Foundations of Biological Anthropology - ANTB3020

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Combined Autumn and Spring Terms 4 30 (15) Brandon Wheeler 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, the evolution of our species, origins of agriculture and cities, perceptions of race and diversity, 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 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. The module is team-taught by the biological and social anthropology staff.


Contact hours

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


This module is compulsory for BSc Anthropology and BSc Human Biology and Behaviour.

Method of assessment

• Essay 1 (1,000 words) (25%)
• Course Quiz, 40 minutes (25%)
• Examination, 3 hours (50%)

Reassessment method
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*Exams will be in-person*

Indicative reading

Stanford et al. (2011). Biological Anthropology. Prentice Hall.
Shook et al. (2019). Explorations: An open invitation to Biological Anthropology. 1st Edition.
American Anthropological Association.
Boyd and Silk (2017). How Humans Evolved. 8th edition. W.W. Norton.
Jones et al. (eds. 1994). The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Human Evolution. Cambridge University
Scarre (2005). The Human Past. Thames & Hudson.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

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 and biology.
8.3 Demonstrate familiarity with a range of evidence and theory drawn from the disciplines of palaeoanthropology, evolutionary biology, comparative primatology, quaternary science, bioarchaeology, medical anthropology, evolutionary psychology, and prehistoric archaeology.
8.4 Understand the basic origins of human culture, behaviour and language.
8.5 Appreciate humans as biological and cultural 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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