Master of Science by Coursework in Visual, Material, and Museum Anthropology

  • 1. The Social Sciences Divisional Board shall elect for the supervision of the course a Standing Committee, namely the Teaching Committee of the School of Anthropology, which shall have power to arrange lectures and other instruction. The course director will be responsible to that committee.

  • 2. Candidates must follow a course of instruction in Visual, Material and Museum Anthropology for at least three terms, and will, when entering for the examination, be required to produce a certificate from their supervisor to this effect.

  • 3. Four papers will be taken to constitute Part I of the degree, as follows. Paper 1 will be examined by coursework essay; Paper 2 will be examined either by coursework essay or one three-hour paper; Paper 3 will be examined by a portfolio of reports (including notes) on trials of three research methods and a research proposal; Paper 4 will be examined by one three-hour paper. The dissertation will be taken to constitute Part II of the degree. A candidate who fails any of the component parts of the examination may re-take or re-submit that part of the examination on one occasion only. At the close of the written examinations, the examiners will publish a list of those who have satisfied them in Part I.

  • 4. Candidates will be required to submit written work, required for Papers 1 and 3, comprising an essay for Paper 1 and a research proposal (Paper 3(a)) and three copies of a portfolio of reports (including notes) on trials of three research methods (Paper 3(b)) for Paper 3; to present themselves for a written examination for Papers 2 and 4 (where relevant), and to submit three copies of a dissertation in prescribed form on an approved topic as defined below.

  • 5. The assessed written work will consist of:

    • (i) one essay of no more than 5,000 words for Paper 1 on the syllabus described in the Schedule; for Paper 1 a list of essay titles will be announced no later than Monday of the fourth week of Michaelmas Term. The essay, together with any associated non-textual materials, must be submitted electronically via WebLearn not later than noon of the Tuesday of the first week of Hilary Term; the essay and associated materials must be anonymous, accompanied by confirmation that it is the candidate's own work, and submitted in electronic file format; non-textual and multimedia materials shall not constitute more than fifteen minutes of viewing/reading time.

    • (ii) an outline proposal for the MSc dissertation research of no more than 2,500 words for Paper 3(a) on the syllabus described in the Schedule. A template will be provided for the proposal on Friday of eighth week of Hilary Term. The research proposal or essay, together with any associated non-textual materials, must be submitted electronically via WebLearn not later than noon of the Tuesday of the fifth week of Trinity Term; the essay and associated materials must be anonymous, accompanied by confirmation that it is the candidate's own work, and submitted in electronic file format; non-textual and multimedia materials shall not constitute more than fifteen minutes of viewing/reading time.

    • (iii) The research methods portfolio for Paper 3(b) must be delivered in hard copy not later than noon on the Tuesday of the fifth week of Trinity Term to the Chair of Examiners, M.Sc. in Visual, Material, and Museum Anthropology, c/o Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford. Non-print materials shall not constitute more than fifteen minutes of viewing/reading time in the case of video or multimedia submissions.

    • (iv) a dissertation of no more than 10,000 words, on a subject selected in consultation with the supervisor and approved by the Chair of Examiners. The proposed title of the dissertation together with a paragraph describing its scope and the supervisor's written endorsement, must be submitted to the Chair of Examiners by Tuesday of the fifth week of Trinity Term. Three typewritten copies of the dissertation, together with three copies of any associated non-print materials, must be delivered not later than noon of the last Wednesday in August in the year in which the examination is taken to the Chair of the Examiners, M.Sc. in Visual, Material, and Museum Anthropology, c/o Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford. The dissertation shall be provided with an abstract of up to 250 words, to be placed immediately after the title page. The word count shall be stated on the outside front cover of the thesis. Non-print materials shall not constitute more than fifteen minutes of viewing/reading time in the case of video or multimedia submissions.

  • 6. The written examination will consist of one three-hour paper for Paper 4 (Fundamental Concepts in Visual, Material and Museum Anthropology) on the syllabus described in the Schedule. Paper 2 (option) may be assessed either by one three-hour paper or by coursework essay. For those doing Paper 2 assessed by coursework essay, [For students starting from MT 2018: the essay must be submitted electronically via WebLearn not later than noon of the Tuesday of the second week of Trinity Term; the essay and any associated materials must be anonymous, accompanied by confirmation that it is the candidate’s own work, and submitted in electronic file format.][For students starting before MT 2018: three copies of the essay, together with three copies of any associated non-print materials, must be delivered not later than noon of Tuesday of the second week of Trinity Term to the Chair of Examiners, M.Sc. in Visual, Material, and Museum Anthropology, c/o Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford.]

  • 7. There will be no oral examination.

  • [For students starting before MT 2018: 8. The examiners may award a distinction for excellence in the whole examination.]

  • [For students starting before MT 2018: 9.][For students starting from MT 2018: 8.] In order to pass the degree, a student must pass all its assessed components. Where one or more components are failed, the student will be given the opportunity to re-sit or re-submit them once, as the case may be. Any subsequent award of the degree on successful completion of all the assessed components may be delayed by up to three terms, i.e. until the Examination Board next meets.

Schedule

Every candidate will be required to satisfy the examiners in four papers as follows, and a dissertation:

  • 1. Contemporary themes in Visual, Material, and Museum Anthropology

    Topics central to this paper include: the changing roles and meanings of artefacts over time; the legacies of anthropology's history in the present – with special reference to museums and material culture; issues of representation, politics and power; theoretical and methodological shifts in the analysis of material culture, museums and display; fieldwork, collecting, archival processes and other methodologies central to the production of anthropological knowledge. Case studies may focus on topics such as: visual culture (including photography, the internet, art and aesthetics); music and performance; museum ethics and relationships with 'source communities'; landscape and the built environment; religion, identity, and material culture; dress and body modification; mass production and trade; debates concerning tradition, modernity and authenticity; transnational cultural flows; the wider issues of cross-cultural investigation; phenomenological, semiotic and post-structuralist approaches to visual media and material culture; time, memory and perception; film and photographs as material culture; social uses and local practices of visual media use, including indigenous media and indigenous curation; professional visual media production; visual media and contemporary arts practices; image ethics; digital media practice; audience response and reception theory; art, performance, and display; detailed study of the work of one or more contemporary ethnographic filmmaker, artist, or photographer. [Note: some topics may vary slightly from year to year].

  • 2. Option paper

    Candidates must select one option paper from those taught each year for M.Sc. candidates at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology. Titles of options will be made known at the beginning of each academic year and candidates may select their option from any of Lists A, B, or C.

  • 3. Research Methods in Visual, and Material Anthropology and Museum Ethnography

    This paper focuses on visual, material, or museum-related anthropological theory and methods. The scope of this paper includes: fieldwork and data collection methods, visual and non-visual, including photo-, object- and film/video-elicitation; qualitative and quantitative techniques; cultural property and indigenous rights; preparing research proposals; museum display and design; ethical problems; curating exhibitions, artefacts and photographs; working with artists, curators, ‘culture brokers’ and ‘source communities’; elementary still photographic, video and digital multimedia production; exhibition design, analysis and presentation techniques.

  • 4. Fundamental Concepts in Visual, Material, and Museum Anthropology

    This paper focuses on anthropology’s distinctive contribution to understanding social and cultural form and process, and the role of human creativity within them, with particular reference to artefacts of material and visual culture, and to the collection, display, production, circulation and consumption of such artefacts. Attention will be paid to the subject’s history and its place within broader concerns of politics, colonialism, and culture; issues of power and identity in relation to visual, material and museum anthropology; the formation of museum collections and visual archives; and also to the place of the socio-cultural in constituting such ‘natural’ phenomena as ecology, landscape, and population. The scope of this paper includes the following topics: the history and development of anthropological photography and object analysis, of documentary and ethnographic film, and of visual display in and beyond museums; an introduction to film and photographic theory, to material culture theory and to anthropological theories of representation, exchange and consumption; the Colonial archive and Colonial documentary practices; the ethnography of film, photography and other visual representational practices.