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Graduate Diploma

Department of Social Sciences

Oxford Brookes is one of very few UK universities where social and biological anthropology are taught alongside each other.

This course emphasises the holistic and comparative breadth of anthropology - studying humans from a variety of social, cultural, biological and evolutionary perspectives.

Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Headington Campus

Course length

  • Full time: 9 months
  • Part time: 18 months

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • We are one of the few universities in the UK to teach social and biological anthropology side by side.
  • You get opportunities to work alongside leading, research-active academics such as Professor Anna Nekaris, Professor Jeremy McClancy and Professor Kate Hill.
  • You will benefit from excellent learning resources, both at Oxford Brookes and at Oxford’s museums and libraries including the Bodleian Library, the Radcliffe Science Library, the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Museum of Natural History.
  • We have a dynamic community of research scholars undertaking internationally recognised and world-leading research.
  • There is the option to join MSc students on a field trip to Apenhuel Primate Park in the Netherlands.
  • The Graduate Diploma in Anthropology enables graduates from other disciplines, and those with equivalent qualifications or work experience, to gain a qualification in anthropology at advanced undergraduate level.

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.

Compulsory Modules

One of:
  • 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.

Field trips

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.

Programme changes

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 page.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2019/20: £5,440 2020/21: £5,550

Home/EU - part time fee: 2019/20: £2,770 2020/21: £2,775

International - full time: 2019/20: £13,730 2020/21: £14,010

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

Entry requirements

An undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification is required. However, all applications are considered on their merits and we will consider applicants who do not meet the required level, if they can demonstrate through qualifications or experience, they have the knowledge, capabilities and commitment necessary.

English language requirements

Please see the university's standard English language requirements

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the university's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

International applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

Applications for the Graduate Diploma in Anthropology should be made direct to the University.

The check list of items required for application is as follows:

  • Application form, fully completed and signed
  • A personal statement (section 10 of application form)
  • One recent academic reference
  • Second reference (academic, employer or character reference)
  • Copy of degree certificate(s) and/or course transcripts
  • English Language Certificate
  • Completed checklist.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.


Many students choose the graduate diploma as a route to further study, continuing their education at master's and PhD level. However, anthropology graduates go on to a variety of careers including overseas development aid, environmental maintenance, education, eco-tourism, urban planning and the civil service.

How Brookes supports postgraduate students

Our student support co-ordinators can give advice on the course, finance, accommodation or personal issues which may be affecting your study. They will also regularly update you with information on visiting speakers, careers advice and course announcements. 

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Research highlights

Professor Anna Nekaris has been awarded a prestigious Leverhulme Trust grant of over £200k to undertake research in to why and how the seemingly cute and cuddly slow loris is the only primate to produce a biological venom. Understanding the nature of slow loris venom should also have implications for the conservation of this seriously threatened primate, a popular but illegal pet that is widely traded on the black market.

An international team of scientists, including Professor Adrian Parker, have revealed that humans left Africa at least 50,000 years earlier than previously suggested and were, in fact, present in eastern Arabia as early as 125,000 years ago. The new study published in the journal Science reports findings from an eight-year archaeological excavation at a site called Jebel Faya in the United Arab Emirates. Palaeolithic stone tools found at the Jebel Faya were similar to tools produced by early modern humans in east Africa, but very different from those produced to the north, in the Levant and the mountains of Iran. This suggested early modern humans migrated into Arabia directly from Africa and not via the Nile Valley and the Near East as is usually suggested. The new findings will reinvigorate the debate about man’s origins and how we became a global species.

Professor Jeremy MacClancy's latest book Centralizing Fieldwork, critical perspectives in primatology, biological and social anthropology, was co-edited with Augustin Fuentes of Notre Dame University and is published by Berghahn.

Research areas and clusters

Research can be undertaken in the following areas:

  • Anthropology of Art
  • Anthropology of Food
  • Anthropology of Work, and Play
  • Anthropology of Gender
  • Social Anthropology of Japan, South Asia and Europe
  • Social Anthropology of Family, Class and Gender in Urban South Asia
  • Basque studies
  • Culture and landscapes
  • Environmental archaeology and palaeo-anthropology
  • Environmental anthropology
  • Environmental reconstruction
  • Human origins
  • Human resource ecology
  • Human–wildlife interaction and conservation
  • Physical environmental processes and management
  • Primate conservation
  • Primatology
  • Quaternary environmental change
  • Urban and environmental studies.

Research centres:

  • Europe Japan Research Centre
  • Anthropology Centre for Conservation, Environment and Development.


  • Oxford Brookes Archaeology and Heritage (OBAH).

Find out more by visiting our website and browsing our staff profiles.

Related courses

  • MSc Primate Conservation