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Study Anthropology in Australia

Applied Anthropology Macquarie University

Master of Applied Anthropology

  • Protesters claim a dam financed by international development loans risks destroying the traditional culture of a nomadic people
  • The failure of an internationally successful advertising campaign in a new market is blamed on cultural taboos
  • A court is told that cultural norms require the circumcision of a ten year-old immigrant girl

How do we analyse these claims about culture?

The Applied Anthropology program at Macquarie is one of the first in Australia that focuses on training current or future professionals to critically assess both cultural impacts and claims about them.


Based on the research areas of its members, the Department of Anthropology offers coursework units and research supervision that address the issues that face those who deal with "culture'in professional settings.

Traditionally, the focus of Applied Anthropology has been on social and cultural aspects of development and policy research, including social impact assessment, advisory work among Australian Aboriginal communities, and work with migrants and refugees. This remains an important sphere within which anthropologists are employed.

However, in recent years there has been a marked increase in interest in the cultural determinants of people's behaviour. Professionals working in a range of fields have been told that "culture matters', but they have not been told how.


The theoretical insights and research methodologies of anthropology provide an answer to this question. They offer both a critical understanding of "culture'as well as a unique hands-on research methodology.

Units offered every year

ANTH800 Issues in Applied Anthropology: Why does Culture Matter

This unit examines the uses of "culture'in professional settings at various levels, from the management of urban communities and interpersonal conflicts to the international strategies of corporations and governments. Students will develop a sensitivity to implicit assumptions about culture in the projects and claims they encounter; an ability to question these assumptions and claims and pay attention to the issues of power behind them; and a competence to apply a grid of practically oriented questions to specific projects that will facilitate culturally informed, context sensitive and productive outcomes.


ANTH801 Methodology in Local and Community Studies

This unit introduces methodological strategies used in community research in a practical learning-by-doing fashion. Quantitative strategies, such as questionnaire and survey methods, will be compared with qualitative ones, such as participant observation.The epistemological and ethical dimensions of methodology and the effects of political imperatives on the conduct of research will be discussed.

ANTH815 Development Theory and Practice

This unit introduces development studies by examining theories and practices that have dictated the nature of development assistance to the Third World over the past four decades. Using case studies, this unit considers key issues such as NGOs and commercial program management, gender, sustainable development, human rights, globalisation and mass media, emergency relief and Australia's aid policies.

ANTH816 Culture, Health and Disease

This unit critically examines the cultural and socio-economic dimensions of disease and health. Notions of disease causality and healing practices vary enormously across societies, knowledge of which is crucial to the field of international public health.We look at how anthropological knowledge and methods can be used in applied settings, for example, to improve communication between health practitioners and patients.We also address questions in critical medical anthropology such as: how do global inequalities and violence affect health in developing countries What larger social transformations accompany the rise of biomedicine, including recent biomedical technologies


ANTH821 Indigenous Interests and Identities

This unit examines policies and practices in relation to Australian Aboriginal community development in both remote and urban areas. Current federal and state policies in relation to welfare, health, land and legal issues will be discussed. Aboriginal viewpoints and the interaction of Aboriginal organisations with bureaucracies and welfare agencies will be examined.

ANTH840 Refugees and Resettlement

This unit will explore some of the main contemporary issues relating to forced migration. Through seminar discussions, presentations and students' assignments, we will examine the causes and consequences of forced migration, local and international strategies to "manage'the consequences of population movements, and anthropological attempts at explaining and understanding the refugee condition.

ANTH805 Migration and Transnationalism

This unit examines the changes that have occurred in the late (both receiving and sending) nation-state's understanding and management of migration and relate them to the changing view of migration by social scientists, particularly the rise of the transnationalist perspective. The unit will address two main issues of policy relevance: the methodological nationalism of social sciences that underpins migration management and the operationalisation of culture in discourses on integration.

ANTH811 Culture, Media and Development

This course introduces students to visual anthropology. This growing field within anthropology has two concerns: more broadly, the production and reception of images as cultural practices; and second the theory, history and practice of using images in ethnographic research. Using the facilities at the Anthropology Department's Ethnographic Media Lab, students shoot and edit a short video during the course of the semester. Based on readings, film screenings, and their own video projects, students explore the ethics and aesthetics of imaging cultural difference.

ANTH818 Anthropology of Aid, Human Rights and Intervention

This unit introduces some of the key issues and debates in human rights -universality and cultural relativism, group rights, and the right to development. It will also explore some of the challenges arising from the contest between human rights and culture, such as who represents the culture of a community, whether some issues are more likely than others to be defended on the basis of culture, and if so, when and how to intervene.

Admission Requirements

A Bachelor degree with a significant social science component (e.g. Anthropology, Sociology, Geography, Social Studies) from a recognised tertiary institution. Other tertiary qualifications together with relevant work experience may also be accepted.


International Students should contact Macquarie International, the University's international office. Email or visit:


Australian citizens, New Zealand citizens and Australian Permanent Residents apply through the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC). For further details visit:


Career Opportunities

Students of the Applied Anthropology program have gone on to careers in:

  • Government (urban planning, migration, community relations, public health and human services)
  • International and non-governmental organisations (such as AusAid, Oxfam, UNICEF, and the World Bank)
  • Corporations (advertising and marketing, human resources and workplace design)


The Applied Anthropology program offers three articulated qualifications: a Masters degree (36 credit points), which combines coursework with a substantial research project, as well as a Postgraduate Diploma (24 credit points), and Postgraduate Certificate (16 credit points).




Postgraduate Diploma

Postgraduate Certificate

Credit Points





March or August

March or August

March or August

Full-time Candidature

1.5 yrs (3 semesters)

1 yr (2 semesters)

0.5 yr (1 semester)


Internal (North Ryde campus)

Internal (North Ryde campus)

Internal (North Ryde campus)


Note: International students must study on a full-time basis.

Visit the MAA website:


Or contact:


Jovan Maud

Administrative Co-ordinator

Tel.: +61-2-9850 8095

Fax.: +61-2-9850 9391



Tuition Fees for Australian Students

Applied Anthropology is a Commonwealth-supported program (CSP). Australian and New Zealand citizens and Australian permanent residents will pay $AUD275 per credit point.


Australian citizens have the option of deferring their tuition fees through the HECS-HELPscheme.


Tuition Fees For International Students

CRICOS Provider Code 00002J




Master of Applied Anthropology

CRICOS Code: 040615D



Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Anthropology

CRICOS Code: 055298M



Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Anthropology

CRICOS Code: 055297A

AUD$ 9,200



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Department of Anthropology

Macquarie University

NSW  2109


Jovan Maud

Administrative Co-ordinator

Tel.: +61-2-9850 8095

Fax.: +61-2-9850 9391