Anthropology

BA (Hons) or BSc (Hons)

UCAS code: L600

Start dates: September 2024 / September 2025

Full time: 3 years

Part time: up to 6 years

Location: Headington

Department(s): School of Law and Social Sciences

Find a course

Expand

Overview

Our world faces immense challenges: from conflict and poverty to wildlife conservation. We need people with skills to respond.

Anthropology at Oxford Brookes covers both social and biological aspects of this fascinating discipline. You will explore our origins, our interactions with nature, and contemporary human relations.

You’ll examine:

  • social justice
  • human evolution
  • race, gender & sexuality
  • environment & conservation
  • migration
  • international development.

Through field trips, work-based learning, lectures and seminars – led by world-class published academics – you’ll gain highly employable skills.

A cross-cultural focus will take you into case studies – drawn from the research of your lecturers – in places like Japan, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, India, Madagascar, South Africa and Spain.

There are opportunities to study abroad and many extra-curricular activities. Build your own degree or select one of our exciting pathways focused on social, biological or combined aspects of anthropology:

  • Human Origins,
  • International Development & Conservation,
  • Human Cultures.

Order a Prospectus Ask a question Attend an open day or webinar

Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Science and Social Science pathways

    A unique opportunity to study sciences and/or social sciences in a single degree. Build your own program or choose a social, biological or combined pathway.

  • Field trips and study abroad opportunities

    From integrated residential and one-day field trips to opportunities for overseas study, you have many exciting possibilities with this degree.

  • World-Leading published academics

    You’ll be taught by academics actively engaged in fieldwork from archaeological investigations and palaeopathology to wildlife monitoring, research with labour migrants and humanitarian work.

  • Sought after employment skills

    NGOs, humanitarian organizations, corporations, educational bodies, research agencies, international institutions, local initiatives and small businesses all need people with the skills you will gain.

  • Free language courses

    Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

  • Study abroad

    You may be able to go on a European or international study exchange while you are at Oxford Brookes. Although we will help as much as we can with your plans, ultimately you are responsible for organising and funding this study abroad.

Course details

Course structure

In your first year you’ll study a structured program and sample both social and biological aspects of anthropology. Fantastic field trips and activities will help you to build strong relationships with fellow students and lecturers.

In your second year and third year you’ll be able to focus on areas that inspire you. You can build your own degree, or follow 1 of our 3 focussed pathways:

  • Human Origins
    You will focus on Biological Anthropology, and engage with a wonderful opportunity to explore human origins, evolution, archaeology and primatology.
  • International Development and Conservation 
    You will study across Social and Biological Anthropology, you will have the unique chance to examine issues like international development, humanitarianism, human rights, environmental protection and wildlife conservation.
  • Human Cultures
    You will focus on Social Anthropology, you’ll explore the amazing scope of human culture and illuminate debates around politics, migration, economy, care, culture, ethnicity, sexuality and gender.

Anthropology, BA (Hons) degree course students in a lesson at Oxford Brookes University

Learning and teaching

You’ll learn through a mix of group discussion, independent research and hands-on practical work. 

You’ll participate in:

  • lectures
  • small seminars
  • tutorials
  • practicals
  • lab work

All your learning will be led by expert practitioners, who carry out fieldwork alongside teaching. This means your learning will always be underpinned by the latest thinking and research.

Assessment

Your assessments will be diverse, and will support different learning styles - you’ll have a real opportunity to showcase your strengths. 

You might write a blog, create a video diary or give a presentation. You’ll be able to carry out lab work, write essays and participate in seminar discussions. You’ll have some exams and in-class tests as well.

Study modules

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Becoming an Anthropologist 1

    Develop your key academic skills through a consideration of social and biological anthropology. You will engage with:

    • literature
    • undertake deductive reasoning
    • explore critical thinking
    • and understand different approaches to writing.

    You will carry the skills you've gained to address issues that are central to the discipline.

    You will also have the opportunity of fieldwork trips to local museums. And a two-night collective trip to a site of significant interest. You will explore the importance and relevance of Anthropology as an academic discipline.

  • Becoming Human

    How did humans emerge as a species? Why do human societies vary across time and space? How can we understand the diversity of human experience today? In this module you'll address these questions by exploring anthropology as a discipline. 

    You’ll take an integrated approach, covering social and biological anthropology. You will also study other living primates and archaeology. You will also engage with a range of research taking place at Oxford Brookes University to build your anthropological skills.

    You'll explore the application of anthropology to contemporary life and examine how anthropological approaches offer solutions to issues facing humanity today.

     

  • Being Human

    What does it mean to be human? How do humans interact with each other and with the world around them? In this module you'll tackle these questions. You'll consider how anthropology provides an important understanding of the relationships humans have with their past, present and future.

    Your studies will include social and biological anthropology. You will also study other living primates and archaeology. You will develop a keen analytical knowledge of the range of anthropological research.

    You'll explore how we can use anthropology to understand what it means to ‘be human’. You’ll consider how anthropological approaches can address issues across the span of humanity as well as challenges in the contemporary context.

  • Family, Kinship, and Society

    How do people in different societies conceptualize, organize and negotiate social relationships? In this module, you’ll examine human relatedness and kinship. You’ll draw on studies from a range of historical and contemporary contexts to explore households and kinship networks. Your studies will reveal the often complex, ambiguous, and unequal relationships between men, women and children. As this module progresses, you’ll examine the impact that wider economic and political transformations have on shaping personal lives and the relationship between these intimate social relations across the contemporary world. 

  • Primate Societies

    What’s the difference between humans, and the 600 other species of primates? In this module, you’ll explore humans through the diverse social behaviour of other primates. You’ll observe how primate societies interact and compromise to survive, looking at primate populations through time.You’ll gain the key analytical skills to succeed in your Anthropology degree, as you identify patterns of social interaction in primates in terms of:

    • ecology
    • energetic
    • demography
    • tradition 
    • phylogeny (the evolution of genetically related groups).
  • Becoming an Anthropologist 2

    You will build on your knowledge from Becoming an Anthropologist 1. Where you focused on key academic skills. In this module you will further enhance your abilities. You'll have a chance to engage with creative methods and ways of presenting anthropological material from theatre, art and photography, conservation techniques, 3d printing, and virtual reality.

    We'll help you to progress your 'outside the box' thinking to illustrate that there are many ways of working within anthropology beyond the standard approach. 

    You will build a creative foundation of knowledge that you'll be able to use on other modules including your higher level studies.

Optional modules

Introduction to Japanese Society and Culture

In this module, you'll use anthropological perspectives to make an in-depth investigation of contemporary life in Japan. You'll cover factors and topics that affect Japanese everyday life such as:

  • child rearing 
  • education and early socialization
  • households, marriage and kinship
  • work and employment
  • gender and sexuality
  • religion and ritual
  • immigration and diversity 
  • Japanese popular culture 
  • and the globalization of Japanese culture. 

This will give you a good base of knowledge for taking more advanced modules on the anthropology of Japan in years 2 and 3.

Introduction to Physical Geography

In this module, you’ll be introduced to selective themes and topics in physical geography. Using climate change science as a disciplinary grounding, you’ll explore recent and future developments, as well as other areas that are inherently linked with climate change in physical geography (including environmental processes, systems and management).

Contemporary Societies: Structure and Change

What’s the relationship between the economy, the state, and society? How have labour markets and welfare states changed over time? In this module, you’ll examine the issues that are shaping social and political developments in contemporary society. You’ll explore questions relating to power and politics, and will look at other topics such as international immigration patterns, the formation of ethnic minorities, the role of religion in modern society and the challenges posed by global environmental change.

Year 2

Compulsory modules

  • Human Evolution

    In this module, you’ll dive into human evolution. You’ll explore how the biological stages of human evolution link to changes in society and behaviour. You’ll gain specialist knowledge of the palaeoenvironmental (environment of a past age) and palaeogeographical ( geographical features of a past age) context of human evolution.

  • Social Anthropology Theory

    In this module you’ll explore theoretical developments in social anthropology. ‘Theory’ may seem opaque and intimidating but – through creative teaching and embodied learning – you will gain a strong knowledge of how social theory helps us to understand the world.

    From social structures and forms of transformation, to gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity and identity, you will consider fascinating debates and approaches.

    You will be challenged to explore concepts such as functionalism, symbolic anthropology, structuralism, post-structuralism, postcolonialism and Marxism as well as emerging ideas grounded in materiality, embodiment, ontology, critical race theory and decolonising theory.

  • Anthropology in Practice

    This module will provide you with the core methodological skills you need to take your research interests in exciting directions.  You'll have the support to gain the:

    • planning
    • research
    • analytical techniques 

    needed for your dissertation and other work.  From ethnographic fieldwork to surveying and data analysis, the module provides a great platform from which to launch into your own projects.  

    This module links to ‘Anthropology in Action’, where your focus is on the applications of anthropology. This ensures you will be able to take the practice based approaches developed in this module and put them ‘into action’ as you progress.

  • Anthropology in Action

    In this module you’ll start to cultivate your career skills by exploring practical and applicable outputs that have potential for 'real-world' impact. You'll gain insight into the applications of Anthropology beyond academia and have the opportunity to put knowledge gained in the parallel module, 'Anthropology on Practice', into action.

    You will also find out about the wide range of career options open to Anthropology graduates. Using the skills you’ve gained in your degree, you’ll learn how anthropology contributes to areas such as:

    • international development
    • business
    • conservation
    • human health  
    • urban planning.
    • activism
    • and social/political change.

     

Optional modules

Understanding India: Society Culture and Economy

In this module, you’ll get to grips with the diversity of India as a nation., You will explore politics, society, economy and culture. You will consider the fascinating history of India, shifting imaginaries of the country over time, and its changing relationship with the global context today. You will use a strong engagement with ethnographic material to understand the everyday lives of India’s citizens and wider diaspora through explorations of work, labour, migration, religion, politics and sociality.

At the interpersonal level, you will gain a deep understanding surrounding questions of intimacy, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, caste, class and identity. At a structural level, you will tackle issues of social, cultural and economic transformation in the context of cultural practices, religious influences, capitalist development, political change, neoliberalism, postcolonialism, and forms of protest or conflict.

 

Ritual and Society

What are rituals, and why do we perform them? In this module, you’ll explore the key role of rituals in society. You’ll look at various human communities as you consider the origins of ritual, and its different definitions. You’ll gain valuable critical skills as you explore key anthropological concepts, including:

  • rites of passage
  • liminality
  • anti-structure
  • communities.

Anthropology Work Placement

On this module, you will build skills that are attractive to employers. You will gain an understanding and awareness of work and your future employability.

You will be supported to participate in work, community and extra curricular settings. You will develop and engage with self directed learning and structure reflection. Learning from your experience and personal advancement - you will gain insight and direction for possible future professional roles.

 

 

European Societies

In this module, you’ll investigate European societies. You’ll apply classic concepts in studying societies as you look at European villages and urban neighbourhoods. You’ll then explore broader contemporary issues, including:

  • identity
  • nationalism
  • racism
  • how we use history
  • ceremonial issues
  • tourism
  • the EU.

Human Ecology

How do humans interact with their environments, past and present? In this module, you’ll explore two key themes - nutrition and disease - and what these can tell us about humans and their biological and social surroundings. You’ll gain a strong grounding in the principles of human ecology. And you’ll gain key critical skills as you explore humans and their evolution.

Culture and Everyday Life

In this module, you’ll dig into different aspects of culture. You’ll gain key critical skills as you analyse:

  • matters of taste
  • cultural classification
  • media
  • fashion
  • subcultures
  • bodily culture
  • food practices.

You’ll explore the significance of these issues to:

  • globalisation
  • group formation
  • resistance and inclusion.

We’ll also use examples from British popular culture, to discuss the theories and concepts you’ve covered in lectures. 

Primate Adaptation and Evolution

Are humans any different from other primates? In this module, you’ll dig into the relationship between humans and other primates. You’ll investigate:

  • structure
  • physiology
  • molecular biology
  • evolutionary history.

You’ll discover what marks us as human against other species. You’ll gain a detailed knowledge of other species, as you trace our inheritance and explore the reasons for our unique characteristics.

Conservation and Heritage Management

In this module, you’ll explore heritage landscapes, and their identity as places of cultural or community value. You’ll study some of the world’s most magnificent heritage as you consider how heritage landscapes have evolved over time. You’ll look at their conservation and management, and the physical and human impact upon them. You’ll get to grips with the core concepts and themes of environmental conservation, heritage management and sustainable development. You’ll understand the rules and regulations, as well as the roles of advisors, in how we protect sites. You’ll also build up knowledge of different ecosystems, their origins and how human interactions impact their development.

Quaternary Environmental Change

Sea levels are rising; glaciers are melting; Arctic sea ice is thinning and weather events are becoming more extreme. We are in the grip of global warming. But how do these changes compare with the environmental changes that have occurred in the past? What does the past teach us about how natural and human factors may interact to change our climate and environment in the future? 

In this module you’ll examine changes to the physical environment throughout the Quaternary: the last 2.6 million years of geological history and time during which humans have evolved and spread across the earth. You’ll examine the causes of climatic and environmental change over different timescales and the complex interactions between human impacts and natural processes, gaining perspective on current environmental and climatic concerns.

 

International Year Abroad

Optional modules

International Year Abroad

This is your opportunity to work or study in another country, so you can experience a different culture from the UK. You’ll be able to apply and test your knowledge and skills in new contexts that will significantly develop your employability profile.

Choosing this module will allow you to exhibit the development of self-management and working or studying in unfamiliar contexts, alongside practising cross-cultural communication and interpersonal skills.

You will receive support and guidance to help you find a place in an available partner university, or to find a work placement for your international year abroad. This international year abroad module lasts for one academic year and is taken after the conclusion of your second year of study, once you’ve completed all your level 5 studies. Your international year abroad is not credit-bearing.

The opportunity can be approached in 2 different ways. Please see your options below: 
 

Study in a non UK University Option

You can attend a non-UK higher education institution for a full academic year. You’ll be able to choose modules in your own subject or in a subject you consider would benefit your overall course of study. You may choose to deepen your knowledge of your degree subject or enhance it by developing complementary skills.

By studying in an international university you’ll progress your interpersonal skills through cross-cultural communication with fellow students and tutors, building lasting relationships. Also you’ll further develop your study skills as you focus on your selected areas of interest to you - while developing and progressing an international study experience that will add significance to your CV.
 

Work-based Learning Option

Undertake a work placement or work-related project based on your interests and existing skills. You will create an initial learning contract that shows clearly how your proposed placement or project will link with your academic and/or professional aims.

This pathway helps you to have full control over what your work-related learning looks like. You will advance your skills in a practical setting, gain first-hand experience in a work environment, and begin to create your professional network. Also, taking initiative of your learning in such a way will mean that you will stand out when you apply for jobs after graduation.
 

Final Year

Compulsory modules

  • Anthropology Dissertation (compulsory for single honours, optional for combined honours)

    This module gives you the chance to do research on a topic that fascinates you. You’ll have the support of expert tutors. This is an opportunity for you to showcase your passions, expertise and advanced learning in Anthropology.

Optional modules

Anthropology Independent Study

This module gives you the chance to do research on a question or issue that fascinates you. You can home in on any topic in social or biological anthropology, with the support of expert tutors. You’ll enhance the key skills needed for a research project, gaining vital experience for the world of work:

  • planning
  • explaining a problem in depth
  • carrying out primary research
  • collecting and analysing data
  • structuring and presenting a major piece of work.
     

Development and Humanitarianism

In this module, you’ll explore the changing relationship between anthropology, and international development (the idea that different countries have different levels of development). You’ll gain a strong grounding in international development. You’ll gain key analytical skills as you dive into debates on the relationship between anthropology and development. You’ll explore key issues for anthropologists working in international development, including:

  • gender relations
  • environmental issues
  • health
  • youth
  • religion.

You’ll compare ideas and practices in international development. You’ll look at approaches to social policy, inequality and well-being in the UK. And you disrupt the lines we draw between North and South, developed and underdeveloped, or advanced and emerging economies and societies.

Anthropology Independent Study

In this module, you’ll develop fantastic, transferable skills for work, and gain the research skills to succeed in your degree. You’ll develop the knowledge and expertise to become an independent researcher. You’ll enjoy access to the research in our internationally acclaimed department, the current work of staff.

Cognitive Evolution

In this module, you’ll dive into human intelligence and its evolution. You’ll gain fantastic research skills as you evaluate the evidence for the development of cognitive traits such as:

  • language
  • Culture
  • tool use
  • symbolism.

You’ll uncover fossil and archeological records for evidence of human intelligence and its development. You also draw on:

  • evolutionary psychology
  • cognitive science
  • philosophy
  • linguistics
  • primatology (the study of intelligent mammals).

Culture and Care

How do our brains make us care - for children, the elderly and the vulnerable? How do different cultures encourage people to nurture others? In this module, you’ll look at the evolutionary and ecological reasons for care, nurturance and social support. You’ll dive into the care practices of other cultures, as you look at how they approach:

  • religion
  • healing
  • child care
  • elder care.

You’ll also look at how we care for non-human living things and the planet as a whole. You’ll gain key analytical knowledge as you apply what you learn to yourself, your community and pressing social issues.

Dawn of Civilisation

How did humans change from nomadic hunter-gatherers to the pioneers of enormous changes in technology, subsistence and organisation? In this module, you’ll look at human history from 10,000 until 1,000 BC that led to an avalanche of development. You’ll gain key critical skills as you review:

  • archeological data
  • geography
  • the environmental record
  • mythology from the world’s first civilisations.

Africa: Social and Economic Transformations

In this module, you’ll explore key themes in African cultures - from the colonial era to today. You’ll reflect on core economic arguments, asking how far theories of modernisation can shed light on African social and economic transformation. You’ll dig into detailed, ethnographic (the study of people and their cultures) accounts of people’s everyday lives, reflecting on:

  • the shifting nature of kinship
  • gender issues
  • intergenerational tensions
  • economic morality.

Through these intimate stories, you’ll explore broader issues of vulnerability and marginalisation. We’ll discuss what anthropology can tell us about global impoverishment. And we’ll discuss how men and women navigate fragile livelihoods in shaky economies. 

Minorities and Marginality in Contemporary Japan

What does it mean to be Japanese? We often assume that the Japanese are “one people”, but in this module, you’ll meet Japan’s ethnic minorities and marginalised groups. You’ll learn about their experiences - both historically and today. You’ll gain key analytical skills as you relate minorities and marginalisation in Japan to broader concerns with:

  • ethnic and cultural identity
  • class structure
  • marginalisation and precarity in the workforce experienced by younger people
  • national identity
  • hybridity in cultures
  • migration and post-colonialism
  • Indigenous rights.

Palaeopathology

In this module, you’ll analyse human bones from archaeological sites. You’ll get to know the ancient diseases that we can understand through human and animal bones. You’ll gain key practical skills through lab-based sessions and through researching primary material. You’ll also learn how palaeopathology can help us understand different populations.

People and Other Animals

As humans, we’ve lived closely with other animals since the dawn of time. We have a long history of interacting with each other. In this module, you’ll examine the complex and contradictory elements in people-animal relations, including:

  • animals as food
  • companion animals
  • animals as nature.

Primate Conservation

From forest loss to climate change, living primates (including humans) are facing huge threats to their environment and conservation. In this module, you’ll get to know the impact of humans on non-human primates, including hunting for trade to the issues of co-existence.You’ll discover why our non-human primate relatives are at greater risk of extinction now than ever before. You’ll understand the major challenges facing primates, how international legislation protects them, and how we can help the world’s most threatened species.

Subjectivities and Social Transformation

In this module you will explore the relationship between material change, forms of social transformation and shifts in individual/communal subjectivities of people themselves. In exploring these intersections you will have the opportunity to think about, for example, the role of industrial capitalism, urbanization, neoliberalism, migration and shifting understanding of time and temporality.

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from those shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.

Careers

An anthropology degree at Oxford Brookes offers numerous possibilities for future careers or further study. The core skills you’ll develop around investigative techniques, writing, research, cultural understanding and fieldwork practices are needed by NGOs, humanitarian organisations, charities, government agencies, private companies and educational institutions.

Our pathways help you to build and refine these skills.

The Human Origins Pathway could lead you into a career as an archaeologist, a forensic anthropologist, a nutritionist, a museum curator, a lab scientist or many other fields.

The International Development & Conservation pathway provides skills that are essential for development, humanitarian and conservation projects around the world.

The Human Cultures Pathway develops cross-cultural understanding with potential to specialise in regions like Asia, Africa or Europe. This expertise is needed in sectors from government and education to the corporate world and international institutions. 

Student profiles

Our Staff

Professor Anna Nekaris, OBE

Anna is a world-renowned primatologist who teaches on the BSc Anthropology course. She is a specialist in Asian lorises and is internationally recognised for her work identifying threats to these critically endangered species. Anna has published more than 250 papers, and has appeared in documentaries on Animal Planet, the BBC, the History Channel and more. You’ll see Anna on modules like Introduction to Biological Anthropology and Primate Conservation.

Read more about Anna

Dr Sam Smith

Sam is an experienced field archeologist. He’s an expert on ancient technologies - like chipped stone tools. And he’s charted human progress from nomadic hunter gatherer societies to today’s urban cityscapes. He can tell you about climate change throughout our evolution - and also humans’ impact on their landscapes. You’ll see Sam in Year 1 in our Deep History module and in Year 3 modules Cognitive Evolution and The Dawn of Civilisation.

Read more about Sam

Dr Thomas Chambers

Thomas is an expert on Indian Muslims. He has extensively studied Indian Muslim workers - both in India and in Middle Eastern labour camps. He also examines how gender, class, ethnicity and religion shape everyday experiences. And he looks at issues from economic change to intimacy, sexuality and care. You’ll see Thomas on modules such as Anthropology of India and Social Anthropology Theory.

Read more about Thomas

Joint honours options

You can also study this course as part of a joint honours degree. This course can be joined with:

Entry requirements

Wherever possible we make our conditional offers using the UCAS Tariff. The combination of A-level grades listed here would be just one way of achieving the UCAS Tariff points for this course.

Standard offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 104

A Level: BCC

IB Points: 29

BTEC: DMM

Contextual offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 88

A Level: CCD

IB Points: 27

BTEC: MMM

Further offer details

For combined honours, normally the offer will lie between the offers quoted for each subject.

Applications are also welcomed for consideration from applicants with European qualifications, international qualifications or recognised foundation courses. For advice on eligibility please contact Admissions: admissions@brookes.ac.uk

International qualifications and equivalences

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£15,200

Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£15,950

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£15,200

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£15,950

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400

financefees@brookes.ac.uk

Please note, tuition fees for Home students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning Home students at the maximum permitted level.

Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students. 

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support. 

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.

Information from Discover Uni

Full-time study

Part-time study

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.