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

Marc Brightman
Programme Tutor
Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 8652

Ruth Mandel
Programme Tutor
Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 8646

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's Anthropology Department is one of the few 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 or Paris.
  • Access to excellent resources including extensive literature in the UCL 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.

In the first year, you take compulsory courses 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 courses and options.

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

In the final year, you return to UCL where you will have a free choice of five options alongside the individual-studies dissertation which constitutes just over a third of your final-year studies.

Your learning

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


Your courses 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.

Degree structure

In each year of your degree you will take a number of individual courses, normally valued at 0.5 or 1.0 credits, adding up to a total of 4.0 credits for the year. Courses are assessed in the academic year in which they are taken. The balance of compulsory and optional courses 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).

Year One

Compulsory courses

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

Optional courses

All first year courses are compulsory.

Year Two

Compulsory courses

Theoretical Perspectives in Social Anthropology and Material Culture
Being Human

Optional courses

You will select a minimum of 2.5 and a maximum of 3.0 credits from Anthropology optional courses 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
Communication and Culture
Cosmos, Society and the Political Imagination
Human Behavioural Ecology
Man and Animals
Mass Consumption and Design

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

Year Three

Year abroad

Final Year

Compulsory courses

Individual Studies in Anthropology

Optional courses

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

Advanced Topics in Digital Culture
Anthropology and Photography
Anthropology and Psychiatry
Evolution and Human Behaviour
Language, Gender and Culture
Reproduction, Fertility and Sex
Ritual Healing and Therapeutic Emplotment
The Anthropology of Nationalism, Ethnicity and Race
Transforming and Creating the World: Anthropological Perspectives on Techniques and Technology

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

Further details on department website: Anthropology with a Year Abroad BSc

Our exchange departmental partners include universities in Greece, Turkey, Malta,
France, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, The Netherlands, Finland and USA. We are in the process of establishing exchanges with about 10 new partners. Currently, the language of instruction in all but three of our partners is English (the exceptions are France, Switzerland and Spain). Please note that quite a few more university exchange agreements are in the works, so by November there should be
additional options.

Country University Type of Exchange
Finland Abo Akademi University Erasmus  
France Université René Descartes (Paris V) Erasmus Excellent level of French required
Greece University of the Aegean Erasmus  
  Panteion Panepistimio Epistimon Erasmus  
Malta University of Malta Erasmus  
The Netherlands Universiteit Leiden Erasmus  
Norway Universitetet I Oslo Erasmus  
Spain Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona Erasmus Excellent level of Spanish required
Switzerland University of Bern Erasmus Excellent level of French or
German required
Turkey Bogazici University Erasmus  
USA University of Arizona Departmental Apply via Study Abroad Office
  Johns Hopkins University UCL Competition Apply via Study Abroad Office
  University of Washington UCL Competition Apply via Study Abroad Office
Singapore National University of Singapore UCL Competition Apply via Study Abroad Office


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 multi-nationals.


The first cohort of students admitted to this programme are due to graduate in 2016. First destinations of recent graduates (2010-2012) of the Anthropology BScinclude:

  • Full-time student, MA in Public Policy at King's College London (2012)
  • Business Development Executive, Diageo (2012)
  • Research Analyst, Enders Analysis (2011)
  • Non-executive Director, Inside Pensions (2010)
  • Digital Marketing Executive, Nitro Digital (2010)

Find out more about London graduates' careers by visiting the Careers Group (University of London) website:

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