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.
Option Courses Anthropology Option Courses
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.
Dates reflect the university's timezone.
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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.
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
The award recognises studying abroad as a positively life changing experience for many students as well as promoting intercultural understanding and tolerance. Successful candidates will receive up to £10,000 to be applied toward the cost of tuition fees.
Scholarships and Bursaries
There are some scholarships and bursaries available for postgraduate students. These are very competitive and early application is advised.
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