Skip to main content
Start Dates
Degree type


Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

Programme code


Ready to Apply?

Course details

The MSc in Sustainability, Energy and Development focuses on the global challenges of climate change and inequality, providing you with a wide understanding of the processes and practices that contribute to these acute issues and an insight into the depth of change that is required in order to tackle them and how that is achieved.

The course emphasises the need to understand the role that can be played by local and indigenous knowledge and community-focused action as well as the contribution made through the words and actions of local and national states, corporations, agencies and international organisations in their efforts to address these challenges.

You will be taught by an active, interdisciplinary team who are all involved in world-class research on energy, sustainability and development issues. Collaborations between the Department and the wider sector mean there are opportunities to get involved in a range of exciting programmes that aim to create a world of environmental and social sustainability. These include projects for empowering climate resilience in the Global South; inclusion and equality within European countries; the role of local authorities as agents of change with research in north east England; and projects to address the social and political aspects of new technology development locally and globally.

The course is designed to develop critical, analytical, interpretative, integrative and presentation skills and is based on core modules that look at the challenges of making the transition to sustainability in a way that benefits disadvantaged areas of society and on culturally informed perspectives on newer themes such as resilience and energy justice.

Optional modules allow you to pursue your own interests while the dissertation enables you to carry out independent research under the supervision of a tutor with expertise in your chosen area.

Course structure

Core modules:

Anthropology and Development builds the subject-specific knowledge which is central to development anthropology. This is a seminar-based module requiring you to read and evaluate the latest research material and then present your findings and conclusions. 

Society, Energy, Environment and Resilience introduces anthropological and other social science perspectives concerning the comparative and critical study of the relationships between humans, energy needs and uses and the environment.

Context and Challenges in Energy and Society enables you to consider energy and society throughout history and to explore the implications of energy in the modern day from a variety of perspectives, including socially, politically and economically as well as the use of energy in global geo-politics.

The Field Study provides you with an opportunity to examine the practicalities of making changes to the UK’s complex energy structure and enables you to research and analyse energy challenges, identify the key UK energy participants and to consider the realities of energy needs.

The Dissertation is an opportunity to carry out independent research in a specialist area in which you are interested, and which has been agreed with a supervisor and your degree tutor. You will be expected to write a literature review, collect data by the means of fieldwork, laboratory work or from published sources, conduct data analysis and facilitate a discussion on your findings.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Anthropology of Global Health
  • Society, Health and Wellbeing
  • Interrogating Ethnography
  • Thinking Anthropologically
  • Understanding Society and Culture
  • Renewable Energy Law
  • Renewable Energy Technologies 4 
  • Future Vehicles 4 
  • Electrical Energy Conversion 4 
  • Risk, Science and Communication
  • Innovation and Technology Management
  • Advanced Studies in Anthropology, Art, and Experience 
  • Advanced Studies in Mediterranean Connections
  • Advanced Studies in the Social Anthropology of Hormones 
  • Advanced Studies in the Anthropology of Sport 
  • Advanced Studies in Anthropological Skills for Climate Change Survival 
  • Advanced Studies in Capitalism in Ruins
  • Advanced Studies in the Anthropology of Data and Quantification
  • Advanced Studies in Power and Governance 
  • Advanced Studies in Violence and Memory 
  • Advanced Studies in Food Security, Nutrition and Sustainable Livelihoods
  • Advanced Specialised Aspects in Social Anthropology
  • A language module offered by the Centre for Foreign Language Studies


The course consists of two terms of teaching, during which you will be introduced to a range of research questions and methods.

Teaching methods include a combination of interactive lectures, seminars, workshops, field studies and field trips, in addition to one-to-one dissertation supervision. Lectures present key information, with follow-up seminars giving you the chance to further develop the content through your own study work as well as group discussion and debate.

Your dissertation will involve the design, development and implementation of an independent research project chosen with guidance from your supervisor.

The MSc includes on average 6-8 hours of formal teaching and learning contact per week, supported by independent study, and you are also expected to attend weekly departmental research seminars.


Assessment is carried out throughout the course and is rigorous in nature, with your academic performance assessed by a mixture of assignment and project work. You will also complete a dissertation, which is a significant piece of work on a subject of particular interest chosen with guidance and support from your tutor.

Entry requirements

A minimum 2:1 Honours degree from a UK institution (or the overseas equivalent) in a relevant subject. References play an important part in the admissions process.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £12,500 per year
EU students £26,500 per year
Island students £12,500 per year
International students £26,500 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £6,900 per year
EU students £14,600 per year
Island students £6,900 per year
International students £14,600 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


Our anthropology postgraduates are well-placed to build on the research-led teaching the department offers. Many continue their academic careers by carrying out further research into the complex and diverse nature of humanity.

Durham courses develop a depth of practical skills and knowledge about understanding behaviour and society that are hugely applicable to the workplace environment and are highly sought after by employers in the UK and internationally.

Such attributes and qualities are easily transferable to a range of stimulating and rewarding professional careers. Our postgraduates have secured roles in development, health, government, policy, social research, culture, heritage, consultancy, education and media.

Recent postgraduates have moved into roles with employers that include Save the Children, HM Prison Service, Civil Service, Durham University, VSO, Office for National Statistics, National Graduate Development Programme (the local authority graduate scheme) and non-governmental organisations such as Concern Universal and Kenwa.

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


The Department of Anthropology is one of the largest among UK universities and one of only a handful covering Social Anthropology, Evolutionary Anthropology and Anthropology of Health.

This broad subject range is reflected in the flexibility of the Masters learning structure that makes it possible to choose advanced specialist courses to suit career or research aspirations. A research-led approach to teaching means that course content is as relevant and contemporary as it is informed by the latest developments in the subject area. 

Learning is delivered by subject specialists who are world experts in their particular field, be it energy use, sustainable development, the evolution of brain and cognition, aesthetics, primatology, global health and sleep. 

At Durham, the essential skills and knowledge in anthropology that we nurture are also developed through practical learning. We offer you the opportunity to join an active research group and, supported by expert staff, undertake world-class research that will ultimately prepare you for your future career.

We are proud to say that we produce some of the most innovative research taking place in contemporary anthropology. We are equally proud of the inclusive and supportive community that you will join in the Department, offering a stimulating and rewarding environment in which to work.


  • Top 30 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • Top 10 in The Complete University Guide 2024 and The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024
  • 6th in The Guardian University Guide 2024


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)


In keeping with our vision to offer research-led teaching, the Department provides a wide range of state-of-the-art facilities to support postgraduate research projects and programmes.

These include the Behavioural and Ecological Physiology Laboratory, the Physical Activity Laboratory and the South Africa Field Station as well as the award-winning Durham Infancy and Sleep Centre Laboratory.

We are the location for one of the country’s best collections for palaeoanthropological and morphometric research in biological anthropology and have a material culture collection of over 2,000 objects from around the world.

The Department of Anthropology is housed in the Dawson Building, which is conveniently located next to the main library, and close to lots of other departments and university services.

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

Similar courses

Global and Planetary Health - MSc

Program Code: L6KA07
Start: September 2024
Global and Planetary Health

Medical Anthropology - MSc

Program Code: L6K507
Start: September 2024
Medical Anthropology

Research Methods (Anthropology) - MA

Program Code: L6K307
Start: September 2024
Research Methods (Anthropology)

Socio-Cultural Anthropology - MA

Program Code: L6K107
Start: September 2024
Socio-Cultural Anthropology