Masters degrees in Evolution offer postgraduate training in the study of organisms’ developmental adaptations to their environment through mechanisms of heredity and biological change. Specialisations include: Human Evolution including Behaviour, Language and Cognition; Animal Evolution including Ecology; Evolutionary Biology and Ethnobiology.
Entry requirements normally include an undergraduate degree in a relevant science subject. Postgraduates with experience in other fields may also be equipped to study theoretical and philosophical aspects of Evolutionary theory and its impacts.
Courses in Evolution and Evolutionary Biology trace the developmental changes within organisms through a multitude of techniques. More science-based programmes explore analysis of genetics and molecular responses through methods such as computational biology. Interpreting and generating data through activities such as lab testing - including manipulating tissue culture and bioimaging - are a key component of most programmes. Archaeological techniques in palaeobiology and palaeobotany are also explored, such as taking skeletal measurements or carrying out excavations.
Careers may range from positions in NGOs (community development, nature conservation), government organisations (national statistics, health programmes), in zoos and museums (overseeing collections, co-ordination research), or careers in academia. If the latter is of most interest to you, a Masters in Evolution is excellent preparation for a PhD.
Joining our world-leading Language Evolution and Computation (LEC) research unit, you will investigate the origins and evolution of human language, tackling questions such as ‘what is it that makes us human?’, ‘how did our brains evolve?’ and ‘what are the origins of human language?’.
The LEC is at the cutting edge of research in this area and one of the world’s biggest research groups working on language evolution. You will have the opportunity to become involved with the unit’s research effort, and to make your own contribution to this dynamic field through your dissertation.
The programme focuses on a treatment of language as a dynamic evolving system, bringing together origins, acquisition and change.
It provides a broad introduction to the field of language evolution and cognitive evolution, and can form the basis for further (typically PhD) study for those wishing to continue their research.
The programme draws on many disciplines in the University, including archaeology, biology, linguistics, neuroscience, informatics, philosophy and psychology.
The programme involves two taught semesters and your own research dissertation. Five compulsory courses (in addition to the compulsory dissertation) provide a solid foundation, while optional courses allow you to explore your own areas of interest.
The taught element is delivered through a mix of lectures, tutorials, seminars and practical sessions. Assessment is by written/project work and examination.
Option courses may include:
You may also be able to take a course from other degree programmes in the School of Philosophy, Psychology & Language Sciences, and in some cases from elsewhere in the University.
On successful completion of this programme, you will have gained:
This programme provides solid grounding for further research in many associated areas, such as linguistics, cognitive sciences and human evolution.
Our Evolution and Human Behaviour MRes is a research-based course with a taught component that is equivalent to an MSc. It provides a springboard into a career that involves a working knowledge of scientific research.
The course is designed for graduates with a BSc in the life sciences, psychology or anthropology. Fully qualified or intercalating MBBS or BDS students can also apply. It can be taken either as a stand-alone qualification or as an entry route onto a PhD or MD.
The taught component of the course includes training in research approaches relevant to the area of Evolution and Human Behaviour. You have the flexibility to develop your own bespoke course by selecting a set of three complementary modules. Recommended modules, include:
-Comparative Cognition (MMB8043)
-Sensory Systems (MMB8019)
-The Biological Basis of Psychiatric Illness and its Treatment (MMB8010)
You will also participate in training in general research principles, and other professional and key skills.
The core module on the biological study of behaviour introduces the central questions related to Evolution and Human Behaviour research (adaptive consequences, proximate mechanisms, development, and evolutionary history) and the research methods associated with each. Other relevant modules focus on:
-Psychiatric disorders and their treatment
Research-led seminars delivered by members of the Centre for Behaviour and Evolution cover evolutionary psychology areas such as:
-Human mate choice
-Altruism and cooperation
-Food choices and obesity
-Comparative and developmental psychology of cognition
Your research project comprises the major element of the course. This project will involve 24 weeks of research in an area of Evolution and Human Behaviour under the supervision of an expert academic researcher in the field.
The course allows you to experience an internationally competitive research area, predominantly in academia but also potentially in industry. Graduates from our programme have gone on to competitive PhD studentships, as well as jobs in psychology and in research.
Evolution and Human Behaviour MRes is one of a suite of MRes courses that you may also be interested in. See Programme information in our online Prospectus for full details.
Our Medical Sciences Graduate School is dedicated to providing you with information, support and advice throughout your research degree studies. We can help and advise you on a variety of queries relating to your studies, funding or welfare.
Our Research Student Development Programme supports and complements your research whilst developing your professional skills and confidence.
You will make an on-going assessment of your own development and training needs through personal development planning (PDP) in the ePortfolio system. Our organised external events and development programme have been mapped against the Vitae Researcher Development Framework to help you identify how best to meet your training and development needs.