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Degree type


Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

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Course details

Our MSc in Global and Planetary Health offers an in-depth study into the challenging and complex issues which have emerged around global health and environmental sustainability and are making a real impact on the conditions and resilience of daily life across the globe.

This course will be perfect if you are a social scientist and you want to broaden your academic interests or you are from another field, such as natural science or engineering, and you want a better understanding of the social context and consequences of issues such as climate change and conflicts over natural resources.

You will study core modules on the history, theories and practices of health and healthcare at local, national and global levels as well as resilience, the environment and the socio-politics of energy and their links to the emerging subject of planetary health. 

A module on society, health and wellbeing will introduce key ideas if you don’t have a specialised social science and health background, and you will also be supported by a carefully curated induction programme to help you work in a cross-disciplinary fashion.

You will have the opportunity to follow specialised routes through the course by choosing from an extensive list of option modules drawn from the wider University. 

The MSc includes the choice of two forms of dissertation. The first enables you to carry out independent research into an agreed topic while the second is a vocational project which will be completed with a private, voluntary or public sector partner.

Course structure

Core modules:

Anthropology of Global Health examines the range of theoretical perspectives and approaches in medical anthropology that considers how health and illness are experienced and understood in society and how they would be applied to modern-day issues in global health.

Society, Energy, Environment and Resilience introduces anthropological and other social science perspectives in the study of relationships between people, the environment and the production and use of energy.

Planetary Health in Social Context provides a defining understanding of planetary health and encourages you to study and critique the current debates and issues it features such as climate change, emerging infectious diseases and population growth.

Plus either

The Dissertation is an independent research project based on a specialist area of your degree of particular interest, using the knowledge gained in the research methods modules. You will be expected to write a literature review, collect data through fieldwork, laboratory work or from published sources, conduct data analysis and be able to initiate discussion of your findings.


Vocational dissertation applies the skills and the methods learnt in core and optional modules to a vocational project on a subject devised in consultation with a partner in the private, voluntary or public sector. You will write a research diary and a consultancy-style report and ultimately acquire a high level of knowledge and understanding of a specialist sub-field of global and planetary health and its relationship to your topic. 

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Statistical Analysis in Anthropology
  • Fieldwork and Interpretation
  • Field Study
  • Context and Challenges in Energy and Society
  • Society, Health and Wellbeing
  • Anthropology and Development
  • Interrogating Ethnography
  • Thinking Anthropologically
  • Understanding Society and Culture
  • Advanced Studies in Anthropological Skills for Climate Change 
  • Advanced Studies in Anthropology of Tobacco
  • Advanced Studies in Capitalism in Ruins
  • Advanced Studies in Development, Conflict, and Crisis in The Lower Omo Valley
  • Advanced Studies in Power and Governance
  • Advanced Studies in The Anthropology of Health Inequality
  • Advanced Studies in Poison, Pollution, and The Chemical Anthropocene
  • Choice of modules from across other departments


Learning on this course includes a combination of structured taught sessions which are supported by independent study.

Lectures provide key information and guidance on understanding relevant theories and their application. This information is then expanded upon through reflection and debate, problem solving and case study, student-led presentations and classroom discussions.

Seminars require you to participate in the discussions on a particular topic having first gathered the appropriate information and prepared your analysis for presenting to the group.

Tutorials are held either individually or in small groups and focus on developing your individual skills such as study skills, communication skills, writing and essay or report structuring.

You will also be expected to carry out your own independent research outside of the learning framework that will give you the opportunity to develop your interest in a particular subject.

Other activities include a dissertation, completed either as independent research or with a vocational component and some modules incorporate field work and practical research.


Assessment takes place throughout the course, starting with an induction which will include an assessment of your academic abilities such as essay writing, bibliographic skills and quantitative analysis. 

Course activities are assessed by a mixture of essays, critical reviews, portfolios and project work. You will also complete a research or vocationally focused dissertation, which is a significant piece of work on a subject of particular interest chosen with guidance and support from your tutor.

Entry requirements

Normally a minimum 2:1 Honours degree from a UK institution (or the overseas equivalent) in a relevant subject. This requirement may be waived for applicants with particularly high levels of relevant practical or professional experience

Strength of personal statement, experience in a non-academic engagement with sustainability or development issues (whether salaried, volunteer or self-directed).

IELTS at least 6.5* (and with no component under 6*) or equivalent scores in an alternative accepted English language test. Details of alternative accepted tests and the requirements for your subject and level of study can be found here. In some cases, English language proficiency can also be evidenced in other ways. You can find further information regarding this, here.  

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £12,500 per year
EU students £26,500 per year
Island students £12,500 per year
International students £26,500 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £6,900 per year
EU students £14,600 per year
Island students £6,900 per year
International students £14,600 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities


Our anthropology postgraduates are well-placed to build on the research-led teaching the department offers. Many continue their academic careers by carrying out further research into the complex and diverse nature of humanity.

Durham courses develop a depth of practical skills and knowledge about understanding behaviour and society that are hugely applicable to the workplace environment and are highly sought after by employers in the UK and internationally.

Such attributes and qualities are easily transferable to a range of stimulating and rewarding professional careers. Our postgraduates have secured roles in development, health, government, policy, social research, culture, heritage, consultancy, education and media.

Recent postgraduates have moved into roles with employers that include Save the Children, HM Prison Service, Civil Service, Durham University, VSO, Office for National Statistics, National Graduate Development Programme (the local authority graduate scheme) and non-governmental organisations such as Concern Universal and Kenwa.

For further information on career options and employability, student and employer testimonials and details of work experience and study abroad opportunities, please visit our employability pages.

Department information


The Department of Anthropology is one of the largest among UK universities and one of only a handful covering Social Anthropology, Evolutionary Anthropology and Anthropology of Health.

This broad subject range is reflected in the flexibility of the Masters learning structure that makes it possible to choose advanced specialist courses to suit career or research aspirations. A research-led approach to teaching means that course content is as relevant and contemporary as it is informed by the latest developments in the subject area. 

Learning is delivered by subject specialists who are world experts in their particular field, be it energy use, sustainable development, the evolution of brain and cognition, aesthetics, primatology, global health and sleep. 

At Durham, the essential skills and knowledge in anthropology that we nurture are also developed through practical learning. We offer you the opportunity to join an active research group and, supported by expert staff, undertake world-class research that will ultimately prepare you for your future career.

We are proud to say that we produce some of the most innovative research taking place in contemporary anthropology. We are equally proud of the inclusive and supportive community that you will join in the Department, offering a stimulating and rewarding environment in which to work.


  • Top 30 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • Top 10 in The Complete University Guide 2024 and The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024
  • 6th in The Guardian University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the Anthropology pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 45% of our research was rated as world-leading (REF 2021)


In keeping with our vision to offer research-led teaching, the Department provides a wide range of state-of-the-art facilities to support postgraduate research projects and programmes.

These include the Behavioural and Ecological Physiology Laboratory, the Physical Activity Laboratory and the South Africa Field Station as well as the award-winning Durham Infancy and Sleep Centre Laboratory.

We are the location for one of the country’s best collections for palaeoanthropological and morphometric research in biological anthropology and have a material culture collection of over 2,000 objects from around the world.

The Department of Anthropology is housed in the Dawson Building, which is conveniently located next to the main library, and close to lots of other departments and university services.

More information on our facilities and equipment.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more

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