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Biological Anthropology

BSc (Hons)

Key facts

UCAS code


Start dates

September 2020



Course length

Full time: 3 years

Part time: up to 6 years


Department of Social Sciences

UCAS Tariff Points



Oxford Brookes is one of few UK universities to offer a BSc in Biological Anthropology. It is the study of:

  • our evolutionary history
  • responses to environmental challenges
  • and our relationship to the other primates.

Our degree focuses on three themes:

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

Our teaching staff are experts in their fields and active researchers in the conservation of primate species. They have experience in sociocultural and biological anthropology as well as archaeology and primatology.

We have an active student-led Anthropology Society. You’ll also have the option to attend a range of seminars featuring invited outside speakers. These include:

  • Anthropology departmental seminar series
  • Primate Conservation seminar series
  • Europe Japan Research Centre seminar series.
Students working at a table

How to apply

Typical offers

UCAS Tariff Points: 104

A Level: BCC

IB Points: 29


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

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:

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


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

Home/EU part time
£750 per single module

International full time

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

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

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

Home/EU full time

Home/EU part time
£750 per single module

International full time

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

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

International full time

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.

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.

Financial support and scholarships

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

Additional costs

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

In Year 1 you’ll gain an understanding of the key ideas of both Biological and Social Anthropology. You’ll study four introductory modules to gain essential knowledge and skills.

In Year 2 you must take Methods and Analysis in Biological Anthropology. You can also choose from a range of modules in subjects such as:

  • Biological Anthropology
  • Social Anthropology
  • Geography
  • Animal Biology
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Psychology.

In Year 3 you will take a total of at least 6 honours modules. This includes your own research project for the compulsory Biological Anthropology Dissertation. Your dissertation will build on the skills developed during the previous two years.

Students sitting down using tablet computers

Study modules

Year 1

Compulsory modules

Deep History

This module provides an introduction to the study of the prehistoric past, exploring the key developments which have shaped both our species and our world. We will examine core themes in human evolution and review the archaeological, fossil and palaeoenvironmental evidence for the prehistoric development of human communities. Throughout this module we will explore the interdisciplinary nature of archaeology, investigating the close links between archaeological, geographical and anthropological research.

Introduction to Environmental Geography

Introduction to Biological Anthropology

A basic 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.

Introduction to Japanese Society and Culture

An introduction to the study of modern Japanese society and culture, primarily from an anthropological perspective, but also incorporating overviews of Japan’s history and religions. Topics covered include the cultural basis of Japanese patterns of behaviour; marriage, family and kinship; work and employment; and popular culture.

Introduction to 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.

Optional modules

Biodiversity (Double Module)

This module takes an integrated approach to the diversity of life. It looks at the classification of the living world, the theory of evolution that links all biology and interactions between organisms and their environment. The module concentrates on major structures and patterns in plants, animals and fungi, how they vary within each kingdom and the interrelationships of some of the phyla. Structure is related to function throughout, with the ecological context and importance of each group. Populations and communities and the impact of environment on behaviour are addressed. The interactions between primary producers, mainly plants, and animals, both antagonistic and mutualistic and between both and the wider environment will be examined to understand the functioning of ecosystems and the biosphere.

In addition you may choose any available Year 1 modules.

Year 2

Compulsory modules

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 ultimate preparation for the dissertation.

Human Ecology (Alternative Compulsory)

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.

Human Evolutionary Biology and Geography (Alternative Compulsory)

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.

Primates Adaptation and Evolution (Alternative Compulsory)

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.

Optional modules

Animal Behaviour (Alternative Acceptable)

An advanced study of the physiological, morphological and evolutionary mechanisms underlying behavioural traits and their variation in animals. The module emphasizes the importance of observation and experimentation to our understanding of behaviour and develops deep reading skills through the study of key primary research papers. Consideration is given to the influences of resource type and quality on animal behaviour, the evolution of behavioural traits and the acquisition of new behaviours. Interactions between behaviour and morphology and the constraints imposed on behaviour by physiology are also emphasised. Case studies examine the importance of animal behaviour in conservation.

Anthropology in Action (Acceptable)

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.

Anthropology of Relatedness (Alternative Acceptable)

This module introduces students to the anthropology of relatedness; as well as exploring the broader economic and political forces that shape relationships within households and family networks.

Becoming Independent Researchers (Acceptable)

Designed to complement U20126 (Methods and Analysis in Biological Anthropology), the aim of this module is to allow students to develop the motivation, skills and discipline needed to become successful independent researchers.

Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Psychology (Alternative Acceptable)

Examines the relevance of cross-cultural material to key topics in psychology including emotion, socialization, the self, the development of cognitive skills, the relationship between language and thought, and intercultural communication.

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.

Environmental Anthropology (Alternative Compulsory)

This module takes a biosocial approach to understanding how humans inter-relate with their physical and biotic environment and the implications for human populations past, present and future.

Environmental Decision Making: Theory and Practice (Alternative Acceptable)

An examination of environmental decision making and the tools available to aid the decision-making process. This module examines the theoretical and historical context of the development of environmental decision-making tools, their regulatory base and their practical application. In particular the module examines the use of Environmental Impact Assessment and its application to major projects; the application of Strategic Environmental Assessment to land use plans; the use of sustainability appraisal techniques; the application of Appropriate Assessment procedures for projects affecting protected habitats; and the use of environmental audits within organisations.

Human Osteology (Acceptable)

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 lab-based sessions. Special emphasis will be placed on the study of palaeopathology and its use in studying populations within a comparative framework.

Quatenary Environmental Change (Acceptable)

We are in the grip of global warming: sea levels are rising; glaciers are melting, Arctic sea ice is thinning, meteorological events are becoming more extreme. But how do these changes compare with the environmental changes that have occurred in the past? What can we learn from the past to help us better understand how natural and human factors may interact to change our climate and environment in the future? Quaternary Environmental Change examines environmental changes that have taken place during the Quaternary: the last 2.6 million years of geological history and time during which humans have evolved and spread across the Earth. The module aims to convey the relevance of palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatic studies to current environmental and climatic concerns.

Personhood, Gender and the Body in Contemporary Japan (Alternative Acceptable)

This module introduces anthropological perspectives on personhood, gender and the body and examines these with reference to ethnographic material from Japan.

Primate Societies (Acceptable)

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.

Year 3

Compulsory modules

Biological Anthropology Dissertation (Compulsory Double Honours Component)

An opportunity for students to explore one topic in order to produce a dissertation demonstrating independent study at an advanced level.

Optional modules

Anthropology Independent Study (Acceptable Honours Component)

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.

Cognitive Evolution (Acceptable Honours Component)

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.

Culture and Care (Acceptable Honours Component)

Explores anthropological approaches to the human capacity for various kinds of care, nurturance, and social support.

Dawn of Civilisation (Acceptable Honours Component)

For 3 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 until 1,000 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.

Molecular Anthropology (Acceptable Honours Component)

This course in molecular anthropology covers basic population genetics, phylogenetics and molecular evolution. Contemporary molecular analysis is used to determine evolutionary links between ancient and modern humans, between contemporary human populations, as well as between humans and other (extinct and extant) primates.

Palaeopathology (Acceptable Honours Component)

This advanced honours 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 lab-based sessions. Special emphasis will be placed on the study of palaeopathology and its use in studying populations within a comparative framework. Students will be expected to engage in independent research and analysis of both primary material and the methods of the subject.

People and Other Animals (Acceptable Honours Component)

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’.

Primate Conservation (Acceptable Honours Component)

The living primates, including humans, are currently faced with numerous global threats their conservation. From forest loss, to climate change, to the impacts that occur when non-human primates come face-to-face with humans, ranging from hunting for trade to the complexities of co-existence, our non-human primate relatives are at greater risk of extinction than ever before. In this module, we cover the major challenges facing primates and develop strategies to help conserve our closest relatives. The student will be introduced to the order Primates, with a focus on the most threatened taxa. The student will gain in an understanding in the global process of how species gain their threat status, and how national and international legislation protects them, and the effectiveness of such legislation.

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 draws on current research by our teaching staff. They include:

  • the archaeology of the earliest human settlements in the Middle East
  • research on Primates in Africa and Asia.

All modules include:

  • lectures
  • illustrated lectures
  • films
  • seminars
  • tutorials.

Some modules also include:

  • practical classes
  • group work
  • excursions.

Laboratory-based classes are common for the modules about:

  • human and non-human primate evolution
  • anatomy
  • molecular anthropology
  • prehistoric archaeology.

We also provide training sessions on analysis to help you develop learning, research and IT skills.

Field trips

There is an optional visit of the Apenheul Primate Sanctuary in Apendhorn, the Netherlands. This is an optional trip offered to students on the modules Primate Adaptation and Evolution and Primate Societies.

This trip is optional and therefore not included within the course fees. You will be responsible for your own accommodation, transport and living costs. Please bear in mind that costs can vary depending on the GBP-Euro exchange rate. On average, the cost for this trip is approximately £130 including transport, two nights bed and breakfast, and two days entry to the primate park.


Assessment methods used on this course

In Year 1 assessment is by both coursework and examination.

In Years 2 and 3 many modules are assessed by coursework and examination.

Assessment methods include:

  • exams
  • coursework essays
  • in-class tests
  • group and individual presentations
  • laboratory practical workbooks
  • participation in seminars.

Study Abroad

Anthropology students can benefit greatly from time spent living in a culture that is different from their own, and studying abroad is a popular option.

You may be able to go on a European or international study exchange while you are at Brookes - we have more than 100 partner universities around the world! Most exchanges take place in the second year.

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.

Information from Discover Uni

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.