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Durham University Featured Masters Courses

Evolutionary Anthropology (MSc)


Course Description

This course is designed to provide expertise in the study of evolutionary and adaptive processes in primates, both human and non-human, in relation to both extinct and living species. There is a particular focus on primate behaviour, evolutionary psychology, cultural evolution and palaeoenvironments, drawing on the world-class expertise of members of our large Evolutionary Anthropology Research Group.

Many of our former students have gone on to do PhDs, but the course also provides advanced training for those wishing to prepare for a career working in fields such as primate conservation or in museum or educational contexts.

The course is designed for those with an undergraduate degree in anthropology, psychology, biology, zoology or a related discipline.

Course content

This course is designed to provide expertise in the study of evolutionary and adaptive processes in primates, both human and non-human, in relation to both extinct and living species. There is a particular focus on primate behaviour, evolutionary psychology, cultural evolution and palaeoenvironments, drawing on the world-class expertise of members of our large Evolutionary Anthropology Research Group.

All students take the following modules, which provide an essential foundation in theory and methods for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Compulsory modules:
-Dissertation
-Evolutionary Theory
-Statistical Analysis in Anthropology.

Student will then choose 90 credits from a selection of the following:

Previous optional modules have included:
-Academic and Professional Skills in Anthropology
-Evolutionary Perspectives on Western Diseases
-Primate Behaviour
-Cultural Evolution
-Evolutionary Psychology
-Palaeoanthropology and Palaeoecology
-Evolutionary and Ecological Topics in Medicine and Health
-Foreign language option.

Please see http://www.durham.ac.uk/anthropology/postgraduatestudy/taughtprogrammes/evolutionaryanthropology for further information.

Learning and Teaching

The MSc (full-time) consists of two terms of teaching, during which students are introduced to the range of research questions and methods, and a dissertation, involving the design, development and implementation of an independent research project. Students work closely with academic staff, and have the opportunity to become involved in active research projects.

The programme is delivered through a mixture of interactive lectures, seminars, student-led seminars, practical sessions and workshops, in addition to one-to-one dissertation supervision. Typically, lectures deliver key information on progressively more advanced themes and topics. Seminars provide an opportunity to reflect in more depth upon material delivered in lectures and gathered from independent study outside the programme’s formal contact hours. Student-led seminars give students an opportunity to engage with academic issues at the cutting-edge of research in Anthropology, in a learning environment focused on discussion and debate of current issues.

We place an emphasis on independent learning. This is supported by the University’s virtual learning environment, extensive library collections and informal contact with tutors and research staff. We consider the development of independent learning and research skills to be one of the key elements of our postgraduate taught curriculum and one which helps our students cultivate initiative, originality and critical thinking.

Students take required taught modules worth a total of 30 credits, and four optional modules, totalling 90 credits plus a 60-credit dissertation. Full-time students have on average 6-8 hours of formal teaching and learning contact per week. Outside timetabled contact hours, students are also expected to devote significant amounts of time to reading, discussing and preparing for classes, assignments and project work. Following the May assessment period, students undertake their 60 credit dissertation. This crucial piece of work is a significant piece of independent research that constitutes a synthesis of theory, method and practice in anthropology and is supported by an individual supervisor and a dissertation leader.

Throughout the programme, all students meet regularly with the degree tutor, who provides academic support and guidance. Furthermore, all members of teaching staff have weekly office hours when they are available to meet with students on a ‘drop-in’ basis. In term time, the department also has an extensive programme of departmental and research group seminars which postgraduate students are encouraged and expected to attend. The undergraduate Anthropology Society also organises its own visiting lecturer programme. We ensure that we advertise any other relevant seminars and lectures in Durham, Newcastle and further afield, and encourage students to attend relevant conferences.

Before the academic year starts, we provide information on preparation for the course. On arrival we have induction sessions and social events, headed by the Director of Postgraduate Studies and attended by both academic and administrative staff. Students also attend an “Introduction to Research Groups in Anthropology”.

Visit the Evolutionary Anthropology (MSc) page on the Durham University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Course Fees

Full-time: UK/EU: £7,000, International: £15,700, Part-time: UK/EU: £3,900, International: £8,700


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