MA in Visual Anthropology

The MA in Visual Anthropology is designed for those with a background in anthropology who want to continue their studies through a unique combination of theory and visual practice.

About the department

1 year full-time or 2 years part-time.
If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline. Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants.

See our tuition fees.
Contact the department
Contact Prof Stephen Nugent
Visit us
Find out about how you can visit Goldsmiths at one of our open days or come on a campus tour.

It leaves the definition of visual anthropology wide open and considers various arguments about this sub-field, but also looks beyond immediate disciplinary concerns to enlarge the possibilities for a visual anthropology that's not only connected with the professional concerns of anthropologists, but also adequately presents anthropologically informed representations to other audiences.

The programme is convened and taught by Professor Stephen Nugent. Core modules are also taught with contributions from Dr Ricardo Leizaola, Dr Mao Mollona, Dr Roger Sansi-Roca, Professor Emma Tarlo and Dr Chris Wright.

It is taught through lectures/seminars and hands-on training in the use of digital camcorders, sound recording equipment, and video editing, and your final project is a 20-minute video.

The central aim of the programme is the production of visual work within a critical and conceptual framework provided by anthropology.

Through compulsory core modules you are introduced to a range of topics which currently include: the anthropology of art; visual anthropology; ethnographic film and cinema studies; and a general anthropological consideration of representation.

Our dedicated production facilities include digital camcorders, a variety of sound recording equipment and Final Cut Pro. You will produce a series of practical projects throughout the year.

What you study

You will study five core modules:

  • Anthropology of Art I
  • Anthropology of Art II
  • Critique, Theory and Representation
  • Ethnographic Film and Cinema Studies
  • Video Production

An introduction to the MA in Visual Anthropology:



Some examples of student work produced on the programme:


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Essays/reports for theory modules and one two-week take-home paper. Practice elements are assessed on the basis of training projects; the final project (a video of no more than 20 minutes’ length) is accompanied by a written report.

Applying and entrance requirements

You can apply directly to Goldsmiths via the website by clicking the ‘apply now’ button on the main programme page.

Before submitting your application you’ll need to have: 

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments.
  • The email address details of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic soft copy of your academic reference.
  • A personal statement. This can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online.
  • If available, an electronic soft copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory).

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. 

If you're applying for funding you may be subject to an application deadline. Find out more about funding opportunities for UK/EU students and international students. 

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

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.

Entrance requirements

You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least second class standard in a relevant/related subject. 

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.

We also accept a wide range of international equivalent qualifications, which can be found on our country-specific pages. If you'd like more information, please contact the Admissions Office.


Due to the popularity of this programme we ask you for a deposit of £450 to secure any offer made to you after applying for the programme. You will only be required to provide a deposit if you are offered a place and will be deducted from your tuition fee when you enrol on the course.  Please note that this deposit is non-refundable unless you fail to meet the conditions set out in your offer.

English language

If your first language isn't English, you need to demonstrate the required level of English language competence to enroll and study on our programmes. 

Please check our English Language requirements for more information.

Find out more about applying 

Contact us 

Get in touch via our online form


+44 (0)20 7919 7766

International (non-EU)

+44 (0)20 7919 7702

Core modules

Code Module title Credits
AN71004B Anthropology of Art I 30 credits

Modern Anthropology has had an uneasy relation with art and with objects and images in general. The reaction against the museum anthropology of the 19th century led to a certain iconoclasm in the discipline. Yet a hundred years later, the interest of anthropologists on art, and conversely, of artists in Anthropology, is blooming. But this is not so contradictory: in fact modern anthropology and modern art are very close from their origin, in their critical reflection on the relation of images, objects and persons. In this module, we will discuss first the questions that the anthropological tradition has opened up on the relation of things, images and persons. Is the value of objects a human construction? Do objects have agency? Are images, representations? What are the arguments for idolatry and iconoclasm? All these questions are necessary preludes to understand the anthropological approach to art in the modern world. They will enable us to ask what characterises 'art' as a form of social value in our society, as well as how objects and images from other societies are valued as 'art'.

AN71031C Anthropology of Art II 30 credits

This module is designed to offer students the opportunity to conduct a short piece of research in the field broadly defined as the Anthropology of Art. Picking up on theoretical issues introduced in Anthropology of Art I, you will be expected to select your own topic for fieldwork. You may wish to analyse the practice of a particular artist (especially one whose work relates to ethnography in some way), concentrate on aspects of art institutions in London (techniques of display, audiences, exhibitions), or on lives of art objects (their production, consumption, circulation, interpretation). Key issues include: aesthetics and the culture industry: the role of the avant-garde: Frankfurt School critical theory: popular art, resistance and accommodation: the rise of film criticism: museums and collecting.

AN71083A Anthropology Video Production 60 credits

This module will train students in the use of camcorders (diverse formats), sound-recording, lighting, scripting/story-boarding and digital editing. During terms 1 and 2, students will be required to produce short practice videos (2-4 minutes) supervised by members of staff and will keep production diaries to document their acquisition of skills. While MA degrees normally result in dissertations, the key assessed artefact of the MA Visual Anthropology programme is a film. Accompanying this, however, will be an essay/report of 5,000 words in which a candidate will provide a supporting textual account in the form of a catalogue.

AN71041B Critique, Theory and Representation 30 credits

This module looks at various ways in which anthropology has engaged with images, in terms of the production of narrowly anthropological research material through ethno-photography and ethnographic film as well as in terms of a broader set of interdisciplinary concerns with theories of representation, modern media, translation and political advocacy. The ethnographic project of modern anthropology has been a hybrid scientific/literary enterprise and visual complements, film in particular, have provided links both to cognate fields and non-specialist audiences. The module is grounded in a wide-ranging literature that informs the history of anthropological and social theoretical concerns.

AN71032B Ethnographic Film and Cinema Studies 30 credits

This module consists of screenings followed by seminars. The emphasis will be on key feature, documentary and ethnographic films, from Nanook of the North (Flaherty) to Burden of Dreams (Blank) to Blade Runner (Scott). A focal theme of the seminars will be the examination of the 'language of film'.

Programme specification

To find out more about this degree, including details about the ways you'll be assessed and information about our marking criteria, you can download the programme specification.

Student profiles


MA in Visual Anthropology

"Goldsmiths has fulfilled my expectations as being an institution that does not rein in idiosyncrasy and freedom of expression. However, the syllabus is focussed and has clear direction within the various modules. Thus it has been possible to pursue my own interests, while benefiting from the specialised concerns of the teaching staff."


MA in Visual Anthropology


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MA in Visual Anthropology


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MA in Visual Anthropology


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The programme will prepare you for practice-based careers in the commercial film and media industry and further academic and practice-based research degrees.

Graduate profiles


MA in Visual Anthropology

Hikaru graduated in 2006 and now works as an independent documentary filmmaker.


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MA in Visual Anthropology


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Student work

A sample of documentaries produced by graduates from the 2011-2012 academic year.

An Artist in Exile - Itab Azzam (SY)

A portrait of Esam: an exiled Syrian artist living in London.


Broken Vows - Kaska Butkiewicz-Phuntsok (PL)

An intimate story of the ex Tibetan Buddhist monks who broke their vows.


Only Three Cents - Alex Parkyn-Smith (UK)

A look at Nairobi public transport exploring the lives of the people working in it. (Kenya)


Further samples of student work

Visit the MA in Visual Anthropology Film and Photo Archive for further samples of student work.

Content last modified: 29 Aug 2014

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