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Degree type

BSc

Course length

3 years full-time

Location

Durham City

UCAS code

L601

Ready to Apply?

Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level AAB
BTEC DDD
International Baccalaureate 36

Course details

Our BSc Anthropology degree is designed to give you a broad understanding of humanity, from our evolutionary origins to our present day behavioural and cultural diversity. Biological anthropology is closely related to archaeology and primatology, and so you will also gain an appreciation of how humans are related to other species, living and extinct.

You will study biological anthropology in the context of a broad approach to the subject including social anthropology as well as interdisciplinary perspectives on health.

In the first year, you will receive a thorough grounding in the theory and practice of anthropology in the broadest sense, addressing the core disciplines of social and biological anthropology as well as interdisciplinary perspectives on health.

In your second year, you will develop a deeper and more complex grasp of biological and evolutionary anthropology and continue to gain ‘hands-on’ experience of conducting research through a series of local field trips and activities.

In your final year, you will design and carry out your own research project for your dissertation and take part in our residential Field Course Module, an intensive 7-day experience at one of several European destinations, or online as part of our Virtual Field Course.

As you move through your degree, you will shift from being a consumer to a generator of knowledge, ready for professional or postgraduate life. You can also apply to add a placement year or a year abroad to your degree, increasing the course from three years to four.

Course Structure

Year 1

In the first year, all of our single honours Anthropology students take the same core modules. This provides an introduction to diverse areas of anthropology, allowing for more specialisation in the second and third years.

Core modules:

Peoples and Cultures provides an introduction to the peoples and cultures of the world from a social anthropological perspective and prepares you for further critical study of the discipline.

Human Evolution and Diversity introduces how humans evolved over the past few million years to become the unique species we are today, rich in biological and cultural diversity. We also cover our relationships with extinct hominins and our closest primate relatives.

Being Human: An Introduction to the History and Practice of Anthropology provides an overview of the history of anthropology, including the major theoretical developments and debates, and how these affect the practice of anthropology today.

Doing Anthropological Research provides hands-on training in anthropological research methods, both quantitative and qualitative. This module will prepare you for future research projects including fieldwork and your dissertation, and allow you to develop highly transferable research skills.

Health, Illness and Society promotes the value of a multidisciplinary perspective to the study of health and illness, and gives insight into how social, cultural, biological and evolutionary factors interact in the study of health and disease. You will learn about the potential for medical anthropology and evolutionary medicine to contribute to health policy and planning in diverse human societies.

Year 2

Core modules:

Anthropological Research Methods in Action provides opportunities for inquiry-based learning by addressing key anthropological issues beyond the classroom. You will learn to develop and apply research skills relevant to the different areas of anthropology, including field-based research.

Research Project Design builds upon previous methods training by providing the skills necessary to develop independent dissertation projects.

Palaeoanthropology: The Story of Human Evolution will develop your understanding of the patterns and processes of human evolution including speciation and adaptation with particular reference to the hominin fossil record.

Primate Societies allows you to develop your understanding of evolutionary biology as applied to primates, including an understanding of how colonial legacies affect the study of primates today.

Mind and Culture covers the evolution of human cognition and culture in comparative perspective, extending your understanding of humans as primates.

Reading the Skeleton will develop your understanding of human skeletal morphology and diversity, providing a critical awareness of the ethical issues surrounding the collection and curation of human remains.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Biology, Culture and Society
  • Reading Ethnography
  • Anthropology of the Body
  • Critical Global Health
  • Health and Inequality
  • Sex, Reproduction and Health
  • Markets and Exchange
  • Relations and Belonging
  • Ritual, Religion and Belief
  • Power and Inequality
  • Environment, Climate and the Anthropocene.

Year 3 (Year 4 if undertaking a placement year or year abroad)

In your final year, you will design and carry out your own Dissertation on a topic of your choice, which will develop your independent research and project management skills.

You will also take part in our Anthropology Field Course module, an intensive 7-day fieldwork experience at one of the department’s residential field schools, or online as a Virtual Field Course.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Human Reproductive Ecology
  • Evolution of Cooperation
  • Comparative Cognition and Culture
  • Evolution of Music
  • Technological Primates
  • Primates in Peril
  • Primates, Predators and the Ecology of Fear
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Homo narrans: Evolutionary Anthropology of Fiction
  • Paleoanthropology and Palaeoecology

Additional pathways

Students on the Anthropology BSc can apply to be transferred onto either the ‘with Year Abroad’ or ‘with Placement’ pathway during the second year. Places on these pathways are in high demand and if you are chosen your studies will extend from three years to four.

Placement

You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.

Learning

Your learning will be supported by a variety of teaching formats, such as lectures and smaller-group teaching in seminars and practical classes.

Our curriculum places a strong emphasis on inquiry-based learning and transferable skills, with a particular focus on designing and carrying out research projects. At the start of your final year, you will visit one of our residential field schools (or a virtual alternative) to put your anthropological research skills into practice.

The Anthropology Department has a skeletal collection, a fossil cast collection, a material culture collection and other practical resources that are used in relevant modules. You may also be able to use these independently to supplement your learning or for project work.

Assessment

We use a wide range of assessments designed to provide training in a variety of anthropological and broader transferable skills, including not only 'traditional' essays and exams but also research projects, popular academic writing and outreach activities.

In your final year you will have the chance to design and carry out your own anthropological research project for your dissertation, with support and guidance from your supervisor.

Entry requirements

A level offerAAB.

Contextual offer – BBC.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended DiplomaDDD.

IB Diploma score36 with 665 in higher level subjects.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • We also consider other level 3 qualifications, including T-levels.
  • We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study.
  • If you do not satisfy our general entry requirements, the Foundation Programme offers multidisciplinary degrees to prepare you for a range of specified degree courses.
  • If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.

Science A levels

Applicants taking Science A levels that include a practical component will be required to take and pass this as a condition of entry. This applies only to applicants sitting A levels with an English examination board.

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

The tuition fees for 2025/26 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

With a degree in Anthropology, you will be equipped with a diverse and practical knowledge base, including highly transferable skills in research and communication. Employers worldwide value this skill set, particularly where creativity, curiosity and the ability to understand human diversity are at a premium.

Our graduates apply their knowledge directly in fields as diverse as health, community work, conservation, education, international development, culture, and heritage. Many progress into careers that require a broad understanding of human society and behaviour as well as the interpersonal, organisational, problem solving and independent thinking skills that come with the discipline. Such careers include advertising, publishing, journalism, teaching, human resource management, law, consultancy and marketing.

A significant number of graduates progress onto higher level study with many pursuing further research in anthropology or other fields.

Of those students who graduated in 2020-21:

  • 93% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 78% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £25,000.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here www.graduateoutcomes.ac.uk)

Department information

Studying Anthropology at Durham allows you to gain a deep understanding of humanity in all its rich diversity and complexity, helping to navigate the biggest challenges our societies face today.

Join a dynamic and welcoming Department that takes a distinctly broad-based approach to the study of humanity. We are among the largest Anthropology departments in the UK with around 120 students in each year group, and one of the few to combine social, biological and medical aspects of anthropology. You can choose from one of three single-honours programmes or combine Anthropology with Sociology, Psychology or Archaeology as a joint-honours degree. This gives you the chance to explore humanity from multiple perspectives, covering our species' evolution over millions of years up to the present day diversity of human societies.

Our lecturers are passionate, dedicated teachers and researchers, and our modules cover numerous areas that overlap with other subjects, including culture, environmental issues, evolution, genetics, forensics, literature, health, music, politics, primate behaviour, religion, reproduction, skeletal anatomy and many others still. And with a research-led approach, our teaching is constantly evolving to incorporate the latest findings into the curriculum.

Our flexible courses offer the opportunity both to explore the breadth of Anthropology and to specialise in one of our sub-disciplinary areas. We offer a residential field course to all our undergraduate students (as well as a virtual alternative), providing hands-on experience of varied anthropological methods in practice.

For more information see our department pages.

Rankings

  • 23rd in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023

  • 6th in The Guardian University Guide 2024
  • 8th in The Complete University Guide 2024

  • Top 10 in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024.

Staff

For a current list of staff, please see the Anthropology pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 45% of our research was rated as world-leading (REF 2021)

Facilities

We are based in the Dawson Building, conveniently located next to the main library, and close to lots of other departments and university services. We have a common room which students are welcome to use for studying and socialising.

The Department’s research facilities include skeletal, fossil cast and material culture collections available for students to use as part of their learning activities and research projects.

We also house a number of research centres and laboratories including an Infancy and Sleep Centre, a Physical Activity Lab and an Ecology and Endocrinology Laboratory which is equipped to analyse human samples.

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L601

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