

* IELTS: Overall 7+ with at least 7 in all sub scores
* TOEFL: iBT105+ with at least 25 in all sub scores
* Pearson Test of English - Academic: Score of 75 or above with at least 70 in all sub scores

English Language Requirements

IELTS band: 7
TOEFL iBT® test: 105

IMPORTANT NOTE: Per 6 April 2015 only the English language tests from IELTS and Trinity College London are accepted for Tier 4 Visa applications to the United Kingdom. Other tests (including TOEFL, TOEIC, Pearson, City & Guilds) are no longer accepted for Tier 4 visa applications to the United Kingdom. The university might still accept these tests to admit you to the university, but if you require a Tier 4 visa to enter the UK and begin your degree programme, these tests will not be sufficient to obtain your Visa. Since the Trinity College London language tests must be taken in one of their exam centres in the UK, IELTS is now the only language test accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK that can be taken worldwide.

The IELTS test is most widely accepted by universities and is also accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK- learn more.

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