MA in Applied Anthropology & Community & Youth Work

  • Length
    1 year full-time or 2 years part-time
  • Department
    Anthropology, Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies
  • Funding available

Course overview

Professionally validated by the National Youth Agency, this programme brings together community development and youth work practice with the research methods and theoretical preoccupations of anthropology.

This programme is fully endorsed by the National Youth Agency for pay and qualification purposes.* 

*Please note that this degree is currently subject to NYA revalidation

This MA is the first of its kind in the country, combining academic and professional qualifications. It is aimed at students who wish to pursue a career in youth and community work and who need a professional qualification. 

Taught jointly by the Departments of Anthropology, and Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies, the programme reflects the common concerns of lecturers in both disciplines.

Established in 1992, it is the first of three pathways, with an additional MA in Applied Anthropology and Community Development launched in 2012 and an MA in Applied Anthropology and Community Arts launched in 2015. The three pathways entail different placements but are taught together, providing much opportunity for exchange of ideas and collaboration amongst students.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Dr Pauline von Hellermann (Department of Anthropology) or Dr Kalbir Shukra (Department of Social and Therapeutic Studies)

Modules & structure


The MA combines an academic programme of lectures, seminars and tutorial assignments with practical experience.

Modules are taken over one academic year if you are studying full-time, and two years if you are studying part-time (part-time study only available to home/EU students).

Full-time students attend on Tuesdays and Thursdays and spend the rest of the week on fieldwork placements and library studies.

Part-time students attend on Thursdays in one year and Tuesdays in the other and spend some of the week on fieldwork placements and library studies

The Department of Anthropology teaches two of the core components of your degree: Contemporary Social Issues and Anthropological Research Methods.

  • The Contemporary Social Issues module runs through the Autumn and Spring Term, with lectures and student-led seminars alternating on a weekly basis. In the autumn it explores key analytical concepts in anthropology and related social sciences relevant to youth and community work, such as class, gender, race and culture. The Spring Term addresses more specific contemporary social issues affecting communities and young people, such as transnationalism, mental health, gentrification and new media. The module is assessed by a take-home exam in May.
  • Anthropological Research Methods is taught in the Spring Term. Here, you will become familiar with ethnographic research and writing. Through literature and practical research exercises (five days of fieldwork is attached to this module), you will learn about different methods of data collection including surveys, in-depth interviews, participant observation and participatory research. It combines weekly lectures and seminar-based work with the completion of a small individual project in the second term. Assessment is by essay, combining project material with theoretical literature.

In addition we strongly encourage all students, in particular those without a background in anthropology, to sit in on other MA option courses offered by the anthropology department, such as Anthropological Theory, Anthropology of Development, Anthropology of Violence, Anthropology of Art and Anthropology and the Environment.

The Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies runs the three fieldwork placements, each of which is supported by seminars, lectures, workshops and tutorials. 

  • Fieldwork I: Perspectives and Approaches (22 days practice)

In this module you explore key themes, principles, values and competing perspectives underlying youth work and community development. The value of experiential learning approaches and critical pedagogy in informal learning and community development are explored alongside group work principles, processes and theories. You consider your own values and reflect on your practice perspective. 

  • Fieldwork 2: Critical Practice (25 days practice)

In this module you critically analyse the changing context of community development and youth work practice, develop as critically reflective practitioners and learn how to recognise and challenge discrimination and oppression. Key themes include ethical dilemmas faced in practice, youth participation and methods of engaging communities with a view to facilitating ‘empowerment’. 

  • Fieldwork 3: Management, Enterprise and Development (30 days practice plus five days observations)

This module advances critical understanding of the management of projects, staff and resources, the legal context of community and youth work, how to produce funding bids, prepare budgets and grapple with the issues and processes involved in developing a social enterprise as well as monitoring and evaluation.  

All three modules are assessed by a fieldwork report written by the student and a report by the placement supervisor. Overall, at least 50% of all fieldwork must be face-to-face with the 13-19 year age group. 

  • The dissertation presents the culmination of your work, in that it is here that you apply anthropological methods and theories to a specific issue relevant to youth work that you are interested in. It is taught jointly by both departments.

Please note that it is possible to exit with a postgraduate diploma, also fully endorsed by the National Youth Agency, if you do not wish to move onto the dissertation.

Download the programme specification, relating to the 2017-18 intake. If you would like an earlier version of the programme specification, please contact the Quality Office.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.


Anthropology at Goldsmiths is ranked: 1st in the UK for effective teaching* 6th in the UK for the quality of our research** 30th in the world for this subject area***


Investigate a variety of fascinating areas that have real relevance to modern life.

As a department we’re interested in pushing the discipline forward. We’re known for pioneering new fields including visual anthropology and the anthropology of modernity. And we tackle other contemporary issues like urban planning, development, emotions and aesthetics, and new social movements.

Find out more about the Department of Anthropology.

*Guardian University Guide League Tables 2017
**Research Excellence Framework 2014, Times Higher Education research intensity subject rankings
***QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017


The Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies
has human relationships at its heart

Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies

You’ll benefit from the wealth of experience of our staff and their commitment to ensuring that you’ll leave us as a reflective, research-minded professional.

We offer programmes in Community Studies, Social Work, and Therapeutic Studies.

Our degrees are informed by our commitment to social justice and applied practices – whether you want to:

  • understand and challenge the ways that vulnerable individuals and groups are disadvantaged and marginalised
  • become a social worker, community and youth worker, therapist or counsellor
  • change people’s lives through dance, drama and music

You’ll benefit from the wealth of experience of our staff and their commitment to ensuring that you’ll leave us as a reflective, research-minded professional.

Find out more about the Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies.


Skills & careers

Increasing employment prospects are central to this programme.

Our graduates find work directly or indirectly related to the disciplines relatively quickly after graduating, or even while on the programme. The majority of our students gain work in youth work or community work. Examples of recent graduate employment include:

  • Full-time health youth worker for a London Borough, leading on LGBTQ awareness and homophobic bullying
  • Community Centre based youth worker
  • Mentoring and Befriending Co-ordinator at a civil society equalities organisation
  • Community Development Worker in a social work team in Hong Kong

Some seek and gain work in a wide range of other settings, often shaped by the particular interests that they develop during their time with us, such as working with refugees or with disability groups. Others join social enterprises to bid for contracts, join newly developing cooperatives or established NGOs in the UK and abroad.

We have many alumni who have gone on to teaching at university themselves. One of our former students who is now a senior lecturer fed back:

“Studying on the Applied Anthropology, Youth and Community Work Masters provided me with an experience and opportunity to validate 20 years of practice and to consider a wide range of theoretical and disciplinary perspectives. Immediately this impacted on my ability to better articulate a more nuanced and evidence-based understanding of the context that surrounds practice. Before completing the MA I was promoted to a management post, overseeing six trainee community development posts, and three senior workers (the obvious impact of the course on my work was specifically highlighted during post-interview feedback)... It is clear to me that the course delivered positive outcomes in terms of career progression.”

Students from the past recommend the programme to others and recognise the combination of disciplines as unique:

“Put simply, I honestly believe I would not have got any of my three jobs since completing the course in 2003 without the MA. This is mostly reputation. The course has a cachet amongst managers in the voluntary sector, and the assumption is that students are able not only to do development work but also to do it in the right way, with values and processes embedded.”


Placement experiences and networks developed while on the programme often produce new job opportunities. As one recent graduate explained:

“I actually managed to find paid employment as a result of making a good impression during my second placement. My third placement was a job that I was able to progress effectively in and was a real step up in terms of experience and responsibility. I eventually became a line manager there, and was working on a payment by results programme, which really reflected the new political climate. It also made for a very interesting and topical research essay that I scored really well on. I know that employers look upon my CV and applications favourably due to the fact that I have an MA in Community and Youth Work from Goldsmiths.”

Student profiles


"This degree is one of a kind!"

"After spending years volunteering with young people from all backgrounds and five years working in an international development charity on youth programmes, I decided to take the plunge and do a Masters while gaining a recognised qualification in youth work. The MA in Applied Anthropology, Community and Youth Work is one of a kind. It balances academic study alongside three vocational placements which give the opportunity to experience a unique blend of theory and real practice.

Studying this course at Goldsmiths has equipped me to work with all young people, challenge my practice and challenge social inequality. I’ve also met really inspiring speakers and professionals along the way - this programme includes bringing in speakers from across the sector to hear the latest in practice and be at the forefront of community and youth work. Being able to engage in debates and critical discussions with like-minded course students was a great experience as everyone was able to bring their expertise to each lecture. The lectures were inspiring, collaborative and challenging, constantly finding ways to push boundaries, challenge discourses and ultimately develop youth and community work practice.

I’m now working for two youth centres in London. At one I'm working with homeless young people and the other with young people at risk of gang involvement. Each day is different - I can be supporting a young woman into refuge accommodation or young refugees new to London to emergency shelter or helping young people at risk of violence cope with conflict or support them into employment. I love the diversity - no two days are the same!

Goldsmiths is a great university to be a student; there is a diverse range of people from all backgrounds and lots happening on campus all the time. The course has a great reputation and I can honestly say that it definitely meets it!"


Having successfully completed the course, I have seen myself develop academically and professionally beyond any limits I had previously imagined.

After years of putting young people first and learning through practice, I felt that it was time to work on developing myself and I knew that this MA would be the best place to start. Throughout the two years I found that studying at Goldsmiths gave me the unique opportunity to reflect on my practice and values whilst also recognising the need to navigate around the complicated youth work policy landscape.

From the onset, our lecturers and tutors encouraged creative thought, challenged our intrinsic beliefs and supported us to develop holistically as practitioners. I found my learning to be enriched by the diversity of the students on the course and also the wider emphasis placed on collaborative learning. I was always humbled by the opportunity to learn from students whose careers were just starting out, as well as those whose experience far surpassed mine. No suggestion or question was insignificant nor one too profound - each interaction gave room for us to critique our understanding of the sector that we were so passionate about.

Having successfully completed the course, I have seen myself develop academically and professionally beyond any limits I had previously imagined. I found new ways to harness my professional knowledge, experience and creativity and acquired the confidence to keep striving for exemplary youth work.

Roxi was awarded the Paul Hendrich Prize for the MA Applied Anthropology and Community and Youth Work/Development dissertation that most addresses issues of social engagement and in particular inequality.

Lama Choufani

I really enjoyed the MA in Applied Anthropology, Community and Youth Work at Goldsmiths.

The programme offers an interesting synthesis of multidisciplinary theory and practice while particularly engaging anthropological perspectives. It was a real pleasure to join my peers and educators in group work and critical discussions on contemporary political and social issues. I learnt a great deal from their personal and professional experiences and knowledge in the process.

Lama was awarded the Paul Hendrich Prize in 2014.

See more profiles for this programme

Entry requirements

You should have an undergraduate degree of at least second class standard in the social sciences or another appropriate subject, with some experience of community and youth work. You should have at least one year of full-time, or part-time equivalent, work experience prior to starting the MA. If you don't have this level of experience, you may be interested in the MA in Applied Anthropology & Community Development pathway

Experience can include paid or unpaid work; voluntary, community and youth work in organisations; and relevant informal work.

You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.

DBS checks

If we make you an offer to study on this programme, we will ask you to complete an application for an Enhanced Disclosure Certificate from the DBS. Please note there will be a fee of £56 for all DBS applications; we will send you further information about payment with your offer. You can find more information about this on our fitness to train pages

Fitness to train
You'll need to meet fitness to train criteria to be considered for this programme.

Equivalent qualifications
We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us.

For this programme we require:

IELTS 6.5 with a 6.5 in writing

If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

How to apply

You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system. 

Before submitting your application you’ll need to have:

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
  • The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
  • personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online

          Please see our guidance on writing a postgraduate statement

  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory)
    • A work experience report. This work experience report should be up to 1,000 words about recent personal experience of working or volunteering in a Community and/or Youth Work setting. It should outline this recent work experience, consisting of a brief description of the agency or project, role within the agency, the responsibilities carried and actual work done. You should outline the reflections on learning gained from the work experience.

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

When to apply

We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September. 

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place that is conditional on you achieving a particular qualification. 

Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.

If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an earlier application deadline. 

Selection process

Admission to many programmes is by interview, unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally, we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application and qualifications alone.

DBS checks

If we make you an offer to study on this programme, we will ask you to complete an application for an Enhanced Disclosure Certificate from the DBS. Please note there will be a fee of £56 for all DBS applications; we will send you further information about payment with your offer. You can find more information about this on our fitness to train pages

Find out more about applying.

Fees, funding & scholarships

Find out more about tuition fees.

Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.


Commonwealth Council Scholarship

This programme is now eligible for a Commonwealth Council Scholarship, which provides full tuition fees, living costs, airfares and allowances to one postgraduate Masters student from a developing country. The scholarship is jointly funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) and Goldsmiths.

Aziz Scholarship

This programme is eligible for an Aziz scholarship. Find out more about how to apply

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