Human Evolution and Behaviour MSc

London, Bloomsbury

Evolutionary theory has radically altered our understanding of human life. Our programme is designed to provide students with a solid practical and theoretical grounding in issues relevant to the evolution of humans and non-human primates. Our graduates go onto work in the civil service, health services, NGOs, science journalism and more, with many of students going onto prestigious PhD programmes.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2023
Applications accepted
All applicants: 17 Oct 2022 – 30 Jun 2023

Applications open

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 4

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

Students develop the ability to generate, assess and synthesise empirical evidence and hypotheses related to human evolution and behaviour. They gain subject-specific skills, such as measuring skeletal material, interpreting and generating data related to human ecology, reproduction and genetics, and generating behavioural data of humans and non-human primates through observation.

Who this course is for

The programme is suitable for students with a background in evolutionary anthropology or a related discipline who wish to gain a training and qualification in this field as a foundation for higher research and professional work, and for graduates from other fields or careers wishing to supplement their existing knowledge and experience.

What this course will give you

The UCL Evolutionary Anthropology Group (see blog) is home to a diverse group of experts, covering Human Behavioural Ecology, Primatology, Palaeoanthropology, Evolutionary Medicine and Public Health. The department ranks fourth in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022, making it the top ranked institution in London, and third in the UK and Europe for the subject. Within this context of excellence, our programme has a rich and successful history, with many of our alumni now working as evolutionary anthropologists.

Our teaching staff is highly research-active and has a strong record of securing external funding for large-scale projects. Our MSc students can get involved in these projects as active members or as collaborators, depending on their dissertation topics. Our programme offers field-, lab-, museum- and desk-based research projects, depending on the interests of students. All projects benefit from the use of on-campus and off-campus state-of-the-art research facilities. Our staff has active field projects and can facilitate research opportunities in local and international institutions, including field sites in Namibia, Tanzania, Congo, Japan.

Our MSc programme is embedded in a wider network of a vibrant research community and students are encouraged to take full advantage of the broader anthropology and primatology communities in London. As part of this general network, students can attend seminars, participate in conferences, visit exhibitions and have research opportunities at other departments at UCL, neighbouring universities in London, the Natural History Museum, the Zoological Society of London, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, etc. Our own seminar series offers a venue for interaction with researchers who are external to the department.

The foundation of your career

Many graduates are successful in entering fully funded doctoral programmes based on their training and achievements on the programme. Our graduates also go on to work in media (TV, radio, publishing), in NGOs (community development, nature conservation), in government organisations (national statistics, health programmes), in zoos and museums (overseeing collections, co-ordination of research), or become school teachers. Moreover, numerous alumni have become notable academics in their own right, teaching as permanent staff in universities across the globe.


Graduates of the programme will be trained in the fundamentals of scientific inquiry including hypothesis generation, data collection and statistical analysis, data synthesis and reporting of results. Additionally, they acquire advanced training in computer-based quantitative methods, presentation techniques and the public understanding of science. Students will also gain skills specific to their dissertation research that can include behavioural observation techniques in humans and non-human primates, field data collection, computer modelling, and advanced shape analysis.

Teaching and learning

Assessment is through take-home examination, essays, lab-books, practical tests, and presentation. The dissertation is assessed by a project presentation and the thesis.

The compulsory module in Research Methods in Evolutionary Anthropology typically involves around 18 contact hours (2h classes) and the two optional modules (chosen from Human Behavioural Ecology, Primate Behaviour and Ecology, and Palaeoanthropology) usually amount to 72 contact hours (2h seminars & 2h lectures). The remaining optional modules (15 credit) involve 54 contact hours (assuming 2 hour weekly seminar) but will vary depending on the choice of modules. Estimated time in dissertation supervision is around 20h (including group sessions and supervisor meetings).


You will undertake six taught modules and the research dissertation.

The programme involves:

  • a compulsory module in Research Methods in Evolutionary Anthropology
  • two choices of optional modules out of the following: Human Behavioural Ecology, Primate Behaviour and Ecology, and Palaeoanthropology
  • three choices of optional modules from the list of optional modules below
  • the dissertation
  • attendance at the research seminars in evolutionary anthropology

If you are a part-time student, research methods training is provided in Year 1, while the dissertation is written in Year 2. Compulsory and optional modules are distributed across both years.

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability are subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MSc in Human Evolution and Behaviour.


Our staff has active field projects and can facilitate research opportunities in local and international institutions, including field sites in Namibia, Tanzania, Congo, Japan.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2023/24) £14,100 £7,050
Tuition fees (2023/24) £29,000 £14,500

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website:

Additional costs

Data collection for the dissertation typically takes place from April until June. Facilitated by the chosen supervisor, about half of all students will collect their data outside England. The costs for a three-month stint of fieldwork, e.g., in Asia, Africa or South America, will typically not exceed £2,000, including travel costs.

The department offers competitive bursaries of a few hundred pounds to facilitate this, but the bulk of the costs is normally borne by the students. In recent years our students have received fieldwork funding from the department’s Turing Scheme and the Anna Sturm Law Travel Prize.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Next steps

Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at Application fees.

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Human Evolution and Behaviour at graduate level
  • why you want to study Human Evolution and Behaviour at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of a challenging academic environment
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

Applicants with a background in Biological Anthropology, Biological Sciences, Human Sciences, Zoology, Archaeology and Genetics are eligible for direct entry on to this degree. Applications with a background in a non-relevant discipline will be passed on to the programme tutor for consideration. We explicitly welcome applicants from a variety of backgrounds, including Psychology or Economics, as long as they have a strong interest in and sufficient understanding of evolutionary theory.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2023-2024

Got questions? Get in touch

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