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Jolanta Skorecka
Undergraduate Coordinator
Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 8621

Lucio Vinicius
Admissions Tutor
Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 8649

Anthropology at UCL far exceeded my expectations, the hands-on approach to the learning and the support provided by the lecturers really helped me get involved and enjoy my studies.

Jack Foreman

BSc Anthropology

About the programme

UCL has the largest and most diverse broad-based anthropology department in the UK, comprising approximately 35 leading international scholars in biological anthropology, social anthropology and material culture studies. The department is located in the heart of London, within walking distance of the city’s major cultural attractions.

At UCL, we explore in the round the big questions about humans beings and how they live across the globe. What does it mean to be human? How did our species evolve? How do we understand the diversity of people’s life-ways? We relate those questions to the everyday problems and decisions that shape people’s lives in different parts of the world. You can expect training in the full range of methods, theories and techniques from leading researchers in anthropology, whose work spans the globe.

Ours is broad-based degree for broad-minded people. What distinguishes our degree from other anthropology degrees in the UK is its intellectual breadth, bringing together Social Anthropology, Material Culture, Biological Anthropology and Medical Anthropology under a single programme of study.

Exploring these four fields in relation to each other, our degree is particularly demanding as it requires ability and interest in both science and humanities: some modules require statistical skills or laboratory work while others are based on comparative and theoretical explorations of themes such as religion, politics, technology or fashion.

Our teaching is structured around a combination of lectures, tutorials, seminars and laboratory classes. Weekly tutorials in small groups are an important part of many courses. Ongoing feedback is given to help students improve their written work. Courses may be assessed by written coursework, by examination or a mixture of both. The course is structured around a combination of core courses, which are fixed by us, and optional courses chosen by you from a wide range of possibilities. The core courses ensure that you will maintain a balanced training in social, biological, medical and material culture studies anthropology, while the options allow you to develop specialist skills in a particular theme, region or area of analysis.

The course structure takes the form of a pyramid, with all areas of its broad-base covered through core courses in the first year, and then increasing your freedom to choose options in the second and third year. Some students choose to specialise more and more in one of the three fields of the degree as their studies progress, while others prefer to maintain a more even balance between them throughout – you are very much free to tailor the degree to your own interests. The culmination of your training comes in the final year, in which you will prepare an individual dissertation exploring a topic of your own choice under the one-to-one year-long supervision by a member of staff. So, in more detail, the degree structure is this:

Degree structure

In each year of your degree you will take a number of individual modules, normally valued at 0.5 or 1.0 credits, adding up to a total of 4.0 credits for the year. Modules are assessed in the academic year in which they are taken. The balance of compulsory and optional modules varies from programme to programme and year to year. A 1.0 credit is considered equivalent to 15 credits in the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

In the first year, you take compulsory modules covering the three branches of the programme; biological anthropology, social anthropology and material culture. Biological anthropology focuses on contemporary human-environment interactions and human evolution. Social anthropology explores social and cultural differences and their determinants, from indigenous groups to modern western economies. Material culture studies human, social and environmental relationships through the evidence of people's construction of their material world.
Your first year also includes a three-day field trip to discover ethnographic research and participant observation in ritual, landscape, and techniques

Your second year includes both compulsory and optional modules. In the third year, you select five optional modules from a wide range alongside a dissertation.


An indicative guide to the structure of this programme, year by year.

Year One
Compulsory modules

Introduction to Biological Anthropology
Introduction to Material and Visual Culture
Introductory Social Anthropology
Methods and Techniques in Biological Anthropology
Researching the Social World

Optional modules

All first-year modules are compulsory.

Year Two
Compulsory modules

Theoretical Perspectives in Social Anthropology and Material Culture
Being Human

Optional modules

You will select a minimum of 2.5 and a maximum of 3.0 credits from Anthropology optional modules which must include choices in biological, social, material culture and medical anthropology.

Anthropology of Art and Design
Anthropologies of Science, Society and Biomedicine
Anthropology of the Built Environment
Ethnography of Forest People
Fishers and Fisheries Anthropology, Aquatic Resources and Development
Human Behavioural Ecology
Political and Economic Anthropology
Population Studies

You may take up to a maximum of 0.5 credits from other undergraduate elective modules outside the department.

Final Year
Compulsory modules

Individual Studies in Anthropology

Optional modules

You will select a minimum of 2.0 and a maximum of 2.5 credits from all final-year Anthropology options. These may include:

Anthropology and Psychiatry
Anthropology of Ethics and Morality
Ethnographic and Documentary Film Making - a practice-based introduction
Evolution and Human Behaviour
Reproduction, Fertility and Sex
Ritual Healing and Therapeutic Emplotment
Temporality, Consciousness and Everyday Life
The Anthropology of Nationalism, Ethnicity and Race

You may take up to a maximum of 0.5 credits from other undergraduate elective modules outside the department.

Your learning

Our teaching comprises lectures, tutorials, seminars and laboratory classes. Small-group tutorials, normally meeting weekly, are an important part of many modules. Ongoing feedback is given to help you improve your written work.


Your modules may be assessed by written coursework, by examination or a mixture of both. Examinations are normally unseen and their formats vary according to the module. Some combine short answers with essay questions, others rely solely on longer essay answers.


The broad range of methodological skills and analytical perspectives offered by the UCL Anthropology programme gives our graduates an unusually wide range of career possibilities, many of them directly related to the discipline's cross-cultural focus and to our blending of the social and biological sciences.

Former graduates work in diverse fields, such as journalism, film-making, TV, museums, social work, international development, NGOs and the voluntary sector, police, probation, refugee work, wine tasting, market research, advertising, design, PR, marketing, music industry, accountancy, local government, HR, ESL teaching, and as cultural advisors for multinationals.


First career destinations of recent graduates (2012-2014) of this programme include:

  • Management Consultancy Analyst, Accenture
  • Full-time student, PhD in Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Full-time student, MA in Public Policy at King's College London
  • Business Development Executive, Diageo
  • Research Analyst, Enders Analysis

*Data taken from the 'Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education' survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2012-2014 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

UCL is commited to helping you get the best start after graduation. Read more about how UCL Careers, UCL Advances and other entrepreneur societies here: Careers and skills.

This range of books covers the different aspects of Anthropology but there are many others which are equally appropriate. 

You can also read the papers written by academics in the Department.

Biological Anthropology:

  • Diamond, J. (1998)  Guns, Germs & Steel. Vintage, London.
  • Diamond, J. (2012) The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? Allen Lane, London.
  • Dunbar, R. (2010) How Many Friends Does One Person Need? Dunbar's Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks. Faber and Faber, London. 
  • Homewood, K. (2008) Ecology of African Pastoralist Societies. James Currey: Oxford.
  • Hrdy, S. (2011) Mothers and Others. The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding. Harvard, Cambridge: MA.  
  • James, W. (2003) The Ceremonial Animal: A new portrait of anthropology. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Martin, R. (2013) How We Do It: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction. Basic Books, New York.    
  • Pinker, S. (2007) The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature. Viking, New York.    
  • Stringer, C. (2012) The Origin of Our Species. Penguin, London.   
  • Tattersal, I. (2013) Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins. Mcmillan Science, London.    
  • de Waal, F. (2013) The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism among the Primates. WW Norton, New York.    
  • Wood, B. (2006) Human Evolution: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford.    
  • Wrangham, R. (2010) Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. Profile Books, London.

Material Culture:

  • Buchli, V. (2002) The Material Culture Reader. Berg Publishers. Oxford.
  • Geismar, H. (2013) Treasured Possessions: indigenous interventions into cultural and intellectual property. Duke University Press.
  • Küchler, S. (2009) Tivaivai: The Social Fabric of the Cook Islands London: British Museum & Te Papa Press; with Andrea Eimke, Photographer.
  • Miller, D. (2008) The Comfort of Things. Polity Press.
  • Miller, D. (2012) Consumption and its Consequences. Polity Press.
  • Pinney, C. (2011) Photography and Anthropology. London: Reaktion Books & Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  • Tilley, C. (2010) Interpreting Landscapes. Left Coast Press, CA.
  • Woodward, I. (2007) Understanding Material Culture. SAGE Publications Ltd

Social and Cultural Anthropology:

  • Astuti, Rita, et al (eds.) (2007) Questions of Anthropology. Oxford: Berg (a more recent collection of introductory essays on key topics by British anthropologists)
  • Eriksen, Thomas H. (2001) Small Places, Large Issues: an Introduction to Social and Cultural anthropology. London: Pluto Press (a readable 101-type text)
  • Gay y Blasco, Paloma & Huon Wardle. (2007) How To Read Ethnography. London: Routledge (an excellent introductory account of the significance of ethnographic writing in anthropology)
  • Ingold, Tim (ed.) (1996) Key Debates in Anthropology. Oxford: Berg. (collection of annual debates on anthropological topics held in Britain in the 1980s and 1990s – excellent as introductions to each topic. For more recent debates visit the Group for Debates in Anthropological Theory (GDAT) web page)
  • Keesing, Roger. (1997) Cultural Anthropology: a Contemporary Perspective. New York and London: Harcourt Brace (a broad and very well put together introduction)
  • Kuper, Adam. (1991) Anthropology and Anthropologists: The Modern British School. Routledge London (good as an introduction to the development of social anthropology in Britain).

Medical Anthropology

  • Dettwyler Katherine (1993)  Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa. Waveland Press.
  • Fadiman Emily (1997) The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York.
  • Martin Emily (2001) The woman in the body: a cultural analysis of reproduction. Beacon Press, Boston.
  • Skloot, Rebecca (2010) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Macmillan.

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