Social Anthropology

Why choose Girton?

Both the history of Girton, and its enduring unique characteristics make this College an obvious place to study contemporary social anthropology.

As the first UK institution to admit women to higher education, Girton has always been committed to equality; to giving a voice to all. These values underpin the relevance of social anthropology in a rapidly changing world, which demands new ways of thinking about social relationships in both local and global contexts.

The college not only provides a supportive environment for all its students, but by fostering a strong sense of social cohesion it provides a context conducive to debate across all disciplines. This serves social anthropology students particularly well: perspectives from students taking other subject areas are an invaluable resource for a degree like social anthropology which calls for critical engagement across a broad range of topics.

Reflecting the broader qualities of the college, Social Anthropology students at Girton form a very friendly and cohesive community, providing both social and academic support for each other.

Undergraduate information

Social Anthropology is all about thinking through the perspectives of other people, whether they are from very different or apparently similar cultural backgrounds. It is a subject that eschews right or wrong answers – instead, it encourages students to think about questions and responses from varied standpoints, sometimes challenging their own preconceptions. It draws on a wide range of social theory, but is always committed to apply these to real life examples, wherever they may be.

Anthropology at Cambridge is one of the world’s premier departments for both teaching and research, and is the largest department in the University’s Faculty of Human, Social and Political Science.

It is not necessary to complete original fieldwork as part of an Anthropology degree. However, being in the field is part of the excitement of the subject and many undergraduates choose to write a dissertation, relishing the opportunity to engage in some first hand data collection.

In addition to the Haddon Library, which is the University’s dedicated library for the subject, the College Library has an excellent social anthropology collection, reflecting is long-standing commitment to the discipline.

Graduate information

The Social Anthropology Division of the University has one of the most thriving PhD and Masters/MPhil student communities in the country, reflecting a wide range of geographical and topic-based areas.

In addition to the taught components of your course and your own independent study there are a number of different weekly research seminars you can attend, where an impressive range of anthropologists from all over the world come to present their work and invite discussion

For full details of courses and how to apply please see the Division of Social Anthropology website.

Research and postgraduate students are admitted to the University by the Board of Graduate Studies. You must therefore apply centrally and not to the College. However, since you must be admitted to a College, you can select Girton specifically your application form.

Career destinations

Many social anthropology students go on to work as researchers – either on applied research projects with charities (NGOs) or in university settings. Others, however, go on to careers as diverse and wide-ranging as the discipline itself encompasses; from working in museums, working in publishing or school teaching and the social services.

Undergraduate admissions at a glance

Social Anthropology can be studied via the new Human, Social & Political Sciences (HSPS) tripos


Tutorial and Admissions Office
+44 (0)1223 338972
+44 (0)1223 766673