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

Lucio Vinicius
Admissions Tutor
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BSc Anthropology with a Year Abroad

About the programme

UCL has the leading broad-based anthropology department in the UK. It is located in the heart of London, within walking distance of the city’s major cultural attractions. At UCL, we pursue the big questions of the human present; thinking about what are the meanings, symbols and practices of the varieties of human cultures and societies? and the human past; addressing questions around how did our species evolveand what does it mean to be human? We relate these questions to the everyday problems and decisions that shape people’s lives. You can expect training in the full range of methods, theories and techniques from leading researchers in a range of sub-fields within anthropology, whose work spans the globe. Like other Anthropology degrees,

UCL Anthropology includes social anthropology, but unlike many others, we also incorporate material culture and biological anthropology. Amongst other things material culture studies takes seriously how new fashions and technologies, from mobile phones to denim jeans to Facebook, are transforming societies throughout the world. In addition, we are also committed to understanding how the past is used in the present through a critical approach to the ever-increasing role of museums, tourism and cultural heritage in the global economy. In addition, we have strong programmes in medical anthropology, ethnographic film, and human ecology and development.

Our teaching is structured around a combination of lectures, small-group discussions and seminars. We aim to provide close and regular contact between students and staff as you progress to more advanced levels of understanding. We have no particular expectations about your GSCE or A level choices, though a background in biology will help you with some of the courses. Sciences, humanities and social sciences are essential to an understanding of human diversity, and here you will learn how they relate to one another, regardless of your educational background so far. We offer opportunities to undertake practical fieldwork, so as to understand how anthropologists obtain information about human societies in the past and present. The skills that we offer are in wide public demand and have prepared former graduates for an extraordinary range of careers, both academic and non-academic. Some of our graduates continue on for specialised masters’ degrees or PhDs whereas others go on to work in international NGOs, government, journalism, market research, medical professions and a wide variety of other careers.

The four-year degree is identical to the three-year BSc with one difference: in your third year you will study abroad. We have many exchange programmes both throughout Europe and the USA which include studying in Finland, Norway, The Netherlands, France, Greece, Turkey, Spain and Malta. With the exceptions of Spain and France, all instruction is in English. The EU Erasmus programme provides the funding for living expenses while you are abroad if you choose a European partner. We currently have an exchange with the University of Arizona, Tucson, and are in the process of adding more US partners. The US exchanges operate on a tuition fee waiver, but there is no financial support for living expenses or travel.

After your third year abroad, you return to UCL and complete the requirements for the BSc, including the final year Individual Studies Dissertation. Many students will use the year abroad to design the research project and even carry out some of the research for it.

Degree benefits

  • UCL Anthropology is one of the few departments in the country that combines social anthropology, biological anthropology, material culture and medical anthropology to give you a truly broad-based anthropology degree.
  • Spend your third year abroad at one of our partner institutions, for example in Istanbul, Athens, Barcelona, Malta, Leiden, Oslo, Finland, Arizona, Paris or Tokyo.
  • Access to excellent resources including extensive literature in the UCL Main Library and other nearby libraries, such as that of the Centre for Anthropology at the British Museum.
  • We have an outstanding collection of ethnographic items and the Napier Primate Collection, and work closely with the ethnographic department of the British Museum and with the Horniman Museum.
Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Anthropology.

  • 68% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.

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.

Your third year will be spent abroad, where you study anthropology at a foreign university.

In the final year, you return to UCL where you will select five optional courses from a wide range alongside the individual-studies dissertation which constitutes just over a third of your final-year studies.


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.

Year Three

Year abroad

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 course. Some combine short answers with essay questions, others rely solely on longer essay answers.

Destinations for Year Abroad Students

(For students going away in 2015-16)

The following destinations are either presently available, or expected to be available in the near future. From year to year new destinations will be introduced, whilst existing destinations may be dropped.

Occasionally we can arrange special preferences for students, for example, we have been able to organise a placement at the Seoul National University for one of our students for 2015-16.

All courses are taught in English unless otherwise stated. Where courses are taught in a non-English language, excellent proficiency in stated language is required.

Country University Type of Exchange
Australia University of Sydney UCL Exchange  
University of Waterloo UCL Exchange  
  University of British Colombia UCL Exchange  
  McGill University
UCL Exchange  
  University of Toronto UCL Exchange  
University of Copenhagen Erasmus  
Finland University of Helsinki Erasmus  
France Sciences Po Erasmus  
  Université René Descartes
Erasmus Language of instruction is French
Heidelberg University
Panteion University (Athens) Erasmus  
  University of the Aegean Erasmus  
Waseda University Departmental Exchange  
  Doshisha University, Kyoto Departmental Exchange  
Malta University of Malta Erasmus  
The Netherlands Universiteit Leiden Erasmus  
New Zealand University of Auckland UCL Competition  
Norway University of Oslo Erasmus  
Singapore National University of Singapore UCL Competition  
Spain Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona Erasmus Language of instruction is Spanish/Catalan
Turkey Bogazici University Erasmus  
  Yedi Tepe University, Istanbul Erasmus  
USA University of Arizona Departmental Exchange
  University California Departmental Exchange  
  University of Chicago Departmental Exchange  
  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Departmental Exchange  
  University of Texas at Austin UCL Competition  
  University of Washington Departmental Exchange  
  Johns Hopkins University Departmental Exchange  


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 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.


The first cohort of students admitted to this programme are due to graduate in 2016. First destinations of recent graduates (2012-2014) of the Anthropology BSc 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 (2012)
  • 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.

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UCL Anthropology, 14 Taviton Street, London, WC1H 0BW Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 8633