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ISEK - Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies Social and Cultural Anthropology

für Prospective Students: The Master's Programme in Social and Cultural Anthropology in Zurich

Our department offers a Master's programme in social anthropology. In a nutshell, anthropologists study any type of human community, from Mongolian herders or Sahelian farmers to Hindu nationalists or punks in London. Their research strategy involves long-term fieldwork, allowing them to become properly familiar with people and their social lives. On the basis of detailed knowledge of communities and their everyday therein, anthropologists produce theory – in other words, generalisable insights about human social life.

Content of the Programme

In Zurich, MA students may study anthropology in English and/or German. The MA is a research-based programme. Students develop their own research topic and carry it out in one of three environments. You will do fieldwork, be it in Switzerland or beyond, or pursue your project within the research programme of the Ethnographic Museum. Alternatively, you can work primarily from archival texts in the library. This culminates in a Master’s thesis.

In the course of writing your thesis, you will develop a whole range of tools and skills in anthropological methods of data collection and data analysis, acquire in-depth knowledge about the region in which you choose to work, reflect on your own research from a variety of theoretical perspectives, discuss your projects with peers and mentors, engage in critical self-reflection and situate yourself and your project in their wider historical, societal and intellectual contexts.

Furthermore, the research focus of the study programme is supplemented by additional courses that will broaden your familiarity with world regions, making you knowledgeable in anthropological theory and methodology.

Download a detailed guide on the structure of the programme (PDF, 219 KB)

Research Foci at the Department

The department has developed special strengths in four world regions: Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia and South-East Asia. Much of the research focuses on three broad theoretical themes where we have evolved particular expertise:

  • Social Transformation and Development
  • Material Culture and Museum
  • Ethics, Religion, Knowledge

As one of the largest departments of social anthropology in the German-speaking countries, we conduct research on a broad variety of topics. Visit our research page to learn more about research activities at our Department.

The wide array of competences represented at our department enables us to supervise MA students in most fields of interest in anthropology, and to provide courses on an exceptionally broad range of topics.

Explore who who supervises MA students in Zurich

Have a look at the courses we offer in the MA programme

Familiarise yourself with research and teaching at the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich


You apply for the MA study programme at the Admission Office.

Please note that the Master's programme in Social Anthropology in Zurich is consecutive. Basic knowledge from the Bachelor's programme in Social Anthropology is required. If you have not yet acquired these, you will therefore receive requirements consisting of individual modules from the Bachelor's programme. The information on the expected prior knowledge can be found in the study regulations.

Studienordnung Major 90 Ethnologie (German)

Studienordnung Minor 30 Ethnologie (German)

Admission to the Master’s Programme


For more information, attuned to your personal interests and situation, please email Dr Jan Patrick Heiss, and, if you wish, make an appointment to speak to him in person.