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Welcome to the Department of Anthropology

We are an integrated department offering an inclusive environment where staff work within and across disciplinary and sub-disciplinary boundaries.

The assessment of our work in REF 2021 attests to research excellence across Social Anthropology, Evolutionary Anthropology and Anthropology of Health, with world-leading impact and research environment.

Find out more about us
45% of our research was rated as world-leading (REF 2021)
29 in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022
Top 10 in The Complete University Guide 2022
Fieldwork is core to our taught programmes

Pioneering research in infant sleep safety

Our anthropologists have revolutionised research into infant sleep safety and helped reduce rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Organisations in the UK and beyond have benefited from our experts’ research. They include, among others, Unicef, Public Health England, NHS Trusts, Lullaby Trust, La Leche League, the UK’s Department of Health, National Childbirth Trust, NHS Choices, Scottish Maternal and Child Health Division, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Twins and Multiple Births Association.
Read the full case study
Parents lying next to babies in bed

About Us

We are a large, diverse department integrating Evolutionary, Social and Health Anthropology.

  • We deliver top quality research with societal impact.  
  • We have world-leading expertise in energy use, global health, infant sleep, political anthropology, primatology and the evolution of cognition.  
  • We are one of the most diverse departments in the university in terms of the background of our staff and the number of women in research leadership roles. 
  • In the past REF cycle the Department won grant income from 41 funding bodies, including five Research Councils. 
  • We offer rigorous and comprehensive postgraduate research training. 

Anthropology REF Impact Case Studies

Anthropology case studies.

Click below to read more about our case studies.

Mother-infant proximity in the postnatal period

Our findings led to changes in recommended best practice in postnatal care in the United Kingdom and overseas.
baby with mother looking over them

Introducing survivor-led guidelines for recording testimonies of sexual violence during conflict

Nayanika Mookherjee co-developed sexual violence survivor-led guidelines and a graphic novel which are being nationally and internationally used.
Sexual violence conflict

Changing approaches to infant sleep safety

Our research evidence underpinned a rethink of official infant sleep safety guidance in the United Kingdom.
Parent and sleeping baby

 

 

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Research Themes

Our three thematic subject groups enable development and exchange of knowledge and expertise. Staff and graduate students belong to one or more of these groups, as suited to their academic interests: Anthropology of Health, Evolutionary Anthropology, and Social Anthropology.

More about our Research Themes

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The Department supports interdisciplinary research across several the University’s institutes, centres and research networks. 

Members of the department are directors and co-directors of a number of University research centres: 

  • Cultural Evolution Research Centre 
  • Centre for the Study of Jewish Culture, Society and Politics 
  • Research Methods Centre 
  • Durham Infancy and Sleep Centre 
  • Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution Research Centre 

More information about our research, including research centres and institutes, projects and outreach, can be found below.

  • Durham Infancy and Sleep Centre

    The Durham Infancy and Sleep Centre, headed up by Professor Helen Ball, is the home for a group of researchers examining various aspects of infant and child sleep and parenting behaviour.
    Two women and their babies outside of the Infancy and Sleep Centre
  • Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution Research Centre

    The Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution Research Centre draws together a critical mass of leading researchers and integrates a diverse set of methodological expertise and disciplinary perspectives to enhance research and collaboration at the cutting edge of behaviour, ecology and evolution.
    BEER Logo

Durham Infancy and Sleep Centre

The Durham Infancy and Sleep Centre, headed up by Professor Helen Ball, is the home for a group of researchers examining various aspects of infant and child sleep and parenting behaviour.
Two women and their babies outside of the Infancy and Sleep Centre

Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution Research Centre

The Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution Research Centre draws together a critical mass of leading researchers and integrates a diverse set of methodological expertise and disciplinary perspectives to enhance research and collaboration at the cutting edge of behaviour, ecology and evolution.
BEER Logo