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Suiting students with a strong, existing background in the field of archaeology or biological anthropology, or possessing relevant research experience, this MPhil focuses entirely on producing a dissertation of up to 30,000 words. 

Taking place over 10 months, this is an excellent opportunity for students to embark on their own independently-formulated project falling within one of the areas supported by the archaeology department. This option would suit a self-motivated individual, with a well-formed idea in mind, and the capability to form this into a cohesive and well-structured thesis.


The dissertation topic is formulated following discussion with a supervisor, who will also give guidance on methodology, analysis, and the final written presentation. You will have the option of structuring your dissertation towards publication, providing valuable training.

You are strongly encouraged to attend the Research Skills seminar, which is designed to equip students with the tools to formulate a research design, analyse data, and make presentations.

Additionally, students on the course have poster and presentation days which are valuable opportunities to present your research, answer questions, and learn from feedback.

An oral examination forms part of the assessment, allowing students to show their understanding of the general field. 

From the thesis, the examiners will be looking for evidence that you can design and carry out investigations, assess and interpret the acquired results, placing your work within the wider context of Biological Anthropological Science. 

The course begins in October, with submission of the thesis due by the end of July. 

Some previous dissertation topics

  • The Evolutionary Genomics of Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Does interspecific competition for niche space select for tool use in Pan?
  • Just another ape? Our Miocene ancestors in the context of hominoid evolution
  • CT scanning of internal bone structure of fossil phalanges from Sterkfontein Caves (South Africa): implications for hominin locomotion and tool use
  • The Evolution of Genetic Immune Variation in Island Southeast Asia
  • Climatic Effects on External Auditory Exostosis: A Multi-Variable Analysis
  • The relationship between mortality salience and fertility in a life history perspective
  • The Effects of Individuals' God Concepts on Altruistic Behaviour

Further information

Prior to making their application, prospective students should get in touch with a potential MPhil supervisor in the subject area they plan to write their dissertation on. They will help decide on potential topics for research. Please check the staff profile pages for suitable supervisors with relevant interests.

Dr Nikhil Chaudhary is the co-ordinator for this programme.

Key information

Course length

10 months, full-time


Oral exam

Research Skills

Dissertation of up to 35,000 words

Course co-ordinator

Dr Nikhil Chaudhary

Postgraduate Study at Cambridge