M.Sc. Ethnobotany

  • On Campus
  • 12 months
  • GBP15920 per Year (International

    Tuition fee for the international students.

    )
    GBP9020 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
The Ethnobotany programme from the University of Kent combines anthropological studies of human-environment interaction and sociocultural knowledge of plants in different parts of the world with ecology, conservation science, environmental law and biodiversity management. It also covers plant conservation and sustainable management practices, taxonomy, and economic botany.
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Description

Ethnobotany is essentially interdisciplinary, involving knowledge of plants and their ecology in the context of their cultural, social and economic significance.

Ethnobotany is the study of the interrelationship between people and plants, particularly the way in which plants impact on human culture and practices, how humans have used and modified plants, and how they represent them in their systems of knowledge.

The programme from the University of Kent is taught collaboratively with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew (a World Heritage Site).

Why study with us?
  • One-year Master's programme.
  • First programme of its kind in the world and only graduate course in UK and Europe.
  • Study with the largest research group for Ethnobotany in Europe.
  • More than 25% of our graduates complete PhD programmes.
  • Integrates field methods with theoretical perspectives.
  • Jointly taught with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and partners with The London School of Pharmacy, The Eden Project and the Endangered Languages Archive at SOAS.
  • Research active lecturers, recognised as being world-leading and internationally excellent (REF 2014), with wide geographical expertise.
  • Field trips to the ancient woodlands of the Blean, the Powell-Cotton Museum and the Eden Project.

Applicants might also be interested in reading more about the Annual Distinguished Ethnobotanist Lecture and our Ethnobotanical Garden

This programme draws on the combined strengths of three academic centres. At the University of Kent, the Centre for Biocultural Diversity has pioneered research and teaching in ethnobotany and human ecology; it has been rated excellent for teaching, and its work in anthropological approaches to the environment flagged for excellence in the most recent HEFCE Research Assessment Exercise.

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.

Careers

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.

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.

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
  • GBP15920 per year ( International

    Tuition fee for the international students.

    )
  • GBP9020 per year ( EEA

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

    )
Part-time fees:
  • UK/EU: £4,520;
  • Overseas: £7,960
Credits (ECTS) 90 ECTS
  • Total Kent credits: 180
  • Total ECTS credits: 90
Credits 180
  • Total Kent credits: 180
  • Total ECTS credits: 90
Duration full-time 12 months
Partnership Joint
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

The MSc is an intensive 12-month programme. You take six coursework modules over the first six months and then undertake a project and write a dissertation in the second six months.

Additionally, it is also possible to take modules from the list available for our MA programmes in Anthropology and from our MSc in Conservation Biology as un-assessed options. The modules available may include foundations of natural science for conservation, social science perspectives on conservation, population and evolutionary biology, nature tourism, principles and practice of ecotourism, integrated species conservation and management, trade, economics, regulation and the environment, conservation and community development, and managing protected areas.

The course will be supplemented with practical work, field visits to local sites of ethnobotanical interest (Blean woodland, national fruit collection at Brogdale, Canterbury Cathedral Library, phytomedical suppliers and practitioners), and through guest speakers involved in research in various parts of the world.

Dissertation and fieldwork

Students undertake intensive coursework between September and the end of March each academic year. Towards the end of this period, they develop a concept for a project and write a proposal, as part of their assessed work. The second six months of the programme consists entirely of project and dissertation work under the direction of an appropriate supervisor. The supervisor can be from either Kent or Kew and you are encouraged to work on subjects where staff have particular expertise, while pursuing a research theme in a geographical area in which you have a particular interest.

Students may select projects that are library, museum or lab-based, but many wish to undertake fieldwork (usually of six weeks duration) and we try to facilitate this. Some students come to the programme with developed ideas about their projects, others may chose topics that relate to current work at Kew or Kent. For example, in recent years we have been able to provide modest financial support for projects related to our Leverhulme-funded British Homegardens Project, a linguistic diversity erosion project in Cameroon and through the Global Diversity Foundation. Examples of MSc Dissertation titles.

Kew are central partners to this programme. Find out full details of Kew's involvement and the plant resources module they teach on this programme.

Modules

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

  • Contemporary Issues in Ethnobotany
  • Research Methods in Social Anthropology
  • Environmental Anthropology
  • Ethnobiological Knowledge Systems
  • Introduction to Botanical Ethnobotany
  • Plant Resources and their Conservation
  • Dissertation: Ethnobotany
Teaching and Assessment

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

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • provide you with a broad range of knowledge in the major aspects of the subject, showing how these involve connections between a range of different academic disciplines
  • provide you with advanced level knowledge of the theoretical, methodological and policy issues relevant to understanding the subdiscipline
  • provide you with advanced level knowledge of the theoretical and methodological issues relevant to understanding the subject
  • introduce you to a variety of different approaches to ethnobotanical 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 you with appropriate training if you are preparing MPhil/PhD theses, or going on to employment involving the use of ethnobotanical research
  • 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 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 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 ethnobotanical 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 which 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:

  • ethnobotany as the comparative and interdisciplinary study of the relationship between people and plants
  • specific themes in ethnobotany eg plant conservation, medical ethnobotany, ethnobotanical knowledge systems
  • cultural and biological diversity and an appreciation of its scope
  • several ethnographic regions of the world including north Africa, South America. South Asia and Southeast Asia (in particular Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines)
  • the history of the development of ethnobotany as a subject
  • the variety of theoretical approaches contained within the subject
  • the processes of biological and social change
  • the application of ethnobotany to understanding issues of sustainable social and economic development and environmental conservation throughout the world
  • the relevance of ethnobotany to understanding everyday processes of plant-human 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:

  • understanding 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
  • recognising the pertinence of an ethnobotanical perspective to understanding major national and international events.
  • interpreting plants by locating them within appropriate cultural and historical contexts
  • high-level competence in using ethnobotanical 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 plant use
  • devising questions for research and study which are anthropologically informed
  • perceiving the way in which cultural assumptions may affect the perception and use of plants
  • an openness to try and make rational sense of cultural and social phenomena related to plants that may appear at first sight incomprehensible.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • making 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
  • 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 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 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 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.
Primatology
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

IELTS Take IELTS test
6.5
CAE score
176(Grade B2)
TOEFL iBT® test (read more)
90

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

Requirements

  • A good honours degree (2.1 or above) in anthropology, botany, biology, environmental studies, environmental science, geography or similar.

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

Work Experience

No work experience is required.

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