UCL Anthropology


Biological Anthropology

Biological Anthropology

Biological Anthropology is the study of the evolution and ecology of humans and other primates, grounded in an understanding of evolutionary history and extending to applied subjects such as conservation and human development.

The UCL Biological Anthropology section is one of the largest groups of academics in Europe that focuses on these subjects. We conduct research on several related themes that also form the core of our teaching programmes:

Human Ecology

  • The interaction between conservation and human development, and rangeland use in sub-Saharan Africa (Katherine Homewood)
  • Human ecology and aquatic resource use in Asia, with application to the management of natural resources (Caroline Garaway)
  • The social dimensions of human-environment relationships, impacts of conservation on well-being, and the governance of pastoralist systems (Emily Woodhouse)

Evolutionary Anthropology

  • Human evolutionary ecology, including life history, cultural evolution and kinship, currently including studies in Africa and China (Ruth Mace)
  • Primate ecology, behaviour, and conservation, with current fieldwork focused on the Gashaka Primate Project in Nigeria (Volker Sommer)
  • Primate origins and evolution, including functional anatomy and the interaction of primate evolution with environmental change (Christophe Soligo)
  • Evolution of human phenotypic and behavioural diversity, life history theory, hunter-gatherer studies (Andrea Migliano)
  • Demography of small scale societies, modelling of language diversification, application of new quantitative methods to evolutionary anthropology (Lucio Vinicius)
  • Palaeoanthropology, human evolution, taxonomy, phylogeny and evolutionary scenario of the Pleistocene hominins, currently including fieldwork and research at the Atapuerca sites and China (Maria Martinon-Torres)

We run a weekly seminar series that cuts across all of these research areas, as well as three MSc programmes: the MSc in Anthropology, Environment and Development, the MSc in Human Evolution and Behaviour, and the MSc in Palaeoanthropology and Palaeolithic Archaeology (with the Institute of Archaeology). 

Biological Anthropology currently has two large grants including an ERC grant on the evolution of cultural norms and a Leverhulme programme grant on Hunter-Gatherer Resilience. It also has close ties to the Centre for Genetic Anthropology and others in GEE at UCL and was a founding member of London Evolutionary Research Network (LERN). Our other teaching and research links with institutions and organisations around London, include the Natural History Museum, the Institute of Zoology and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Our numerous international collaborations include projects with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.