This course provides students with intensive training in selected aspects of anthropology at advanced undergraduate level.
It can constitute a conversion course for students wishing to continue with anthropology at master's level or higher, eg, a PhD, depending on their background and achievements. Students usually opt to follow pathways focusing on social or biological aspects of anthropology.
However, it is equally possible to select a programme aimed at gaining broad training across both aspects of the subject.
The course is built around two pathways - social and biological anthropology. Each pathway has two compulsory modules: one introductory and the other a more advanced theoretical module. For the rest of the course, in discussion with the course tutor, you will put together a programme of six modules according to your aims and interests.
To gain the award, students must pass eight modular credits from the broad range of acceptable anthropology modules offered, including the two compulsory modules.
- The Study of Biological Anthropology - an introductory module that examines key issues in understanding humans and other primates within the context of biological evolution. It builds an awareness of evolutionary principles and considers the similarities and contrasts between humans and other primates, and their significance for human adaptive success.
- The Study of Social Anthropology - an introduction to the history and practice of social anthropology as a basis for more advanced study in the field, providing an overview of the key theoretical approaches and concepts created by anthropologists over the last 30 years.
And one of:
- The Study of Social Anthropology Theory - the emergence of social and cultural anthropology as a separate discipline is examined by reference to key works by leading contributors to the development of anthropological theory.
- The Study of Methods and Analysis in Biological Anthropology - introduces the methods and analysis used across several fields of biological anthropology. In addition to learning the main concepts of the scientific method and hypothesis testing, students will be introduced to the basic methods of several biological anthropological sub-disciplines including: morphometric analyses (including human diversity, forensics, and skeletal analyses), behavioural observation techniques, population genetics, and evolutionary systematics. Analytical techniques will be introduced in preparation for future research.
Acceptable optional modules include:
- The Study of Anthropology of Art - a study of anthropological approaches to art, especially art produced by non-Western small-scale societies. The module investigates the possibility of cross-cultural aesthetics, the anthropology of museums, and the anthropological dimensions of contemporary art worlds across the globe.
- The Study of Anthropology of Ritual - Ritual is often considered as exotic and as primarily related to religion. However, the anthropological approach requires that ritual be situated not only in religious but also in secular contexts, including for instance politics and power relations, the construction of social identities, and the reproduction and invention of 'tradition'.
- The Study of European Societies - The module shows the relevance of an anthropological approach to the study of European societies. It starts with the investigation of classic anthropological concepts at predominantly village or urban neighbourhood level. It then broadens out into wider more contemporary issues such as identity, nationalism, racism, the uses of history and ceremony, tourism, and the EU.
- The Study of Work and the Japanese - Looks at the significance of work and the company in the lives of people working in Japan or in Japanese companies located elsewhere. Students will learn about company organisation, industrial relations and the nature of employment in both large and medium-small sized enterprises.
- The Study of Personhood, Gender and the Body in Contemporary Japan - This module introduces anthropological perspectives on personhood, gender and the body and examines these with reference to ethnographic material from Japan.
- The Study of Humans and Other Primates - Explores the similarities and differences between humans and other primates using a broad comparative approach to examine structure, physiology, molecular biology and evolutionary history. The hallmarks of humanity emerge against a background of detailed knowledge of other species to help trace our history of inheritance and to explore the reasons for our unique specialisations.
- The Study of Primate Societies - There are some 400 species of primates other than humans, and this module explores the diversity of their social behaviour as a background for a better understanding of our own. This module uses a broad comparative approach to identify patterns of communication and social interaction among primates in relation to ecology, energetics, phylogeny, demography and tradition.
- The Study of Human Ecology - Introduces students to the study of human ecology, a core part of Biological Anthropology. Three main areas of human ecology are covered: resources, nutrition and disease.
- The Study of Research Methods in Social Anthropology - A practical module involving reading about methods used in social anthropology, but also considerable independent study in investigating appropriate methods for your dissertation or other project.
- The Study of Human Evolutionary Biology and Geography - Considers the relationship between the various biological stages in human evolution, changes in society and behaviour, as interpreted from the material record. Special emphasis will be given to developing an understanding of the role played by the palaeoenvironmental and palaeogeographical context of human evolution and behavioural change.
- Anthropology in Action - Students will be strongly encouraged to extend their knowledge and understanding of anthropological concerns and debates to consider how and when anthropology can make a significant contribution to a variety of different areas. The module will demonstrate to students the wide range of possible future careers open to anthropology graduates.
- Minorities and Marginality in Japan - Examines the historical and contemporary experiences and identities of various minority and marginal groups in Japan. It theorises the reproduction of marginality in society generally and compares ethnographically the experience of marginality in Japanese society with other societies.
- Palaeopathology - This module is designed to provide the student with an understanding of the analysis of human bones from archaeological sites, exploring theoretical and practical issues through a combination of lecture and laboratory based sessions. Special emphasis will be placed on the study of palaeopathology and its use in studying populations within a comparative framework.
- Dawn of Civilisation - For three million years early humans were nomadic hunter-gatherers whose prosperity was wholly dependant upon the ebb and flow of the climate. Then, around 10,000 years ago, there was a behavioural revolution that set into motion a series of exponential changes in human technology, subsistence, and organisation. This avalanche of development began in the region known as the Fertile Crescent, which includes the eastern Mediterranean, northern Arabia and Mesopotamia. This module spans human history from 10,000 BC until 1000 BC. We will review archaeological data, geography, the environmental record, and mythology from the world’s first civilizations to understand how, where, why, and when they arose.
- Advanced Topics in Social Anthropology - Examines a range of recent critical debates and developments in anthropological theory.
- People and Other Animals - Humans and other animals have a long history of interacting with each other. In this module we examine some of the complexities and contradictions evident in people-animal relationships through topics such as animals as food, companion animals and animals as ‘nature’.
- Cognitive Evolution - Explores the evolution of human intelligence, charting and evaluating the evidence for the development of key cognitive traits such as language, culture, tool use and symbolism. Grounded in the study of the fossil and archaeological records, the module adopts a multidisciplinary approach drawing on evolutionary psychology, cognitive science, philosophy, linguistics and primatology.
- Anthropology Independent Study - Offers students a flexible opportunity to explore an anthropological topic. Outputs can vary considerably and could include one or more of: an essay, annotated bibliography, ethnographic fieldwork journal, video/film or a long report.
NB: As courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the module list you choose from may vary from that shown here.
Teaching and learning
We provide a broad range of learning experiences, including independent study, work in small groups, seminars and lectures.
We also use a wide range of assessment techniques, including essays, book reviews, class presentations, fieldwork reports and exams.
You will be offered the opportunity to join MSc students on their annual trip to Apenhuel Primate Park in the Netherlands. The 3-day trip costs between £105 and £115, depending on numbers. Vist the MSc Primate Conservation facebook page for photos of past field trips.
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published
on the website. For more information, please visit our
Changes to programmes