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Biological Anthropology

BSc (Hons)

Key facts


UCAS code

LL60

Start dates

September 2020 / September 2021

Location

Headington

Course length

Full time: 3 years

Part time: up to 6 years

UCAS Tariff Points

104

Overview


Do you want to become an expert on the most pressing issues of human origins? When you choose Biological Anthropology at Oxford Brookes, you’re choosing to explore everything from the fossil and skeletal remains of our ancestors, to the importance of our relationship with other primates and with our environment.

You’ll be taught by our team of expert researchers, active all over the world. You’ll join a close-knit and supportive department, internationally acclaimed for its research. We’re one of the few courses in the UK to offer a blend of three key themes: 

  • Human Origins and Archaeology
  • Primate Behaviour and Conservation
  • Human-Environment Interactions.

You’ll enjoy lab-based learning and field trips, from studying the primates at Apenheul Primate Sanctuary, to gaining research insights with the Oxford Wildlife Trade Research Group, the Nocturnal Primate Research Group and the Human Origins and Palæo Environments Research Group. And you’ll gain the skills for a groundbreaking career in our Anthropology in Action module. 

Students working at a table

How to apply


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

If you accept a Conditional offer to this course as your Firm choice through UCAS, and the offer does not include a requirement to pass an English language test or improve your English language, we may be able to make the offer Unconditional. Please check your offer carefully where this will be confirmed for each applicant.

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

Entry requirements

Specific entry requirements

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

Please see the University's standard English language requirements.

International qualifications and equivalences

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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.

Pathways courses for international and EU students

If you do not meet the entry requirements for this degree, or if you would like more preparation before you start, you can take an international foundation course. Once you enrol, you will have a guaranteed pathway to this degree if you pass your foundation course with the required grades.

If you only need to meet the language requirements, you can take our pre-sessional English course. You will develop key language and study skills for academic success and you will not need to take an external language test to progress to your degree.

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.

Credit transfer

Many of our courses consider applications for entry with credit for prior learning. Each application is individually assessed by our credit entry tutors. 

If you would like more information about whether or not you may be eligible for the award of credit, for example from an HND, partly-completed degree or foundation degree, please contact our Admissions team.

We operate the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). All undergraduate single modules are equivalent to 7.5 ECTS credits and double modules to 15 ECTS credits. More about ECTS credits.

Application process

Full time Home / EU applicants

Apply through UCAS

Part time Home / EU applicants

Apply direct to the University

International applicants

Apply direct to the University

Full time applicants can also apply through UCAS

Tuition fees


Please see the fees note
Home/EU full time
£9,250

Home/EU part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£13,900

Home/EU full time
£9,250 (subject to agreement of Office for Students)

Home/EU part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£15,200

International part time
£1,900 per single module

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees


2020 / 21
Home/EU full time
£9,250

Home/EU part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£13,900

2021 / 22
Home/EU full time
£9,250 (subject to agreement of Office for Students)

Home/EU part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£15,200

International part time
£1,900 per single module

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Please note tuition fees for Home/EU students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students.

Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning home and EU students at the maximum permitted level.

Financial support and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

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, if any, are detailed below.

We do not expect students to purchase any compulsory course books, as they are all available in the library. If students wish to purchase additional books to supplement their reading, this is at their own discretion.There is an optional visit of the Apenheul Primate Sanctuary in Apendhorn, Holland. This trip is optional and therefore not included within the course fees.

Studying abroad

Tuition fees are paid as they would be if you remained in the UK, either to Oxford Brookes via your Student Loan or directly to Oxford Brookes according to your preference. You will be responsible for all other costs such as accommodation, purchasing your airfares, travel and health insurance and visas. Funding is available through the Erasmus scheme, and also via some international programmes such as the Santander Student Awards.

Learning and assessment


Your learning will be shaped by the latest research, unlocking your potential for excellence.  

In Year 1, you’ll get to grips with the key ideas of both Biological and Social Anthropology. You’ll gain the core skills you need for your degree, through six introductory modules. 

In Year 2, you’ll take:

  • Human Evolutionary Biology
  • Methods and Analysis in Biological Anthropology
  • Primate Adaptation and Evolution, and 
  • Human Ecology.

You’ll also further enrich your studies by choosing from a range of modules from other subjects, such as

  • Animal Behaviour (Animal Biology and Conservation)
  • Cross-cultural Perspectives in Psychology (Psychology).

In Year 3, you’ll do research on a topic that interests you. So, whether you’re researching how social media affects zoo animals, how to conserve primate habitats, how to compare the frequency of a disease between human populations or the implications of the world’s first jewellery for our understanding of human cognition, you’ll have the support of expert tutors.

Students sitting down using tablet computers

Study modules

Year 1

Compulsory modules

Becoming an Anthropologist

In this module, you’ll visit Oxford's amazing anthropology museums, handle real stone tools, and learn about fieldwork through classroom-based games. You'll gain the core study skills you’ll need to succeed in your degree. You’ll gain fantastic academic skills, allowing you to investigate the nature and scope of anthropology. You'll learn about academic writing and data analysis, you’ll try some key social research methods, and you’ll discover how to make the most of feedback from your lecturers.

Biodiversity

Do plants antagonise each-other? How do animals cooperate to survive? In this module, you’ll dive into the diversity of life. You’ll follow the theory of evolution that links all organisms and their environment. You’ll understand how we classify the living world. And you’ll gain excellent analytical skills as you understand the structure, function and ecological importance of each group. You’ll also develop a detailed understanding of ecosystems and the biosphere, as you explore how primary producers (mainly, plants and animals) interact with their wider environment.

Introduction to Social Anthropology

In this module, you’ll gain the key skills you need to succeed in your degree, You’ll dive into the history and practice of social anthropology, and gain the core knowledge to study it at a more advanced level. You’ll explore the key approaches of anthropologists over the last 30 years.

Primate Societies

Did you know that, aside from humans, there are over 600 species of primates? In this module, you’ll gain fantastic skills for your Biological Anthropology degree, as you explore the diversity of their social behaviour, in order to understand our own. You’ll look at primate social systems, and the way primate populations interact, compromise and adapt through time. You’ll identify key patterns of communication and social interaction among primates in relation to their ecology, energetics, phylogeny (the diversity of a group of organisms) and demography.

Deep History

In this module, you’ll dive into the prehistoric past. You’ll explore key developments in our species, world and human evolution. You’ll also gain key anthropological skills as you review the archaeological, fossil and palaeoenvironmental evidence for human communities. You’ll gain key research skills for your degree, as you use specialist research methods to explore the links between archaeological, geographical and anthropological research.

Introduction to Biological Anthropology

What can biological evolution teach us about humans and other primates? In this module, you’ll build an awareness of key evolutionary principles. You’ll explore the similarities and differences between humans and other primates, and what this suggests about how humans adapt. You’ll explore how biological and social factors affect human variation, and the way we relate to our environment. These include physical variation, growth and development, physical adaptation as well as dietary diversity, subsistence and disease ecology.

Optional modules

Death, Disease and Doctors: Medicine and Society

In this module, you’ll examine the history of sickness and healing in society. You’ll look at how people have viewed medicine and disease, from 1650 to 2000. In seminars, we’ll investigate issues such as:

  • quackery
  • war and medicine
  • forensic medicine
  • disease control
  • public health
  • madness and society
  • sexual health
  • the patient’s view.

Introduction to Physical Geography

In this module, you’ll get to grips with key topics of physical geography, using climate change as an overarching theme. You’ll gain a strong grounding in climate change science, and examine core areas that relate to climate change in physical geography, including environmental processes, systems and management. You’ll gain valuable analytical skills as you analyse current and future developments in physical geography.

Year 2

Compulsory modules

Methods and Analysis in Biological Anthropology

In this module you will get to grips with the core methods and analysis in biological anthropology. You’ll apply these methods to: 

  • evolutionary biology
  • cladistics (the shared characteristics of animals and plants)
  • evolution
  • primatology
  • psychology
  • osteology. 

You’ll gain excellent scientific skills, as you learn the core concepts of scientific method and hypothesis testing. You’ll be introduced to concepts of morphometric analyses, behavioural observation techniques and webometrics. You’ll also explore population genetics and evolutionary systematics. You’ll gain strong statistical knowledge, vital to your future career, as you learn how to use statistics and present results with tables and figures. 

Human Evolutionary Biology and Geography (Alternative Compulsory)

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.

Human Ecology (Alternative Compulsory)

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.

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 the structure, physiology, molecular biology and evolutionary history of primate species. 

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.

Optional modules

Animal Behaviour (Alternative Acceptable)

Why do animals act the way they do? In this module, you’ll dig into the evolutionary forces behind animal behaviour, and its variations. You’ll gain key scientific skills, as you understand the importance of observation and experimentation to understanding animal behaviour. You’ll also look at what influences animal behaviour, how behaviour evolves and how animals acquire new behaviours. You’ll observe real life examples of the importance of animal behaviour in conservation.

Anthropology in Action (Acceptable)

In this module, you’ll kick-start your career, as you explore the wide range of career options open to Anthropology graduates. You’ll put anthropology into practice, using the skills you’ve gained in your degree to explore how anthropology contributes to business, conservation and development. You’ll also look at how anthropology can help us understand human health and wellbeing, and support forensic investigations. 

Becoming Independent Researchers (Acceptable)

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.

Current Trends in Biological Anthropology (Acceptable)

This module is designed for delivery of occasional modules offered by visiting lecturers or by Biological Anthropology Staff for trial runs of new modules.

Human Osteology (Acceptable)

In this module, you’ll discover human bones from archeological sites, and analyse them. You’ll get to grips with palaeopathology (the study of ancient diseases in human and animal remains), and how we use it to study populations now and in the past.

Quatenary Environmental Change (Acceptable)

Sea levels are rising; glaciers are melting and Arctic sea ice is thinning. Life as we know it is changing - forever. But how do these changes compare to the environmental changes of the past? What can the past teach us about the natural and human factors behind climate change? In this module, you’ll examine environmental changes during the Quaternary: the last 2.6 million years in which humans have evolved and spread across the earth. 

Environmental Decision Making

From wind farms to waste disposal facilities, how do individuals and organisations make environmental decisions? In this module, you’ll get to grips with the key theories behind environmental decisions. 

You’ll gain a strong understanding of key decision-making tools and approaches. These include, Multi-Criteria Analysis, Strategic Environmental Assessment and Environmental Management Systems. You’ll also understand the regulations and policies which underpin them. 

Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Psychology (Alternative Acceptable)

What can data from a range of cultures tell us about human emotion, socialisation and the self? In this module, you’ll discover how cross-cultural material can help us uncover key topics in psychology, from the development of cognitive skills, to the relationship between language and thought. You’ll draw material from the work of psychologists, but also research by social and cognitive anthropologists. You’ll gain core critical skills for your degree, as you investigate the connection between human psychology and society, particularly in terms of the individual versus the group.

Year 3

Compulsory modules

Biological Anthropology Dissertation (Compulsory Double Honours Component)

This module gives you the chance to do independent research on a topic that fascinates you. You’ll have the support of our expert tutors, as you use the skills and knowledge you’ve gained from your degree to produce a dissertation on a particular subject. Whether you’re studying the world’s first jewellery and how it relates to human thinking, to the ecology of lemurs in Madagascar, you’ll gain fantastic research skills for your future career, and shape your dissertation around your passions.

Optional modules

Anthropology Independent Study (Acceptable Honours Component)

This module gives you the chance to do independent study on a topic that fascinates you. You’ll dive into any anthropological topic you choose, with the support of expert tutors. We offer great flexibility in how you present your research. This could include:

  • an essay
  • annotated bibiolgraphy
  • ethnographic fieldwork journal
  • video / film
  • a long report.

Cognitive Evolution (Acceptable Honours Component)

How did the human mind evolve? Dive into this most fascinating of questions, as you explore fossil and archaeological records. You’ll draw on recent developments in fields such as evolutionary psychology, cognitive science, linguistics and primatology. You’ll explore human intelligence, and gain core critical skills as you evaluate how key cognitive traits from language and symbolism to tool use developed. You’ll assess the minds of other animal species, and consider the differences between human and non-human minds.  

People and Other Animals (Acceptable Honours Component)

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, and animals as nature. 

Primate Conservation (Acceptable Honours Component)

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.

Palaeopathology (Acceptable Honours Component)

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.

Dawn of Civilisation (Acceptable Honours Component)

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. 

Molecular Anthropology (Acceptable Honours Component)

In this module, you’ll uncover the evolutionary links between ancient and modern humans through molecular anthropology. You’ll explore basic population genetics, phylogenetics and molecular evolution. You’ll also look at the links between humans and other (extinct) primates.

Culture and Care (Acceptable Honours Component)

Why is care so fundamental to human survival and adaptation? In this module, you’ll focus on care as an alternative to anthropological accounts of conflict, competition, and violence.

You will begin by debating 

  • the evolutionary basis for care
  • the evidence of care in prehistoric times
  • notions of empathy, sympathy, and altruism. 

You’ll also examine how different cultures care for children, the disabled and the elderly. You’ll look critically at whether current social institutions deliver care, as well as cure. You will look at how we care for non-human life and the planet. And you’ll gain core research skills for your future career, as you investigate care in the world around you through fieldwork assignments and contribute to the class blog to share your work with the world.

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

Learning and teaching

Our teaching staff are award-winning experts in their fields, and actively involved in research. You’ll have access to the latest thinking, and your learning will be shaped around the current research of staff. This includes: 

  • The earliest human settlements in the Middle East
  • Human-Wildlife conflicts 
  • Primate behaviour and conservation, including great apes and lemurs, in the wild and in captivity
  • Co-evolution of humans and disease
  • Molecular anthropology

You’ll enjoy our active, student-led Anthropology Society. You’ll also have the option to attend a range of seminars featuring invited guest speakers. These include:

  • Anthropology departmental seminar series
  • Primatology and Conservation seminar series.

Field trips

You’ll go on exciting field-trips, where you’ll put your research skills into practice. We offer a visit to the Apenheul Primate Sanctuary in the Netherlands, where you can study the development of free-roaming primates. This is an optional trip for students on the Primate Adaptation and Evolution and Primate Societies modules. You’ll also go on visits to the Oxford Natural History Museum and the Pitt Rivers Anthropological Museum in your first year.

Assessment

Assessment methods used on this course

We provide a range of assessment methods, designed to develop your skills in the workplace. You’ll have some exams, but you can also expect to do:

  • Lab-based assessments
  • Blogs
  • Video diaries
  • Web-based learning
  • Essays
  • Posters
  • Coursework essays.

Study Abroad


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

After you graduate


Career prospects

Biological Anthropology, with its comparative perspective as well as its emphasis on research and human interactions with the environment, gives students flexibility and a wider view of the world which often proves attractive to employers. Our graduates have made successful careers in a wide variety of professions, including research at universities and colleges, contract archaeologists, international development, non-governmental organisations, charity organisations, environment and conservation organisations, zoo keepers or officers, teaching, film and journalism, museum and heritage management, and forensic (medical/legal) consultation (skeletal identification or DNA fingerprinting) for law enforcement agencies. Students also often go on to postgraduate study.

Visiting speakers from various employment sectors including government, international development, non-governmental organisations and charities, and environmental conservation, are invited to deliver lectures and seminars. Researchers from national and international institutions are invited to weekly seminar series hosted by our Faculty Research Centres which include The Anthropology Centre for Conservation, Environment and DevelopmentThe Europe Japan Research CentreThe Centre for Global Politics, Economy and Society, and the seminar series hosted by the Primate Conservation MSc course. Students also have access to the events hosted by the University Careers and Employment Centre.

Further study

Many of our graduates are currently engaged in further study in Anthropology and also in a range of other subjects, such as Environmental Studies, Archaeology, Geography, Animal Biology, Conservation Ecology, and Primate Conservation, with many choosing to continue these studies at Oxford Brookes.

Student profiles


Our Staff


Professor Anna Nekaris

Professor Anna Nekaris is a Professor in Anthropology and Primate Conservation studying the unique group of evolutionary distinct primates known as the Asian lorises. Her studies cover all eleven species, including six she named or elevated from subspecies. Anna is the Course Tutor for the highly acclaimed MSc Primate Conservation, Director of the Little Fireface Project and Convenor of the Nocturnal Primate Research Group.

Read more about Anna

Dr Giuseppe Donati

Over the last twenty years Giuseppe has conducted research on behaviour, ecology, and conservation of lemurs and New World monkeys, and produced numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals or books.

Read more about Giuseppe

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.

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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.