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Cultural and Social Anthropology

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M.A. Social and Cultural Anthropology

Name of the study programmeHide

Social and Cultural Anthropology

Duration / DegreeHide
  • 4 Semesters / 120 ECTS
  • Master of Arts (M.A.)
Start of studies / Application processHide
  • Summer and Winter Semester
  • Enrolment before the start of the semester is done directly via the website of the student administration office, where the documents necessary for enrolment are listed as well. The study and examination regulations of the master programme "Social and Cultural Anthropology" provide detailed information on admission, the course of studies, module areas and exams.

Prerequisites for entryHide
  • A bachelor's degree in Social Anthropology or in an equivalent course of study with a final grade of "good" or better
  • If applicants do not hold a degree of "good" or better, their aptitude is tested.
  • Applications have to be submitted by July 15th (winter semester) or January 15th (summer semester) in order to be reviewed if all admission requirements are met.
  • Language Proficiency: B2 German
Programme overviewHide

The master's programme "Social and Cultural Anthropology" follows up on the bachelor's programmes "Social Anthropology" and “African Culture & Society" at the University of Bayreuth or on other comparable bachelor's programmes. In contrast to the master's programme "African Culture & Society", which focuses strongly on regional studies, "Social and Cultural Anthropology" has a more general approach towards cultural science.
The whole programme is centered around a project which students work on during the course of their studies. In close cooperation with their lecturers, they prepare their own field research of a minimum of six weeks in a non-European country, conduct their research there and evaluate their results afterwards. Opportunities to engage in selected areas of social anthropology and to take part in courses of neighbouring disciplines as well as the chance to learn a new language or to deepen already existing skills complement the programme. This structure enables students to enlargen their professional knowledge and refine their abilities of theoretical reflexion by profoundly debating on specific topics and problem areas.

Students interested in an academic career especially benefit from the research-oriented nature of the programme as they can plan a longer anthropological field research as well which can later be used as a base for their PhD thesis, e.g. as part of Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS) and funded by the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments.


The programme's structure gives room for exceptional mentoring and helps students to develop their own field of interest by guidance of one or more lecturers.
It is divided into four stages:
1. Preparation
Throughout their entire first year, students prepare for their field research (courses K1, K2). This preparation refers firstly to the anticipated research region (general country studies, introduction to the ethnography of the region), secondly to central or subject-related anthropological research methods, and thirdly to the topic of the planned research project. The methodological preparation of the research stay is carried out jointly for all students of a given year; the content of the research is either developed in the group ("cohort") or individually, in the form of a "mentorship".
2. Field research
In the lecture-free period following the summer semester of the first academic year, students will conduct field research for at least six weeks. The research takes place either as a group under the guidance of an accompanying lecturer or is organized independently. The methodological aim of this research is the practical application of the acquired knowledge to anthropologic research practice. In terms of content, the empirical investigation
of the chosen research topic should lead to the writing of a master's thesis.
3. Follow-up of the field research
In the winter semester of the second year of study, the field research is analysed in a seminar. The aim is to evaluate and systematize the data collected and to dissect it in terms of content and importance (course K3). At the same time, students will develop a theoretical framework that will help them to interpret their ethnographic material and to embed it into further social anthropological debates.
4. Master's thesis
As part of their master's thesis, students of the master's programme "Social and Cultural Anthropology" are required to bring together the various areas they studied during their project and accompanying courses. In correlating those topics they ideally show that they have learned to illuminate research results in the field of tension between theory and empiricism. In this way, the final thesis integrates the various dimensions of social anthropological practice, and prepares students for their further activities in academic or non-academic fields.

Career prospectsHide

Successful graduates, especially after earning their PhD (e.g. as part of a doctoral program of the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies), have exciting prospects for academic work at universities and research institutions. In addition, they are highly qualified for projects involving international and intercultural cooperation thanks to their practical proficiencies acquired in field research. Graduates can also make valuable contributions to positions concerning diplomatic affairs, in public and media relations, or at international organisations.

Documents and links to the study programme (in German language)Hide

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