Young man with a camera


The content of the Anthropology programme focuses on developing a comparative perspective on what it means to be a human.

Study level Master's Studies

Duration of study 2 years

Language English

Study form Regular studies

Cost per semester 830

The Anthropology Programme at Tallinn University offers two MA pathways conducted in English. In one pathway, MA researchers produce a 40,000 word dissertation that is based on 8 weeks of participant observation. Graduate researchers can also opt to follow the Audiovisual Ethnography Module which allows researchers to produce audiovisual materials as part of their final projects. 

The Anthropology course would be of interest to students that wish to learn more about cultural diversity in a global context. We are also looking for students that are motivated to base their project on participant observation. The knowledge that is produced by our student dissertations arises from an empathetic immersion in the social context being studied.

Our approach is inspired by a variety of disciplinary and epistemological trends. While most of our members of staff come from an Anglo/French tradition in Social Anthropology, the environment at the School of Humanities fosters a transdisciplinary approach which includes Cultural Geography, Philosophy, Semiotics, and Literature Studies.


Why study with us?

  • We are constantly looking for ways to make new connections between disciplines, vocabularies, and concepts that will allow us to render a sophisticated understanding of the faculties of contemporary social life.
  • The research and teaching of Anthropology at Tallinn University is encouraged and sustained by a cosmopolitan staff; their regional research interests cover the Baltics, Turkey, the Caribbean, India, and Western Europe amongst others.
  • Our courses and research projects are informed by fieldwork-based research that examine the relativity of world-views, the commonalities of social practices, and relate them to a broader global context. Our coursework is based on the detailed analysis of ethnographic texts and anthropological films in a seminar setting.
  • Our courses address issues like the cultures of capitalism, globalisation and mobility, audiovisual ethnography, anthropology of perception, amongst others. All students carry out their own anthropological study in close collaboration with a supervisor.
  • Our international scope is complemented through our Erasmus programme, where students are offered the opportunity to study up to one year in another European university. We currently have an expanding number of Erasmus agreements with European universities and will soon include international universities through the Erasmus+ programme.
  • All our graduates have either continued to either post graduate studies or found employment in the public and private sector.
  • Students can apply for study fee reduction based on their study results.

Course Outline

Full-time studies

Due to the relatively small size of our unit, an important aspect of our existence is the personal rapport which students develop with their peers and supervisors. This lends itself to spirited and stimulating discussions which often carry on in informal contexts.

The MA normally takes 2 years.

  • During the first year, the MA student is expected to actively participate in seminars, attend the School’s courses and contribute to university events. Throughout the first 2 semesters, the candidate attends numerous courses and seminars with the goal of fine-tuning the theme that will be developed in the MA dissertation.
  • At the end of the 2nd semester, MA researchers are required to submit a research proposal to the curriculum staff. This proposal should state the research question, its relevance to the discipline, the methodology addressing it, and any ethical issues foreseen in carrying out the project. The proposal is discussed with a member of staff, other than the candidate’s supervisor, so that the researcher can receive independent feedback.
  • After the successful submission of the proposal, MA researchers embark on the fieldwork aspect of their projects. The suitable amount of time for this is an issue that is agreed upon with the supervisor(s). After fieldwork, one academic year is allotted to writing up. Attendance and participation in seminars at this stage are crucial.

Core course components

Many of our courses address issues like globalisation, migration, anthropological cinema, the anthropology of the body, anthropology of perception, amongst others.

During their studies students take a university-wide interdisciplinary course ELU to participate effectively in teamwork and make connections between the discipline and wider societal problems.

Students specialize either in Audiovisual Ethnography or Social and Cultural Anthropology to gain knowledge of traditional and current research topics, and to gain skills for academic research in a chosen subject. This is supported by language courses and practice in the form of fieldwork, teaching assistance, or internship abroad.

At the end of their studies, students carry out their own anthropological study in close collaboration with a supervisor.

  • Key Concepts in Literary and Cultural Analysis

The seminar explores the main concepts and theories of 20th century literary theory and cultural analysis. The aim of the seminar is to develop a coherent context for the question how to study literature, films and visual culture in their intermedial relationship.

  • Multiculturalism in a Global Perspective

This course examines the complex narratives and policies that produce and reproduce multiculturalism. The course approaches multiculturalism with a comparative gaze between Asia and the Americas.

  • General Debates in Anthropological Theory

This course examines issues  and debates that have characterised the development of anthropological thought and practice since the late 19th century to the early 21st century. The course is formatted as an interactive seminar that resembles a debate.

  • Ethnographic Readings

The course creates the opportunity for the student to familiarise themselves with core texts of ethnography and creates the preconditions for the development of critical reading and creative writing. The course explores both the history and the future challenges currently faced by ethnographic fieldwork and the anthropological theorising that is disseminated in book format.

  • Methods of Ethnographic Fieldwork and Project Planning

The course explores practical ethnographic approaches such as participant-observation, interviews and focus groups, and conceptual approaches. The course explores the politics of diverse forms of ‘participation’ in the fieldwork situation and representation in ethnographic writing, and how wider political and cultural issues condition diverse aspects of ethnographic research.

  • Political Economy of Culture

This course aims to introduce students to the anthropological study of political processes, providing the conceptual tools that anthropologists have developed for their analysis. It will cover the major anthropological theories, and debates in political anthropology. Empirically it will cover examples from both state, and non-state forms of social organization, postcolonialism, ethnicity and nationalism.

  • Anthropology of Experience

This course examines ‘the perceptual’ as a social, political, and cultural phenomenon, which is continually undergoing transformation throughout history. From this perspective, the course will consider how perception is experienced and, not only shapes the relations between persons, but also structures the way we encounter and perceive the world.

  • Soundscape: Perception & Design

This course considers the range of discourses and practices that seek to understand sound's relationship to social experience, from an anthropological perspective. The course will direct attention to the theoretical and discursive component of sound's role in society. It will focus on the different ways in which humans perceive sound, as a socially constructed phenomenon, and design sonic experiences. The course will also discuss how technologies of sound emerge from cultural and historical contexts.

Study programme 2018/2019


Study Support Facilities

  • The Anthropology programme is housed within the School of Humanities and utilises all the facilities made available by Tallinn University. The Audiovisual Ethnography Module is a joint course with the Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School, which supplies the basic equipment required to carry out the exercises associated with the curriculum.
  • The university campus houses a study library, the main university library situated within easy reach of the city centre. The National Library of Estonia is also in the city centre.
  • Before applying to the programme, one can learn more about Tallinn University while participating in Tallinn Summer School. It is a 3-week programme running in July, combining a wide range of courses with a rich, diverse cultural programme and attracting participants from all over the world. More information here. 
  • 8 scholarships of 50% reduced study fee are offered. Scholarships can be applied for after admittance.

Extracurricular Activities

The Estonian Anthropology Association is a student-run NGO founded in 2008 to promote anthropology and anthropological education in Estonia and abroad. The organization closely collaborates with the School of Humanities, Tallinn University.

This seminar series features speakers from anthropology and related fields, and fosters discussion of their research with a transdisciplinary audience. It aims to contribute to the culture of academic scholarship and debate at Tallinn University. Speakers include both local researchers and guests from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds and with various interpretations on anthropological theory and methods. Presentations in the seminar series will be of interest to staff and students in anthropology, cultural theory, sociology, and history, among others.

Department's Networks




Academic Staff

Carlo A. Cubero is Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology and he coordinates the Anthropology curriculum. Carlo A. Cubero holds a PhD in Social Anthropology using Visual Media from the University of Manchester, where he specialized in the contemporary Caribbean and Visual Anthropology. As part of his PhD research, he produced an ethnographic documentary, entitled Mangrove Music, which has been exhibited in 10 international film festivals. The film was awarded the Rollins Documentary award by the National Popular Culture & American Culture Associations Conference.

Research interests: ethnographic filmmaking methods, sensory ethnography, sonic ethnography, cinema, art, music, post-colonial identities, migration, transnationalism, Caribbean, Western Europe.


Marje Ermel

Marje Ermel is Lecturer of Social and Cultural Anthropology.

Research interests: anthropology of sound,  sonic ethnography, place and space, body and senses, anthropology of consciousness, anthropology of experience, religion, pilgrimage, story-telling, North-America, India.

Eeva Kesküla is a social anthropologist working as a senior researcher at Tallinn University, School of Humanities, leading a research project on Health and Safety regulations in heavy industry. She completed her PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London and her postdoc at Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Germany. She has done fieldwork in Estonia and Kazakhstan.

Her research interests include anthropology of work, industrial health and safety, gender and work, class and post-socialism, economic anthropology. Currently she is working on her book which is comparing the life and labour of Russian-speaking miners in Estonia and Kazakhstan, focusing on how global views of capital transform local class, gender and ethnic relations, how miners work and have fun.

Read more about her research

Joonas Plaan is a Lecturer of Anthropology. Currently, he is writing his PhD dissertation, studying how climate change affects inshore fisheries in Newfoundland, Canada. Joonas has done fieldwork among the fishing community in Kihnu Island, Estonia and is an active member in the international research group Too Big To Ignore that focuses on global issues in small-scale fisheries.

Research interests and areas: human-environment interactions, including environmental anthropology, political ecology, environmental history, landscape studies, fisheries, Baltic Sea and North-Atlantic fishing communities

Admission Requirements

General requirements

  • Completed Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent
  • Proof of English Proficiency
  • Please see the complete overview of admission and application requirements for Master's level applicants

Entrance exams

  • Statement of research interests and/or outline of research project (should be uploaded to online application system DreamApply in pdf format)
  • Essay based on assigned literature. The essay is to be written on-site (90 minutes, appr. 5 pages). International Applicants can submit their essays online, following a pre-arranged agreement. The applicants will be required to read two articles relating to one of the five topics listed: Fieldwork, Anthropology of Religion, Political Anthropology, Sensorial Anthropology and Visual Anthropology. Please read more about the essay below.
  • Interview

For the purposes of identity verification at the admission procedure the Admission Committee has the right to take a screenshot during the oral part of the admission exam carried out via video bridge.

Anthropology essay

Essay is based on assigned literature. The assigned literature can be consulted by clicking here.

The applicants will be required to read two articles relating to one of the topics listed – Fieldwork, Anthropology of Religion, Political Anthropology, Sensorial Anthropology and Visual Anthropology.

The essays are supposed to address the general issues discussed in the article. The Admissions Committee will be looking out for the applicant's ability to summarise the general issues covered and to present their own informed opinion on these issues. It would be seen as an asset if the applicant also uses other references in their essay.

You must read the chosen texts before writing the essay. You are permitted to refer to the chosen texts and any notes made beforehand during the essay writing, you are also allowed to prepare a detailed essay plan. Do not write the whole essay beforehand! We trust your veracity applying to the programme, since there will be plenty of essay writing during your studies with us, it is very important that we are fully aware of your writing abilities.

Special arrangements will be made with the candidates who have to write their essay online.

Assessment of the candidates

  1. Letter of Motivation & Statement of Research Interests: 20 points (min. required 14 points)
  2. Academic Essay: 50 points (min. requirement 35 points)
  3. Interview -  30 points (minimum required 21 points)

Important! Only applicants receiving the minimum required points for each component will be invited for the next round.

Find more information about the deadlines here.

Notable Alumni

Ayuk Nyakpo Orock

MA Anthropology (2016), Counsellor at the Finnish Red Cross

“My two years in the MA Anthropology programme of the School of Humanity in Tallinn University taught me that diversity itself - seen in body shapes and sizes, customs, clothing, speech, religion and worldview - provides a frame through which we can understand any single aspect of life in any given society. Anthropology at TLU with its interdisciplinary approach and diverse ways of viewing a wide variety of topical issues enabled me gain skills in anthropological research in understanding, analysing and resolving global problems."

Liisi Laanemets

MA Anthropology (2011)

“I graduated 2011 and since then I have worked in Estonian Public Broadcasting as editor in the music archive (2008-2014) and for the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra as orchestral librarian (since 2014) as well as lectured in the Estonian Academy of Theatre and Music. Anthropology gave me an excellent view to another course of humanity. And I was thinking during my studies and still do - anthropology in Tallinn University has a versatile, interesting and inspirational curriculum.”

Kirsika Olev

MA Anthropology (2013), Consultant at Estravel

“I was among the first students that were admitted to study Anthropology in Tallinn University in 2006 and graduated with my Master’s degree in 2013. From the very start of my studies, I became interested in the anthropology of tourism. Hence, both my Bachelor’s and Master’s theses were connected with tourism and the way different people perceive their surroundings while both travelling and working in the tourism industry. From the beginning of my Master’s studies, I have also been working as a travel consultant in the biggest travel agency in the Baltics – Estravel.”

Pavel Borecky

Ma Anthropology (2016)

Social anthropologist, non-fiction filmmaker and social innovator; PhD candidate of Bern University

"I can safely say that anthropology allowed me to slow down a bit, to focus on what I have always wanted to focus on – visual anthropology – and to challenge myself during the production of several film projects. It has been a joy to thrive in the international environment of the university and to engage with a very friendly and dedicated staff of  the School of Humanities and the Baltic Film and Media School. Without such an involvement I would hardly be allowed to enter Swiss educational system, or be appointed EASA's Applied Anthropology Network co-convenor."

Postgraduate Destinations

Graduate career options

Anthropologists make valuable contributions in the following fields:

  • Education/Outreach
  • Archaeology
  • Cultural Resource Management (CRM)
  • Historic Preservation
  • Museum/Curation/Project Design
  • Community Development
  • Advocacy (Human Rights/Social Justice)
  • Computers/Software Development/Information Technology
  • Design (products and/or services)
  • Ethnography/Cultural AnthropologyHealth
  • Environment and Natural Resources
  • Tourism/Heritage
  • Management Consulting/Organizational Development/Training
  • Humanitarian Efforts

For more information on career options in anthropology visit

Further study opportunities

All our graduates have either continued on to postgraduate studies or found employment in the public and private sector.

Researchers interested in pursuing doctoral studies in Anthropology at TLU can do so within the Studies of Cultures programme.

Contact Us!

  • Specific questions regarding the programme should be directed to the School of Humanities:
    Maris Peters
  • For additional guidelines regarding admission procedure please contact the international admission specialist.

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