Visual Anthropology, Media and Documentary Practices

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Deadline: Aug 5, 2023
195 place StudyQA ranking:1030 Duration:3 years You need IELTS certificate
In today's globalised world, where media representations shape social and political spheres, a critical understanding of media and (audio-) visual culture is crucial. Media studies, rooted in social anthropology, offer an in-depth approach to analysing the complex connections between media, culture and society.
The Master's programme educates students in theory and practice in the areas of visual anthropology, the documentary arts (film/photography/installation), media culture, and media anthropology. Conceptual and practical knowledge within these areas can be applied in academia, the arts, and culture and media industries. This knowledge can also be applied to social, applied, and educational media projects. Students study the theoretical and practical foundations of visual anthropology. They gain experience in film production, project development, and (audio-) visual installation. Ultimately, they acquire the necessary skills for producing their own research projects and media outputs.

Programme outline:

Module 1: Introduction to Audio-Visual and Media Anthropology
Students will receive a broad introduction to visual anthropology and media anthropology. They will acquire a basic understanding of the theoretical foundations of visual anthropology and will be introduced to the first practical steps and techniques involved in film production. This includes camera and editing techniques and audio-visual representational strategies rooted in anthropological theory.

Module 2: Anthropological Short Film Production
The focus of this module is on dramaturgic composition and technical competence, as a deeper understanding of both are required for students to ultimately implement their own project ideas. Central approaches are narrative strategies combined with anthropological, artistic and technical knowledge.

Module 3: Representation and Narrative Strategies
This module centres on narrative strategies and aesthetics. The basics of imagery, image semiotics, and image composition are considered. The module also teaches concepts relating to installation and exhibition. Moreover, different genres such as autoethnography and ethnofiction will be discussed.

Module 4: Media Practice Research
Considering case studies of cinematic, photographic, and other media productions, students cultivate an awareness of the social and political significance of various indigenous media and other cultural media. They will learn to analyse these types of media in the context of a social anthropological framework.

Module 5: Mediation of Human Experience
This module explores theories and methods for experimental and sensory ethnography, which are then tested by students in laboratories. In these laboratories, students receive insights into the field and practices of sensory and experimental ethnography by performing experimental research trials. Students learn to link and apply audio-visual methods to anthropological research contexts.

Module 6: Media Production & Project Development
This module functions as a workshop. During this module, students produce an anthropological media product in the form of a filmic or photographic project. Strategies concerning project development, financing, and marketing of products originating from the documentary arts are also considered.

Module 7: Project Supervision and Research Colloquium
Each student begins to contemplate, discuss, and draft ideas for the production of the final media project and written thesis.

Module 8: Practical Work and Experience
An internship is carried out in either a professional area of the cultural media industries or in an area specifically related to a student's final project.

Module 9: Fieldwork, Media Project, Final Thesis & Final Presentation
In the final module, each student writes a Master's thesis and creates a media project in the form of a documentary film, photography exhibition, or installation.

Educational organisation

The Master's programme was designed with working professionals in mind. Distance learning allows students to participate regardless of location. A large part of the programme requires self-study as well as the student's own preparation and review of course material. The programme consists of six semesters, including the Master's thesis and final media project. The first seven modules require students to be present in in Münster. These modules are offered as block courses. Overall, the programme is comprised of 46 days requiring attendance.

The Master's programme is structured as follows:

First semester
Module 1: Audio-Visual and Media Anthropology
Module 2: Anthropological Short Film Production

Second semester
Module 3: Representation and Narrative Strategies
Module 4: Media Practice Research

Third semester
Module 5: Mediation of Human Experience
Module 6: Media Production and Project Development

Fourth semester
Module 7: Project Supervision and Research Colloquium

Fifth semester
Module 8: Practical Work and Experience

Sixth semester
Module 9: Fieldwork, Media Project, Final Thesis

Study abroad unit(s)

An internship needs to be carried out in the fifth semester. Students may decide to complete the internship abroad.


An internship of ten weeks is carried out in either a professional area of the cultural media industries or in an area specifically related to a student's final project. Students working full-time can decide whether they wish to do an internship at this stage or conduct a supervised project within their current organisations.

Forms of assessment

Written and practical examinations will be undertaken in every module.
Module 1: Essay
Module 2: Essay & short film
Module 3: Essay
Module 4: Essay & media ethnography
Module 5: Essay
Module 6: Essay & film/media project
Module 7: Research proposal
Module 8: Practical work experience report
Module 9: Master's thesis & practical media project

For the coursework modules (1-7), credits are based on attendance, active participation, and the passing of a final exam (essays/practical assignments). An essay should always consist of approx. 5,000 words. The research proposal should be six to eight pages and the work experience report should be 12 pages. Students have four weeks to complete the report.
In the final module, each student writes a Master's thesis (circa 15,000 to 20,000 words) and creates a practical media project in the form of a documentary film (30-40 minutes), a photography exhibition, or an installation. Both need to be completed within six months.

Course objectives

Students who successfully complete the programme are awarded a Master of Arts degree from the University of Münster (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster).
Students can acquire new prospects for the future as part of the Master's programme. The practical and analytical media skills and competences gained in the programme can be used in many and varied ways in both academic and non-academic contexts. They distinguish themselves (in comparison to those acquired in traditional media schools) through the methodical questioning and understanding of comparative cultural and social anthropology. Social anthropological media skills and competences can be used in many ways outside of an academic context. These skills can be useful in social projects (e.g. intercultural communication), NGOs, and international organisations. They can also be used in the culture media industry, artistic projects, and artistic research. The practical work experience and the public exhibition at the end of the programme provide students with the opportunity to network and present themselves and their work. The resulting network of students and lecturers and the international orientation of the programme provide an opportunity for students to gain professional prospects not only in German-speaking countries, but also in a global context.

Language requirements

English level B2 pursuant to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)

Academic requirements

Applicants for the Master's programme "Visual Anthropology, Media and Documentary Practices" must:
  • Possess relevant undergraduate or first degree (at least 180 ECTS credit points, e.g., Bachelor, Diploma, Master)
  • Have at least one year of work experience in media production and/or the social sciences or cultural studies
  • Prove language skills equivalent to English level B2, pursuant to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)
  • Pass an interview of approx. 30 minutes

Enrolment fees

Social semester fee of 240 EUR per semester, including a semester ticket covering public transport for the greater Münster area and the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia

Costs of living

Approx. 700 EUR per month to cover accommodation, insurance, and personal expenses

Services and support for international students

The University of Münster assists international students in their search for suitable accommodation, offers information about cultural activities, and provides general advice about living in Münster. The WWU Weiterbildung is happy to organise leisure activities to support networking. Some examples of this include making dinner reservations at popular Münster restaurants or organising activities such as city tours and museum visits. Students have always welcomed this offer in the past.


Many students travel from outside the city and require accommodation during the parts of the programme in which attendance is required. The city of Münster has lots to offer by way of accommodation in all price ranges, from a comfortable Westphalia guest house to a sophisticated botique hotel. An overview of accommodation possibilities can be found on the city of Münster website. The WWU Weiterbildung is happy to assist further. The university is able to obtain reductions and discounts at a number prospective accommodations.
Similar programs:
Study mode:On campus Languages: English
Local:$ 21.6 k / Year(s) Foreign:$ 21.6 k / Year(s)
251–300 place StudyQA ranking: 1095 You need IELTS certificate
Study mode:On campus Languages: English
Local:$ 518 / Year(s) Foreign:$ 518 / Year(s)
Deadline: Jan 15, 2024 251–300 place StudyQA ranking: 2259 You need IELTS certificate