M.A. Environmental Anthropology (MA, MSc)

  • On Campus
  • 12 months
  • GBP13340 per Year (International

    Tuition fee for the international students.

    GBP5430 per Year (EEA

    European Economic Area tuition fee is applicable to the students from EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

  • English ( Take IELTS test or Find a course )
| Canterbury, England, United Kingdom
Environmental Anthropology is an interdisciplinary study into how societies are influenced by the environment and how they manage natural resources and hazards. You can study the Environmental Anthropology (MA, MSc) at the University of Kent.
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This Environmental Anthropology (MA, MSc) programme from University of Kent offers you the opportunity to acquire advanced knowledge of how different societies are influenced by the environment and manage natural resources and hazards, in relation to issues in human ecology, biodiversity management, sustainable development, environmental change and the practical applications of such knowledge.

As a graduate of this programme, you will have a range of both practical and evaluative skills, and experience of conducting empirical or other applied research. This allows you to pursue work as a researcher and will inform whatever position you take up in the future. Your expertise will be welcome in a range of organisations including national or international environmental bodies, governmental departments and nongovernmental organisations.

Students have the opportunity to study for an MA or an MSc with students who opt for the MSc being offered the opportunity to take conservation modules taught by researchers from the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE).

Why study with us?
  • One-year Master's programme
  • Innovative teaching methods which provide practical, hands-on learning
  • Good range of module choices including conservation modules supported by DICE for those taking the MSc version
  • Field trip opportunities including to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Eden Project, the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale, the Bird of Prey Centre at Leeds Castle and the Powell-Cotton Museum
  • Specialist facilities including an Ethnobiology Laboratory which houses the Powell-Cotton collection of plant-based material culture from Southeast Asia
  • Links with the Centre for Biocultural Diversity as well as global partners including the Institute of Ecology in Bandung, the Centre for International Forestry Research in Indonesia and the Global Diversity Foundation
  • Research-led teaching by an institution specialising in postgraduate training

We follow an experiential and interactive learning method. We continue to look for innovative ways to present lectures, run seminars and workshops, write exams, design assignments, supervise students and evaluate essays and theses, to ensure that students develop practical expertise as well as an understanding of the methods used by environmental anthropologists.

Generally, you take assessed modules in Environmental Anthropology, Ethnobiological Knowledge Systems, Contemporary Issues in Ethnography, social anthropology, and Research Methods. These modules involve a combination of lectures, seminar discussions and practical laboratories. Additionally, you may opt to attend modules taught in DICE (the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology) on conservation biology, nature and tourism and the international wildlife trade.

There are also informal workshop series in practical methods in conservation social science (jointly held with DICE), cultural domain analysis, research design, and computer applications, as well as field trips.

Throughout your Master's, you spend time thinking about and preparing for your dissertation project, which is the culmination of the programme. If you are looking to study overseas you can apply for funding from outside bodies as well as for support from the School. You prepare proposals, practice methods, arrange for permits and letters of consent, and, if necessary take language classes to prepare for around eight weeks of research between April and 1 July. You then write a 15,000 word dissertation that goes beyond a simple research report to argue a theoretical point and discuss research findings in much wider contexts. Increasingly, our students are going on to publish edited versions of their projects and are making substantive contributions to the research, development or conservation projects they work with.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Anthropology and Conservation was ranked 10th for research power and in the top 20 in the UK for research impact and research intensity.

An impressive 94% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

In the latest Student Barometer survey 100% of our postgraduate students were satisfied with the academic content of their course and 97% said they found their programme intellectually stimulating.


As a School recognised for its excellence in research we are one of the partners in the South East Doctoral Training Centre, which is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). This relationship ensures that successful completion of our courses is sufficient preparation for research in the various fields of social anthropology. Many of our students go on to do PhD research. Others use their Master’s qualification in employment ranging from research in government departments to teaching to consultancy work overseas.

The School has a very good record for postgraduate employment and academic continuation. Studying anthropology, you develop an understanding of the complexity of all actions, beliefs and discourse by acquiring strong methodological and analytical skills. Anthropologists are increasingly being hired by companies and organisations that recognise the value of employing people who understand the complexities of societies and organisations.

Many of our alumni teach in academic positions in universities across the world, while others work for a wide range of organisations. Examples of positions held by our alumni include:

  • Project director for the Global Diversity Foundation
  • Curator at Beirut Botanic Gardens.

Detailed Course Facts

Start dates and application deadlines

Started in

  • There is no deadline for this start date.

Dates reflect the university's timezone.

Tuition fee
  • GBP13340 per year ( International

    Tuition fee for the international students.

  • GBP5430 per year ( EEA

    European Economic Area tuition fee is applicable to the students from EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Environmental Anthropology - MA at Canterbury:
  • Full-time: UK/EU: £5,430; Overseas: £13,340
  • Part-time: UK/EU: £2,720; Overseas: £6,690
Environmental Anthropology - MSc at Canterbury:
  • Full-time: UK/EU: £9,020; Overseas: £15,920
  • Part-time: UK/EU: £4,520; Overseas: £7,960
Credits (ECTS) 90 ECTS
  • Total Kent credits: MA 180; MSc 180
  • Total ECTS credits: MA 90; MSc 90
Credits 180
  • Total Kent credits: MA 180; MSc 180
  • Total ECTS credits: MA 90; MSc 90
Duration full-time 12 months
Delivery mode On Campus
Educational variant Part-time, Full-time
Intensity Flexible
Duration part-time 24 months
Part-time variant Flexible

Course Content

Course structure

Teaching for coursework takes place in the first and second terms. During the third term and the summer period, you prepare your dissertation on a topic that reflects your own individual interests and experience.


Please note that modules are subject to change. Please contact the School for more detailed information on availability.

  • Theory and Ethnography in Social Anthropology I
  • Research Methods in Social Anthropology
  • Environmental Anthropology
  • Ethnobiological Knowledge Systems
  • Research Methods in Social Anthropology II
  • Lowland South American Anthropology
  • Visual Anthropology Theory
  • The Ethnography of Central Asian Societies
  • The Anthropology of Eating
  • Medical Anthropology
  • Ethnography of the Pacific (20 credits)
  • FRTP Module 4
  • Contemporary Issues in Ethnobotany
  • Ethnicity Nationalism & Identity I
  • Theory and Ethnography in Social Anthropology II
  • Principles and Practice of Ecotourism
  • Conservation and Community Development
  • Social Science Perspectives on Environmental Issues
  • Contemporary Ethnography in Environmental Anthropology
  • Dissertation: Environmental Anthropology
  • Advanced Topics in Medicinal Plants
  • Managing Protected Areas
  • International Wildlife Trade - Achieving Sustainability
  • Advanced Topics in Conservation Ecology and Management
  • Economics of Biodiversity Conservation
  • Politics and Sociology of the Environment
Teaching and Assessment

Assessment is by written reports, oral presentations and the dissertation.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • to provide you with a broad range of knowledge in environmental anthropology, a major sub-division of anthropology, showing how it is closely linked to other academic disciplines
  • to provide you with advanced level knowledge of the theoretical, methodological and policy issues relevant to understanding the subdiscipline
  • introduce you to a variety of different approaches to environmental anthropology research, presented in a multidisciplinary context and at an advanced level
  • facilitate your educational experience through the provision of appropriate pedagogical opportunities for learning
  • provide an appropriate training if you are preparing MPhil/PhD theses, or if you are going on to employment involving the use of research methods and results in environmental anthropology
  • make you aware of the range of existing material available and equip you to evaluate its utility for your research
  • cover the principles of research design and strategy, including formulating research questions or hypotheses and translating them into practicable research designs.
  • introduce you to the philosophical, theoretical and ethical issues surrounding research and to debates about the relationship between theory and research, about problems of evidence and inference, and about the limits to objectivity.
  • develop your skills in searching for and retrieving information, using library and internet resources in a multidisciplinary and cross-national context.
  • introduce you to the idea of working with other academic and non-academic agencies, when appropriate, and give you the skills to carry out collaborative research.
  • develop your skills in writing, in the preparation of a research proposal, in the analysis and presentation of research results and in verbal communication
  • help you to prepare your research results for wider dissemination, in the form of seminar papers, conference presentations, reports and publications, in a form suitable for a range of different audiences, including academics, policymakers, professionals, service users and the general public.
  • give you an appreciation of the potentialities and problems of environmental anthropological research in local, regional, national and international settings
  • ensure that the research of the Department’s staff informs the design of modules, and their content and delivery in ways that can achieve the national benchmarks of the subject in a manner which is efficient and reliable, and enjoyable to students.
Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • environmental anthropology as the comparative and interdisciplinary study of the relationship between people and their environment
  • specific themes in environmental anthropology eg co-evolution of humans and environment, environmental perception, cultural ecology, nature symbolism, environmentalism, political ecology, natural resource use, environmental change
  • cultural and biological diversity and an appreciation of its scope
  • several ethnographic regions of the world, including north and west Africa, South America, Pacific Islands, South Asia and Southeast Asia (in particular Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines)
  • the history of the development of environmental anthropology as a subject
  • the variety of theoretical approaches contained within the subject
  • the process of biological and socio-cultural change
  • the application of environmental anthropology to understanding issues of sustainable social and economic development and environmental conservation throughout the world
  • the relevance of environmental anthropology to understanding everyday processes of human-environment interaction anywhere in the world.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • general learning and study skills
  • critical and analytical skills
  • expression of ideas both orally and in written form
  • communication skills
  • groupwork skills
  • computing skills
  • reviewing and summarising information
  • data retrieval ability.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • the ability to understand how people are shaped by their social, cultural and physical environments while nonetheless possessing a capacity for individual agency which can allow them to transcend some environmental constraints
  • the ability to recognise the pertinence of an environmental anthropological perspective to understanding major national and international events.
  • the ability to interpret texts and performance by locating them within appropriate cultural and historical contexts
  • high-level competence in using environmental anthropological theories and perspectives in the presentation of information and argument
  • high-level ability to identify and analyse the significance of the social and cultural contexts of natural resource use
  • the ability to devise questions for research and study which are anthropologically informed
  • the ability to perceive the way in which cultural assumptions may affect the perception and use of natural resources
  • an openness to try and make rational sense of human-environment interactions that may appear at first sight incomprehensible.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • the ability to make a structured argument
  • the ability to make appropriate reference to scholarly data
  • time-management skills
  • the use of information technology including computers and library research
  • groupwork
  • handling audio-visual equipment
  • independent research
  • presentation skills
  • have the ability to exercise initiative and personal responsibility
  • have the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.
Research areas

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: American Ethnologist; Current Anthropology; Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute; American Journal of Physical Anthropology; Proceedings of the Royal Society B; and Journal of Human Evolution.
Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology
Work in these areas is focused on the Centre for Biocultural Diversity. We conduct research on ethnobiological knowledge systems, ethnoecology, and other systems of environmental knowledge, as well as local responses to deforestation, climate change, natural resource management, medical ethnobotany, the impacts of mobility and displacement and the interface between conservation and development. The Centre has an Ethnobiology Lab and Ethnobotanical Garden, and extensive collaborative links, including with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the Eden Project.
Social Anthropology

The regional expertise of our staff has a global reach, with field sites in Europe (including UK), the Middle East, the Balkans, South Asia, Amazonia and Central America, Oceania and Southeast Asia. Themes of conflict, violence, the economic crisis and precarity form a major focus of our current work in these areas, alongside new research on austerity and its social impact, and charity. We have emerging interests in social inequality, work, and organised crime and corruption; and are internationally recognised for our work on ethnicity, nationalism, and identity.

Our research extends to intercommunal violence, diasporas, pilgrimage, intercommunal trade, urban ethnogenesis, indigenous representation and the study of contemporary religions and their global connections (especially Islam). History and heritage is another key theme, with related interests in time and temporality, and the School hosts the leading journal History and Anthropology. Other research addresses the anthropology of natural resources; anthropology of tourism; and post-socialist economy and society in Europe and Central Asia.

We research issues in fieldwork and methodology more generally, with a strong interest in the field of visual anthropology. Our work on identity and locality links with growing strengths in kinship and parenthood. This is complemented by work on the language of relatedness, and the cognitive bases of kinship terminologies

A final focus concerns science, medical anthropology and contemporary society. We work on the anthropology of business, biotechnology, and mental health. Related research focuses on policy and advocacy issues and examines the connections between public health policy and local healing strategies. Staff collaborations and networks extend widely across these regions and thematic interests, and Kent is well-known for its pioneering engagement with the anthropology of Europe.
Biological Anthropology

Our research encompasses a broad range of topics within biological and evolutionary anthropology, including bioarchaeology, forensic anthropology, archaeological science, human reproductive strategies, hominin evolution, primate behaviour and ecology, modern human variation, and cultural. We have three dedicated research laboratories, as well as a commercial osteology unit.

Our research takes us to many regions of the world (Asia, Africa, Europe, South America and the United States). We collaborate with international research organisations, including the Instituto de Biología Subtropical (Argentina), German Primate Center, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, and Budongo Conservation Field Station (Uganda). Members of staff provide a wide research network offering research opportunities in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America.
Skeletal Biology
Our Skeletal Biology Research Centre is the only UK Centre focusing on analysis of biological hard tissues (bones and teeth). It brings together innovative research, novel methodologies and international collaborations, with expertise and resources from the Schools of Physical Sciences and Biosciences at Kent, and the Powell-Cotton Museum. Research ranges from analyses of the most important human fossils, histological studies of teeth and bone, isotopic analyses and dietary reconstruction, virtual 3D analyses of the skeleton, and forensic identification that together ultimately aim to better understand humans and our evolutionary history.
The Living Primates Research Group fosters research into the behaviour and ecology of primates. It addresses questions concerning adaptation using living primates as model species, to provide a comparative framework for the understanding of human biology and behaviour, and investigate the biological and social dimensions of anthropogenic impacts on non-human primates (NHPs). Research ranges from functional morphology to behavioural ecology and physiology, cultural primatology, and the interplay of primate biology, ecology and conservation, including primate rehabilitation and reintroduction and human-NHP coexistence.
Digital Anthropology: Cultural Informatics and Computational Methods
Since 1985, we have pioneered new approaches to digital anthropology. Achievements include advances in kinship theory supported by new computational methods. We are exploring cloud media, semantic networks, multi-agent modelling, dual/blended realities, data mining, and smart environments. Current work also addresses quantitative approaches for assessing qualitative materials; mobile computing; sensing and communications platforms, and transformation of virtual into concrete objects.

English Language Requirements

CAE score
176(Grade B2)
TOEFL iBT® test (read more)

IMPORTANT NOTE: The UK government confirmed new requirements for secure English language testing for visa and immigration purposes. Learn more


  • A good honours degree (2.1 or above) in anthropology or other associated fields, including environmental studies.

Admission to UK universities often requires that students have completed a recognized Bachelor's degree. International students should consider taking a Pre-Master to gain access to UK universities when:

  • You are considered ineligible for admission
  • You need to improve your academic, study, research or language skills
Search all Pre-Masters

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