Foundations of Biological Anthropology - SE302

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 2)
Autumn and Spring 4 30 (15) DR S Johns checkmark-circle


This module is an introduction to biological anthropology and human prehistory. It provides an exciting introduction to humans as the product of evolutionary processes. We will explore primates and primate behaviour, human growth and development, elementary genetics, prehistoric archaeology, the evolution of our species, origins of agriculture and cities, perceptions of race, forensic anthropology, and current research into human reproduction and sexuality. Students will develop skills in synthesising information from a range of sources and learn to critically evaluate various hypotheses about primate and human evolution, culture, and behaviour. This module is required for all BSc and BA Anthropology students. The module is also suitable for students in other disciplines who want to understand human evolution, and the history, biology, and behaviour of our species. A background in science is not assumed or required, neither are there any preferred A-levels or other qualifications


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Total contact hours: 50
Private study hours: 250
Total study hours: 300


This module is compulsory for BSc Anthropology (and associated year abroad programmes), BSc Biological Anthropology (and associated year abroad programmes) BA Social Anthropology (and associated year abroad programmes). Available as a Wild Module. Only suitable for short-course students who are in the UK for both terms

Method of assessment

Essay 1 (1,000 words) (25%)
Essay 2 (1,000 words) (25%)
Note: Only the best mark from these two essays counts towards the final module mark
Course Quiz, 40 minutes (25%)
Examination, 3 hours (50%).

Indicative reading

Boyd & Silk "How Humans Evolved", W.W. Norton, 2006
Jones, et al "The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution", Cambridge University Press
Stanford, et al "Biological Anthropology", Prentice Hall, 2009
Scarre, "The Human Past", Thames & Hudson, 2005

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Show an understanding of the basic principles of evolution.
Demonstrate a good understanding of human prehistory and biology
Demonstrate familiarity with a range of evidence and theory drawn from the disciplines of palaeoanthropology, evolutionary biology, comparative primatology, quaternary science, bioarchaeology, medical anthropology, forensic anthropology, evolutionary psychology, and prehistoric archaeology.
Understand the basic origins of human culture, behaviour and language.
Appreciate humans as biological and cultural entities
Appreciate spatial and temporal change in palaeoenvironments.
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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