MA Culture.Materials.Design

Looking to build your skills at the interface of design & anthropology?
A one-year Masters course in anthropology & archaeology, at UCL (University College London).
– Design anthropology
– The anthropology of materials
– Ethnography
For social scientists who wish to work on and with design and designers; for designers, engineers, architects, and heritage practitioners who wish to build sociocultural and people skills.

The New MA in Culture.Materials.Design
The material world is a world of social potential. Anthropologists should be better equipped to engage with materials and objects through ethnographic, critical, presentational and collaborative skills.
This is the core vision behind the new anthropology and archaeology MA in Culture, Materials & Design which has launched this year. Most anthropologists are very good at analysing and interpreting material culture and objects, but poor at actually working with things. Increasingly, however, material culture specialists in anthropology and archaeology want to actually work physically with objects and materials, as a vehicle for a hands-on approach to society and culture. This is happening in many contexts and places, from multinational hi-tech companies to architectural practices, fashion consultancies, to art installations, to museums and heritage organisations. Sometimes a person is trained with design-like skills, such as someone from a design, art, fashion, media or architectural background. In other cases, the work is collaborative, where a social scientist needs to work alongside other kinds of professional.
In parallel with the rising interest in design and designing in various domains, the material world is also changing. We live in a world of materials, new hi-tech materials, sustainable materials, and rediscovered old materials. To see a world composed of materials is to recognise how objects can be worked with, re-shaped, discomposed into component materials and recomposed into new objects. Adobe, silk, hemp, timber, bamboo, each evoke cultural responses, textures, and the invitation to engage and shape material things according to material properties.
The new MA in Culture, Materials and Design is a crossroads. Some students come from a social science background, but wish to become more hands-on, or have a special interest in a material or materials. Others come from backgrounds in fields such as design, art, architecture or engineering, but want to learn ways of working with people and communities better. We do not ‘do’ design in the MA, but we aim to gain group-working and presentational skills which enable people to work alongside designers, artists, architects, curators, engineers and scientists.
Please get in touch with the coordinator Dr Adam Drazin ( for more information about the programme.