How Humans Evolved - ANTB3160

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 4 15 (7.5) Brandon Wheeler checkmark-circle


This module is an introduction to human and primate evolution, and human prehistory. It provides an exciting introduction to humans as the product of evolutionary processes. We will explore primates and primate behaviour, elementary genetics, prehistoric archaeology, and the evolution of our species (and that of our ancestors such as Australopithecines and Neanderthals). Students will develop skills in synthesising information from a range of sources and learn to critically evaluate various hypotheses about primate and human evolution. The module is also suitable for students in other disciplines who want to understand human evolution, and the history of our planet and our species. A background in science is not assumed or required, neither are there any preferred A-levels or other qualifications.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 26
Private study hours: 124
Total study hours: 150


Available as an elective module and to short-term students.

Method of assessment

Essay (2,500 words) (50%)
Exam (2 hours) (50%)

Reassessment: Like for Like

*Exams will be in-person*

Indicative reading

Stanford et al. (eds. 2011), Biological Anthropology, 3rd Edition, Prentice Hall.

Shook et al. (eds. 2019), Explorations: An open invitation to Biological Anthropology. 1st Edition, American Anthropological Association.

Boyd and Silk (2009/2012), How Humans Evolved, W.W. Norton.

Jones et al. (eds. 1994), The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Human Evolution, Cambridge University Press.

Scarre (2005), The Human Past: World prehistory & the development of human societies, Thames & Hudson.

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 Show an understanding of the basic principles of evolution.

8.2 Demonstrate a good understanding of human prehistory.

8.3 Demonstrate familiarity with a range of evidence and theory drawn from the disciplines of palaeoanthropology, evolutionary biology, comparative primatology, quaternary science, bioarchaeology, and prehistoric archaeology.

8.4 Understand the basic origins of human culture, behaviour and language.

8.5 Appreciate humans as biological entities.

8.6 Appreciate spatial and temporal change in palaeoenvironments.

8.7 Understand the basic ecology and behaviour of extant and extinct primates


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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