The MSc in Biological Anthropology is a perfect foundation for PhD research: it provides the theoretical background, discipline-specific knowledge and advanced, quantitative research methods.

Taught by one of the UK’s largest group of biological anthropologists with a demonstrated record of world-class research in human and primate behaviour, human evolution and skeletal biology this innovative one-year MSc allows you to focus your studies through one of two routes:

The Human and Primate Behaviour route combines principles of evolutionary anthropology and the behaviour of human and non-human primates, with aspects of evolutionary social, cognitive, and forensic psychology (formerly MSc in Evolution and Human Behaviour).

The Human Evolutionary Anatomy route focuses on the skeletal biology, functional morphology and evolution of humans and non-human primates.

Both routes emphasize the development of original thinking, training in advanced research methods, and the production of original research. It provides students with transferable skills in data collection, oral and written dissemination of information and professional development opportunities. The MSc in Biological Anthropology provides the theoretical background, discipline-specific knowledge and advanced quantitative research methods necessary to embark on doctoral projects or a wide range of professional careers.

Why study with us?

  • Dedicated mentoring with an expectation that students will develop and conduct a publication-quality research project as part of their degree.
  • Dedicated professional development seminar for biological anthropology post-graduate students with topics including (but not limited to) grant writing, interview skills, analytical methods, work/life balance, professional conduct.
  • Biological Anthropology research seminar series featuring the UK and international scientists.
  • Additional School research seminars in the School of Anthropology and Conservation and School of Psychology.
  • Access to cutting edge laboratory facilities, and training in the latest methods for addressing questions in biological anthropology.
  • Potential opportunity to work directly within the research programmes of world-leading academics.
  • Focused on providing a strong foundation for future PhD research: theoretical background, discipline-specific knowledge and advanced research methods.

Course structure

Outlined below are the compulsory and recommended optional modules for each route. Optional modules may be chosen from the compulsory modules of the other route, other school and other faculty programmes. Both routes involve a quantitative methods module which you must normally pass in order to receive your degree. The teaching assumes that you are already familiar with basic quantitative or scientific methods.

Your programme is made up of at least 180 credits. 60 credits are allocated to your research project. The remaining credits are obtained through taught modules.

Human and Primate Behaviour route

  • SE992 - Advanced Topics in Evolutionary Anthropology (15 credits)
  • SE994 - Advanced Topics in Human Behaviour (15 credits)
  • SE993 - Advanced Topics in Primate Behaviour (15 credits)
  • SE855 - Research Project (60 credits)

Plus one of the following modules (SP801 is preferred for this pathway)

  • SP801 - Statistics and Methodology (40 credits)
  • SE812 - Research Design and Advanced Analytical Methods (15 credits)

Recommended optional modules - at least 15 credits from the following list

  • SE821 - Advanced Topics in Anthropology (15 credits)
  • SP829 - Advanced Topics in Cognition in Action (20 credits)
  • SP851 - Advanced Topics in Cognitive Development (20 credits)
  • SP854 - Advanced Topics in Developmental Psychopathology (20 credits)
  • SP813 - Advanced Topics in Intergroup Relations (20 credits)
  • SP827 - Current Issues in Cognitive Psychology and Neuropsychology (20 credits)
  • SP844 - Groups, Teams and Organisations (20 credits)
  • SP860 - Political Psychology (20 credits)
  • SP853 - The Psychology of Eyewitness Testimony (20 credits)

Human Evolutionary Anatomy route

Additional compulsory modules

  • SE992 - Advanced Topics in Evolutionary Anthropology (15 credits)
  • SE8011 - Advanced Topics in Palaeoanthropology (15 credits)
  • SE8013 - Skeletal Functional Morphology (15 credits)

Plus one of the following modules (SP801 is preferred for this pathway)

  • SP801 - Statistics and Methodology (40 credits)
  • SE812 - Research Design and Advanced Analytical Methods (15 credits)

Recommended optional modules - at least 30 credits from the following list

  • SE814 - Advanced Human Osteology and Anatomy (15 credits)
  • SE821 - Advanced Topics in Anthropology (15 credits)
  • SE994 - Advanced Topics in Human Behaviour (15 credits)
  • SE993 - Advanced Topics in Primate Behaviour (15 credits)
  • SE817 - Growth and Disease of the Human Skeleton (15 credits).

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • provide the opportunity to develop expert knowledge and a sophisticated understanding of particular areas of biological anthropology.
  • provide the opportunity to develop advanced research, writing and oral communication skills of general value to further postgraduate training and employment.
  • provide a degree of specialization in areas of biological anthropology chosen from the subject routes.
  • provide students with opportunities to engage with academics and academic work which are at the frontiers of scholarship in Biological Anthropology.
  • provide students with the skills to undertake supervised research on an agreed topic in their specialization, and encourage the production of research that meets the appropriate standards of scientific scholarship.
  • train students in transferrable skills in preparation for entering academic or other careers.
  • assist those students who are minded to pursue academic research at a higher level in acquiring a sophisticated grounding in research methods.
  • satisfy the Economic and Social Research Council’s requirements for the first year of the “1+3” research training/PhD arrangements.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • historical and contemporary theoretical and philosophical issues underlying the discipline of biological anthropology
  • the major analytic techniques and research methodologies employed by biological anthropology
  • the principles of evolutionary anthropology, evolutionary psychology, human ecology, non-human primate behaviour and communication, human and primate cognition, and methods of primate field study (Human and Primate Behaviour route)
  • the principles of evolutionary anthropology, physiology and growth of the human skeleton, osteology, skeletal functional morphology, and the skeletal and archaeological record of prehistory (Human Evolutionary Anatomy route).

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • effectively apply the knowledge, theory and general principles of biological anthropology to a wide range of topics and situations where relevant practical or theoretical issues are under considerationGeneral learning and study skills
  • apply critical reasoning and learned analytical skills critical and analytical skills
  • formulate and express ideas in a coherent and concise manner through both written and oral means. Ability to express ideas in writing and orally
  • advanced communication skills; including poster or podium presentations of scientific data
  • work in groups to discuss, critically evaluate, formulate and present scientific information
  • use standard computing software for word processing, advanced numerical analysis, and high-quality presentations
  • advanced ability to review and summarise scientific literature on a range of topics relevant to biological anthropology
  • recognise potential alternative arguments, and contrary evidence, to a student’s own opinion and present a reasoned justification for preference
  • reflect constructively on their learning progression.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific:

  • advanced skills to complete an empirical study in an area of biological anthropology, under expert supervision
  • advanced skills to use the major analytic techniques employed by biological anthropologists
  • advanced skills to evaluate and select appropriate methods for researching questions in biological anthropology
  • skills in advanced methods of data collection on living subjects, comprehensive statistical tools relevant to evolutionary psychology, methods of behavioural observation and recording, comprehensive statistical tools relevant to the analysis of behavioural data, and principles of ethology (Human and Primate Behaviour route)
  • advanced skills in the handling and analysis of human skeletal material, detailed analysis of casts of non-human primate and fossil skeletal material, advanced biomechanical principles of the functional morphology of bone, comprehensive statistical tools relevant to the study of anatomy and functional morphology, principles of geochronology and taphonomy (Human Evolutionary Anatomy route).

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • advanced numeracy: develop the skills to analyse data and make sense of statistical materials; integrate numerical and non- numerical information; understand the limits and potentialities of arguments based on quantitative information
  • advanced communication: develop the skills to organise information clearly, write coherently and concisely about the chosen research area and other areas of evolutionary anthropology/psychology, and give oral presentations about these topics
  • working with others: to systematically review the work of others; work cooperatively in groups; understand in-depth ethical principles and the procedures for gaining ethics approval for research
  • improving own learning: critically explore personal strengths and weaknesses; develop the high-level skills of time management; review scrutinise the student-staff relationship; develop specialist learning skills; develop autonomy to a high level in learning
  • specialized information technology: use computers for complex data analysis, word processing, graphical display of data for analysis and presentation, and bibliographical research and documentation; email
  • advanced problem solving: identify and define problems; explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them.


As a School recognised for its excellence in research. Many of our students go on to do PhD research for which there are a range of Scholarship opportunities available. Others use their Master’s qualification in employment ranging from research in government departments, supporting abused women, working in HR and business to teaching and consultancy work overseas.

Higher degrees in anthropology create opportunities in many employment sectors including academia, the civil service and non-governmental organisations through work in areas such as human rights, journalism, documentary film making, environmental conservation and international finance. An anthropology degree also develops interpersonal and intercultural skills, which make our graduates highly desirable in any profession that involves working with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Program taught in:

See 6 more programs offered by University of Kent, School of Anthropology & Conservation »

Last updated April 20, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Sep 2019
1 - 2 years
15,700 GBP
UK/EU: £7500 (Full-time), £3750 (Part-time); Overseas: £15700 (Full-time), £7850 (Part-time)
By locations
By date
Start Date
Sep 2019
End Date
Application deadline

Sep 2019

Application deadline
End Date