The study of biological anthropology includes many sub-disciplines, such as skeletal biology, human evolution, forensic anthropology, human behavioural ecology and primatology. Typical questions you may explore include: What disease existed in ancient populations? How did humans evolve? Why are symmetrical faces more attractive? Do monkeys have language?
This programme appeals to those with an academic background or interest in Biology, Human Biology, Medicine, Psychology or Zoology (among others) or those working towards a career in science journalism, museum work, conservation (especially primate conservation), forensic science (for example Scotland Yard), health care, archaeology and academic research.
The School of Anthropology and Conservation offers a friendly and cosmopolitan learning community with students from over 70 different nationalities and 45% of staff from outside the UK. You are taught by enthusiastic academics at the forefront of their fields, including published primatologists and a team who excel in paleoanthropology.
Our degree programme
In your first year, you take modules that give you a broad background in the subject. The programme begins with an introduction to the history of anthropology, the foundations of biological anthropology, skills for anthropologists and an introduction to social anthropology.
In your second and final years, you take compulsory modules that develop your specialised knowledge and skills. You can also choose further modules from a wide range of options.
Modules expand across the full range of our research expertise for example: human osteology; primate communication; sex, evolution and human hehaviour; palaeoanthropology; palaeopathology; forensic science in criminal trails and forensic archaeology.
Biological Anthropology student Ellie talks about her course at Kent.
A year abroad is a wonderful opportunity, often described by students as life changing and invaluable. A year abroad extends your degree to a four-year programme and typically allows you to spend a year studying at one of our partner institutions in the US or Canada. You don’t have to make a decision before you enrol at Kent, but certain conditions apply.
Year in professional practice
You can stand out from the crowd by adding a year in professional practice to your degree. You spend a minimum of 24 weeks, between the second and final years, working in professional practice in the UK or abroad. You don’t have to make a decision before you enrol at Kent, but certain conditions apply.
A number of our modules include opportunities for learning and experiences outside of the classroom through field trips. Potential excursions are:
Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal ParksSt Leonard's OssuaryParis, the Musée du quai Branly and Musée de l'Homme
These may change from year to year and may incur additional costs. See the funding tab for more information.
The School of Anthropology and Conservation has excellent teaching resources including dedicated computing facilities. Other resources include:
climate controlled human osteology lab housing an exceptional collection of Anglo-Saxon and medieval skeletons (>1000) and related radiographsa dedicated teaching laboratory with first-rate equipmentan excellent fossil cast collection with hundreds of casts, including multiple entire skeletons of extant and extinct primates and hominins3D imaging paleoanthropology lab with state-of-the-art equipment and expert academic supportrefurbished computer suite with 32 PCs with HD screensan integrated audio-visual system to help provide stimulating lecturesa visual anthropology rooman ethnobiology lab for studying human-related plant materialstudent social spaces
The Anthropology Society is run by Kent students and is a good way to meet other students on your course in an informal way. There are also many national societies, which are a great way to meet people from around the world and discover more about their countries and cultures.
The School of Anthropology and Conservation puts on many events that you are welcome to attend. We host two public lectures a year, the Stirling Lecture and the DICE Lecture, which bring current ideas in anthropology and conservation to a wider audience. We are delighted that these events attract leading anthropological figures from around the world; in 2017 we hosted paleoanthropologist Professor Lee Berger, one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people.
Each term, there are also seminars and workshops discussing current research in anthropology, conservation and human ecology.
In our most recent national Teaching Excellence Framework, teaching at Kent was judged to be Gold rated. Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.
Our teaching is research-led as all our staff are active in their fields. Social and biological anthropology staff have been awarded national teaching awards, reflecting the quality of the undergraduate programmes.
Anthropology at Kent uses a stimulating mix of teaching methods, including lectures, small seminar groups, field trips and laboratory sessions. For project work, you are assigned to a supervisor with whom you meet regularly. You also have access to a wide range of learning resources, including the Templeman Library, research laboratories and computer-based learning packages.
Many of the core modules have an end-of-year examination that accounts for 50% to 100% of your final mark for that module. The remaining percentage comes from practical or coursework marks. However, others, such as the Project in Anthropological Science and Human Osteology, are assessed entirely on coursework. Both Stage 2 and 3 marks count towards your final degree result.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- major aspects of human evolution, including significant fossil evidence and its contextual associations, and behavioural and ecological reconstructions based on these
- the similarities and contrasts between humans and other primates, and their significance for human adaptive success
- selected aspects of primate diversity, behaviour, and acquaintance with relevant concepts of primatology
- aspects of human genetic and/or phenotypic diversity, their evolutionary implications and significance for schemes categorising human variability
- the role of human osteology and forensic anthropology in understanding human variation, epidemiology, and forensic identification of human remains
- the range and flexibility of individual biological responses, and awareness of the distinction between such adaptability and population adaptation
- biosocial perspectives on human ecology; for example, subsistence and dietary diversity, and comparative study of health, wellbeing and disease across societies and/or over time
- consideration of human life history patterns, reproductive influences, population size and structure, and aspects of applied anthropology, including development studies
- awareness of the nature, complexity and richness of human biological diversity and an appreciation of its social and ethical implications
- an awareness of evolutionary principles relevant to the study of human evolution
- an in-depth understanding of current issues relating to biological anthropology.
You gain the following intellectual abilities:
- learning and study skills
- the capacity to express one's own ideas in writing, to summarise the arguments of others, and to distinguish between the two
- independence of thought and analytical, critical and synoptic skills
- scholarly skills such as the ability to make a structured argument, reference the works of others and assess historical evidence.
You gain specific skills in the following:
- the knowledge and ability to interpret information on aspects of human biological diversity
- the ability to analyse and evaluate relevant qualitative and quantitative data utilising appropriate techniques
- to design and implement a project involving data collection on some aspect(s) of biological anthropology, and to display relevant investigative, analytical and communication skills
- an in-depth understanding of the subject, and qualities of mind associated with intellectual reflection, evaluation and synthesis
- the ability to understand how human beings are shaped by, and interact with, their social and physical environments, and an appreciation of their social and biological diversity
- the ability to formulate, investigate and discuss anthropologically informed questions
- competence in using major theoretical perspectives and concepts in biological anthropology
- the ability to apply anthropological knowledge to a variety of practical situations, personal and professional.
You gain transferable skills in the following:
- information retrieval skills in relation to primary and secondary sources of information
- communication and presentation skills using oral and written materials and information technology
- time-planning and management skills
- the ability to engage in constructive discussion in group situations and group work skills
- statistical and computing methods.
The programme aims to:
- develop students’ critical and analytical powers with respect to biological anthropology
- develop critical and analytical problem-based learning skills
- provide the skills to adapt and respond positively to changes in the discipline
- provide a broad range of knowledge in the discipline of anthropology, stressing the need for a biological approach to the subject, and showing how it is closely linked to other academic disciplines such as biology, psychology, archaeology and forensic sciences
- provide a grounding in human and primate biological variation and distinguish the links between biological and sociocultural processes
- ensure that the research by staff informs the design of modules, and their content and delivery in a manner that is efficient, reliable and enjoyable to students
- prepare graduates for employment and/or further study in their chosen careers through developing students’ transferable skills.