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Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

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Course details

The programme offers an integrated, inter-disciplinary education in emerging issues at the interface of global health and environmental sustainability. Led by the Anthropology Department, students will study core modules in Global Health, Planetary Health, Energy and Climate, with opportunities to take optional modules across a range of other disciplines. It will therefore be relevant both to social scientists keen to expand their horizons and to those with backgrounds in other disciplines (e.g. natural science, engineering, medicine, public health) who want to gain in-depth understanding of the social contexts and implications of current global challenges (such as climate change, conflicts over natural resources) in relation to health, equity and sustainable futures.

The programme aims to develop critical, analytical, interpretative, integrative and presentation skills and to provide an opportunity, through the dissertation, for students to pursue and report original research under expert supervision. The programme also aims to prepare students for doctoral research in relevant fields and/or a career in applied and international development contexts.

The core modules will address history, theories and practices of: health and healthcare at multiple scales (local, national, global); resilience, environment and the socio-politics of energy today; and how these relate to the emerging field of planetary health. Students without a specialised social science and health background will be introduced to key theoretical concepts through the module Society, Health & Wellbeing, and to research and analytical approaches through taking one or more of modules in research methods.

Students will have the opportunity to follow specialised routes through the programme by choosing from a wide array of elective modules that draw on options from across the university’s four faculties. This will allow students from different backgrounds to specialise further in areas of their choice (e.g. engineering, health, anthropology, geography, law or politics). To accommodate inclusion of students from diverse backgrounds, a careful induction and support programme will provide them with access to skills learning and support to help them work across inter-disciplinary boundaries.

Course structure

Core modules:

Anthropology of Global Health

Planetary Health in Social Context

Society, Energy, Environment and Resilience

Plus one dissertation module:


Vocational Dissertation (including placement)

A maximum of two from this list:

Fieldwork and Interpretation

Field Study

Statistical Analysis in Anthropology

Examples of optional modules:

Context and Challenges in Energy and Society

Society, Health and Wellbeing

Advanced Studies in Anthropological Skills for Climate Change Survival

Anthropology and Development

Interrogating Ethnography

Thinking Anthropologically

Understanding Society and Culture

*Advanced Studies in Anthropological Skills for Climate

Change Survival

*Advanced Studies in Anthropology of Tobacco

*Advanced Studies in Capitalism in Ruins

*Advanced Studies in Development, Conflict, and Crisis in the Lower Omo Valley

*Advanced Studies in Power and Governance

*Advanced Studies in The Anthropology of Health Inequality

*Advanced Studies in Poison, Pollution, and The Chemical Anthropocene

*Environmental Economics and Policy (Economics)

*Environmental Valuation (Economics)

*Natural Resource Management (Economics)

*Hydrology and Water Resources (Engineering)

*Critical Medical Humanities: Frameworks and Debates (English Studies)

*Understanding Risk (Geography)

*Climate, Risk and Society (Geography)

*Using Geographical Skills and Techniques (Geography)

*Risk, Science and Communication (Geography)

*Hydro-Meteorological Hazards (Geography)

*Risk Frontiers (Geography)

*Climate Change Law and Policy (Law)

*Global Environmental Law (Law)

*Medical Law and Ethics (Law)

*Contemporary Issues in Medical Law (Law)

*Science, Medicine and The Enlightenment (Philosophy)

*Ethics, Medicine and History (Philosophy)

*Philosophical Issues in Science and Medicine (Philosophy)

*Sociology of Health and Illness (Sociology)

*Communities, Civil Society and Social Justice (Sociology)

*Participatory Action Research (Sociology)

A credit-bearing language module offered by the Centre for Foreign Language Studies

*may not run every year

NB The optional modules in English and Modern Languages are both subject to the approval of new Master’s degrees in Medical Humanities and Environmental Humanities respectively.


A combination of teaching methods will build on and inform students’ self-guided study, the latter supported through the provision of detailed reading lists and personal contact with module convenors and tutors, as follows:

The inductionwill include a skills assessment process for each student, and an introduction to new study skills for students crossing disciplinary boundaries. Using university training already on offer, students will be directed towards appropriate skills modules in essay writing and bibliographic skills, and in elementary skills in quantitative analysis, in particular. The programme director will keep skills assessment records, and these will be updated at regular intervals through an ongoing personal tutorial scheme. Induction will include a short, shared research activity that will set the pattern for collaborative and supportive mutual learning among the student cohort, with the support and guidance of the programme director and individual tutors. Each student will have an Academic Advisor (who will also have contact with the student either as programme director or programme module tutor). The Advisor will assist students with module choices, dissertation planning, study skill development, and pastoral care. Through regular tutorial and seminar meetings with the programme team, students will receive skills assessments, feedback and support, alongside guidance in study skills and towards training offered at faculty and university levels.

Lectures in core modules will be based on planned module outlines, with flexibility to adapt to student needs and interests. A range of methods will be included in lectures, including transfer of information, reflection and debate, problem solving and case study, student-led presentations, and classroom discussions. Lectures provide students with materials and analytical approaches that allow students to transform information into knowledge. They offer students guidance in developing appreciation of theory and its applications, demonstrating how a range of theoretical approaches can be adopted.

Seminars require student participation, offering them opportunities to prepare information, analysis and discussion for presentation to peers under the guidance of an experienced staff member. Students will be able to use seminars to explore subjects of interest in more depth, or develop further understanding of theoretical issues raised in lectures and in their self-guided learning. Seminars will also provide the opportunity to develop students’ abilities in communicating across disciplinary boundaries and working in inter-disciplinary groups.

Tutorials, held either individually or in small groups (<5) can be more focused on individual student needs, including a focus on study skills, communication skills, writing and essay or report structuring. Particularly where students have little experience of social science study skills, tutorials and seminars will focus on nurturing students’ literature-review and writing skills. Careful attention will be paid to confidence-building, by setting smaller experiential tasks, enabling students to develop their skills cumulatively and building towards more sustained written discussions and argumentation in different formats.

Self-guided learning allows students to deepen and broaden the scope of their knowledge and skills and to direct their learning beyond the core curriculum into areas of particular interest. Self-guided learning includes the general and specific reading for core and optional modules, and requires students to manage access to a range of library and other resources. From induction onwards, students will be encouraged to work together as a peer group to form study-groups, to advise each other on helpful resources, to provide moral support, and to learn to explain and articulate their learning to each other.

Fieldwork and practical research skills are embedded in some of the methods modules; particularly Field Study, which entails 5 days of intensive student-led fieldwork; also Fieldwork & Interpretation, which involves a series of shorter practical exercises in ethnographic research. Students will also be encouraged to develop and practise these skills further through undertaking primary empirical research for their dissertations.

Dissertation supervision can be seen as a form of guided student learning. Whether they choose to do independent research or work-placement based research, all students will receive regular supervision. Students will be supported in identifying relevant research fields, developing research questions and applying suitable methodologies. Students will be advised on time-management and other aspects of project management and will receive feedback on improving their written research outputs. Guidance and advice on evaluating and articulating relevant ethical issues and debates is included in the dissertation supervision.

Entry requirements

Normally a minimum 2:1 Honours degree from a UK institution (or the overseas equivalent) in a relevant subject. This requirement may be waived for applicants with particularly high levels of relevant practical or professional experience

Strength of personal statement, experience in a non-academic engagement with sustainability or development issues (whether salaried, volunteer or self-directed) and quality of references will be taken into consideration.

IELTS at least 6.5* (and with no component under 6*) or equivalent scores in an alternative accepted English language test. Details of alternative accepted tests and the requirements for your subject and level of study can be found here. In some cases, English language proficiency can also be evidenced in other ways. You can find further information regarding this, here.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £12,000 per year
EU students £25,250 per year
Island students £12,000 per year
International students £25,250 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £6,600 per year
EU students £13,900 per year
Island students £6,600 per year
International students £13,900 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities


Students with a postgraduate qualification in Anthropology pursue a diverse array of careers in areas such as conservation, tourism, public health, health research and management, captive primate care and zoological research management, local government research and management, education (secondary, further and higher), social care, social research, in addition to academia.

For further information on career options and employability, student and employer testimonials and details of work experience and study abroad opportunities, please visit our employability pages.

Department information


Anthropology at Durham is now one of the largest integrated anthropology departments in the UK, carrying out cutting-edge research across social and evolutionary anthropology, and the anthropology of health.

For more information see our department pages.


  • Top 30 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2022
  • Top 5 in The Complete University Guide 2023


For a current list of staff, please see the Anthropology pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 45% of our research was rated as world-leading (REF 2021)


The Department of Anthropology hosts a range of state-of-the-art research facilities that are used and run by academic members of staff and their postgraduate students. Given our commitment to research-led teaching, undergraduates and taught postgraduates frequently conduct research projects using these facilities.

More information on our facilities and equipment.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more

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