School of Divinity, History and Philosophy - U. of Aberdeen

Social Anthropology of Religion

School of Divinity, History and Philosophy - U. of Aberdeen
In Aberdeen

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Important information

Typology Master
Location Aberdeen (Scotland)
Duration 12 Months
  • Master
  • Aberdeen (Scotland)
  • Duration:
    12 Months

The programme will: Give students the opportunity to specialise in this important area of Anthropology and Religious Studies. Give graduates of the social and political sciences an in-depth understanding of the ethnographic study of religion. Provide in-depth research skills training in research design, ethics, surveys and interview skills. Prepare students for future doctoral research in the area.
Suitable for: Those with a social sciences background seeking a specifically focused postgraduate taught degree, or who wish to continue on to research degrees.

Facilities (1)
Where and when



Aberdeen (Aberdeen City)
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King'S College, University Of Aberdeen, AB24 3UB


On request

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· Requirements

Normally a good second-class Honours degree in Religious Studies, Anthropology or Sociology, or its equivalent. In addition, students whose mother tongue is not English require IELTS 6.5.

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Course programme

Most studies of religion depend almost wholly on textual sources – the Bible, the Qur’an, the Buddhist scriptures, or the writings of religious scholars and luminaries - often at some remove from the present-day existence of ordinary religious practitioners. By contrast, the Social Anthropology of Religion emphasises ethnography - knowledge gained through practical fieldwork studies amongst living religious communities – communities that are central to the social, political and economic world of the 21st century.

The MRes in the Social Anthropology of Religion is a taught programme which focuses on the anthropological study of religion in general, and the ethnographic study of religious traditions and communities in particular.

Teaching is in small groups, focusing on research-led issues by experts in the anthropology of religion. Students will be part of a vibrant postgraduate and research community that includes anthropological, theological and religious scholars.


The programme is divided into two half-sessions: during the first half-session, students are introduced to the methodological and theoretical ground of the anthropological study of religion; in the second, students have the opportunity to carry out specialised study and research by studying the anthropology of particular traditions in depth, and completing a dissertation on a topic of their choice (in consultation with their allocated supervisor).

The programme comprises the following courses:

Anthropological Theories of Religion
An in-depth and critical examination of key anthropological theories of religion and ritual.

Fieldwork Methods & Methodologies
Learn key research skills for the anthropological study of religious traditions: life-history analysis, interview and survey techniques, event ethnographies, etc. Introduction to explanatory methods and research design in the anthropological and ethnographic study of religion.

Philosophy and Methods of Research 1 and 2 in Social Anthropology, Ethnology and Cultural History.

Specialised Study Module
Students will choose between reading courses on the following areas of research specialisation within the School: Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism.

Students write a supervised dissertation on the Anthropology of Religion (20,000 words).


The taught courses will be assessed by coursework, by written examination, or by a combination of these, as prescribed for each course. The dissertation course will be assessed by submission of the dissertation. An oral examination may be held at the discretion of the Examiners. The degree of MRes shall not be awarded to candidates who fail to complete the dissertation at an appropriate standard, irrespective of their performance in other courses.


12 months, full-time.

Additional information

Contact person: Helena Thomas

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