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Studying anthropology

Want to know where humans came from, where we are now and where we might be going? Then anthropology could be the perfect subject for you.

What is anthropology?

Anthropology is the study of the human race. Anthropology examines how human beings have evolved, and the cultures they have created. The sort of things anthropology might look at include:

  • The relationship of human beings to other primates like apes and chimpanzees
  • Different views of sexuality throughout history and across the world
  • How the internet is changing human society

There are many different branches of anthropology, many of which cross over with other subjects like archaeology, biology, languages and sociology. However, anthropology can be broadly broken down into the following main areas: 

  • Biological anthropology: the study of evolution and how human populations have spread and developed
  • Social anthropology: the study of different human cultures and how societies change
  • Material anthropology: the study of how humans interact with their environment 

A lot of anthropology involves researching and analysing data. It also involves critical thinking and the ability to interpret evidence according to different theories.

What qualifications are available?

You can study anthropology at the following levels:

You don't have to have studied A-level anthropology to study the subject at degree level, but you will need a good mix of facilitating subjects like English, history and a science. Many universities offer anthropology as a joint honours degree with other subjects like archaeology, media studies or a modern language. Most bachelor’s degrees give an overview of the whole subject, although you can specialise in particular branches of anthropology when you get to postgraduate level. Some postgraduate courses also offer placements studying communities abroad.

Where can it lead?

Read our article What can I do with an anthropology degree? to find out about career options in anthropology.

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