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UCL Anthropology

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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, our weekly seminar series that cut across our research areas, as well as three postgraduate taught programmes: Anthropology, Environment and Development MScHuman Evolution and Behaviour MScPalaeoanthropology and Palaeolithic Archaeology MSc (with the UCL Institute of Archaeology).

Human Ecology

UCL Anthropology’s Human Ecology Research Group (HERG) focuses, on the one hand, on the impact of resource policy and management on people’s livelihoods, health and wellbeing, and on the other, on the impacts of changing resource use on the environment and biodiversity. Our research group uses the human ecological perspective, with our academic staff members having particular interest in:

  • 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)

Undergraduate modules offered by members of HERG may include topics such as: Fishers and Fisheries; Humans, Ecosystems and Conservation; Ethnography of Forest People; Human Ecology. 

We also offer a one-year taught master’s degree, the Anthropology, Environment and Development MSc.

Evolutionary Anthropology

  • Human evolutionary ecology, including life history, cultural evolution and kinship, currently including studies in Africa and China (Ruth Mace)
  • Sociality and social structure, kinship, mathematical and computational modelling of social evolution, hunter-gatherer studies (Mark Dyble)
  • Childrearing systems in developed populations, consequences of alloparenting, social support, applied evolutionary anthropology and public health (Emily Emmott)
  • Evolutionary approaches to human behaviour and health: social learning and cultural evolution; social networks, childrearing practices, dietary patterns and physical activity levels in Congo hunter-gatherers and implications on the diseases of modernity (Gul Deniz Salali)
  • Primate ecology, behaviour, and conservation, with current fieldwork focused on the Gashaka Primate Project in Nigeria (Volker Sommer) and the Tsaobis Baboon Project in Namibia (Alecia Carter)
  • Origins and evolution of primate radiations, including evolutionary anatomy and the interaction of primate evolution with environmental change (Christophe Soligo)
  • Palaeoanthropology, Pleistocene hominins, dental anthropology, human brain evolution, quantitative approaches to the study of human evolution at macro- and microevolutionary scales (Aida Gómez-Robles)

The Evolutionary Anthropology research cluster 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, including 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, Evolutionary Anthropology Lab at the University of Tokyo, and with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.