We produce innovative, interdisciplinary research to understand and influence a changing world. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework, our research was rated as world-leading and of international quality.

As a School we engage with local, national and international partners to produce high-quality research that has a positive impact in the wider community. By combining laboratory research with fieldwork, academic staff and students are able to monitor and survey in depth a variety of topics, ranging from ethnographic studies to forensic bioarchaeology, species conservation and land-use changes.

Our research is grouped into four key areas:

World-leading experts

Our lecturers work at the leading edge of research, exploring human evolution, threats to biodiversity and our relationships with the world around us.

Fragments of early human skulls
''Neo'' skull from Lesedi Chamber (right) with DH1 Homo naledi skull from Dinaledi Chamber (left). Wits University/ John Hawks. Cropped and flipped

New insights into human evolution

Palaeoanthropologists Tracy Kivell and Matt Skinner’s fossil analysis of the earliest humans

Broader research and professional links

The breadth of our research makes the School an attractive and dynamic place to study. Areas of research include:

  • social and cultural anthropology
  • biological and evolutionary anthropology
  • ethnobotany and environmental anthropology
  • forensic osteology and paleoanthropology
  • conservation biology and genetics
  • human geography
  • international wildlife trade.

The reputation and expertise of our academic staff has attracted substantial research funding over the last 10 years from bodies such as the European Research Council (£1.6 million awarded to Professor Zoe Davies), the British Academy (£242,000 awarded to Dr Emmy Bocaege) and the Marie Curie-Skłodowska Foundation (£156,000 awarded to Dr Alanna Cant).

Our staff use their research to increase understanding of our evolutionary history, improve conservation practice, propose novel approaches to the challenges of conservation and environmental management and better understand human interactions within their environment. They seek to challenge perceptions of anthropology and conservation through ground-breaking projects run in collaboration with partnerships all over the world.

Visit our People page to discover more about our academic staff, their research and supervision opportunities.