UCL Graduate degrees


Human Evolution and Behaviour MSc

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.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2021

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year
Part time: 2 years

Application dates

Visa nationals
Open: 9 November 2020
Close: 31 May 2021
Non-visa nationals
Open: 9 November 2020
Close: 30 July 2021
Applications may close earlier if all places on the programme are filled.

Tuition fees (2021/22)

£12,500 (FT)
£6,250 (PT)
£25,800 (FT)
£12,900 (PT)

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

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.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Advanced

Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English

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.

International students

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.

Select your country:

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.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of one compulsory module (15 credits), five optional modules (75 credits) and a research dissertation (90 credits).

Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MSc in Human Evolution and Behaviour.

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 is subject to change.

Compulsory modules

All students must take the following module:

  • Statistics I

Optional modules

Students must take 75 credits in total from the optional modules below. 30 credits need to be chosen from modules in GROUP 1 and 45 credits from modules in GROUP 2. All of the modules listed below are worth 15 credits each.

  • GROUP 1
  • Human Behavioural Ecology
  • Palaeoanthropology
  • Primate Socioecology
  • GROUP 2
  • Applied Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Evolutionary Medicine
  • Human Behavioural Ecology*
  • Palaeoanthropology*
  • Primate Socioecology*
  • Primate Evolution and Environments
  • Statistics II
  • Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherers from the Emergence of Modern Humans
  • Evolution of the Human Brain and Behaviour
  • Prehistoric Stone Artefact Analysis
  • The Archaeology of Early Human Origins
  • Primate Conservation
  • Skills in Field Primatology
  • Practical Documentary Filmmaking

* If not chosen from GROUP 1.

Dissertation/research project

All MSc students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a 15,000 word dissertation.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, labs and seminars, including weekly two-hour departmental seminars, and occasional attendance at non-departmental seminars. Assessment is through take-home examination, essays, lab-books, practical tests, and presentation. The dissertation is assessed by a project presentation and the thesis.

Additional costs

Data collection for the dissertation typically takes place from April till 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.

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


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


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


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 the media (TV, radio, publishing), in NGOs (community development, nature conservation), 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.

Why study this degree at UCL?

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 2020, making it the top ranked institution in London, and third in the UK and Europe for the subject. Our excellent results in the Research Excellence Framework 2014 also identify us as a leading Anthropology department in the UK. 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, etc.

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.

Department: Anthropology

Application and 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.

This programme requires two references. Further information regarding references can be found in our How to apply section.

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: ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.

Who can apply?

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.

Application deadlines

Visa nationals
31 May 2021
Non-visa nationals
30 July 2021

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

What are we looking for?

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 course 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.

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.

Page last modified on 28 August 2021