Often described as on the boundary between humanities and social sciences, a degree in anthropology – the study of cultures and what it means to be human – can lead to a wide range of work opportunities in everything from marketing and research to journalism or even police work. The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) began its master’s programme in anthropology in 1999 believing that it would really spark the interest of those who chose it. During the early years, programme director and graduate division head Professor Joseph Bosco found that many students had a strong interest in Chinese culture, specifically around topics like heritage management or archaeology in mainland China, though their approach was somewhat parochial. Now, the interests tend to be much broader, with one reason being that more students come from solid middle-class families where there is less concern about just having a job and more inclination to find meaningful work. “Besides that, more people travel independently and, in general, globalisation has changed our knowledge of and interaction with other countries and communities,” Bosco says. “The outcome is that more students want to learn and analyse and be thorough in their studies.” The CUHK master’s course includes electives from undergraduate programmes, which are supplemented with additional research and specialised tutorials. There are only two required classes, one of which focuses on field methods, so that students learn how to do ethnographic or field research. In choosing electives, students create their own learning experience. Many of the classes are small and cover topics such as the anthropology of China; medicine, health and culture; political violence and human rights. The schedule can make it difficult to study part-time while holding down a full-time job. For those thinking of applying, Bosco adds that a diverse mix of students promotes active discussion in the classroom. “Your language skills need to be good, for speed and comprehension, and to write well,” he says. Some graduates go back to their previous jobs with an added sense of fulfilment, while others use their degree to move to new roles. Typically, they look for openings in market research, advertising, with NGOs, at the Antiquities and Monuments Office, teaching, or even going on to a research-based postgraduate degree. “Fields like social sciences are becoming more popular and viable, as even banks want to hire from all disciplines and train in-house. The variety of skills this brings is seen as an advantage,” Bosco says. Indeed, the qualitative and other research methods learned in studying anthropology help graduates to see different approaches, question assumptions and think around a problem. For those who want to focus on the arts, a master’s in literary and cultural studies can be the ideal way forward. It covers a range of ideas and disciplines and gives students new skills in analysis and creative thinking. The programme at The University of Hong Kong (HKU) includes core studies and electives and addresses topics from both international and inter-disciplinary perspectives. The goal is to look at and come to appreciate different cultural viewpoints with the help of theoretical aspects, relevant literature and film studies. The programme has five main streams: film, visual and new media studies; literary and cultural theory; gender and sexuality studies; Hong Kong and China studies; and urban post-colonial and global studies. According to programme co-ordinator Dr Winnie Yee, the aim is to offer a diversity of subjects taught by specialist lecturers, so that students can focus on their particular interests. Applicants should have some background in literary or cultural studies and a certain amount of training in how to write critical or analytical essays and study a work of literature. However, the university welcomes students from different backgrounds –– lawyers, accountants, teachers and others to keep discussions lively and ensure a range of opinions. Yee has noticed that master’s degrees which look at China and Asia and their relationship with the rest of the world are becoming more popular. At HKU, students are also increasingly interested in visual and new media studies, as well as culture and globalisation. Other institutions in Hong Kong offering postgraduate courses are apparently seeing similar developments. “There is a new interest in cultural trends and how we engage with technology,” Yee says. “The social theories learned help in understanding everyday life.” The programme’s theoretical training familiarises students with concepts like Marxism, feminism and neo-liberalism, as well as more cutting-edge thoughts. “This gives students different angles from which to look at things and relate to each other,” Yee says. “For example, if you look at gender, there will be a link to class and other social phenomena like political ideas. We teach students how, in reality, these things are linked and how to understand and critique them.” Overall, graduates have the ability to see beyond the local context to understand what is happening in the rest of the world. For their final-year project, they are expected to use interpretive strategies to study literature and other narratives, and come up with independent conclusions. Yee says that the skills learned in contextual analysis and critical evaluation can easily be transferred to the workplace. “The theoretical training is also valuable, as it gives students an advanced conceptual framework and a way of looking at things with a critical eye,” she says. Former graduates have found jobs in teaching, for example at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), in film and media, and are helping local companies to run film festivals. Others have gone into publishing works on culture, curating exhibitions and managing art collections.