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MPhil in Human Evolutionary Studies

The Masters of Philosophy in Human Evolutionary Studies is a full-time interdisciplinary course that gives students the opportunity of working in depth within a particular area of interest in this field, while acquiring complementary knowledge on other areas within the broader discipline of Biological Anthropology. The course lasts ten months, and involves teaching in evolutionary anthropology, human and hominin morphology, primate behaviour and evolution, behavioural ecology, and genetics. This unique combination is achieved through a demanding programme of courses, statistical training, enhancement of communication skills, and research training, including the writing of a dissertation. The course welcomes students from a range of disciplines who want to acquire both a strong knowledge-base in Human Evolutionary Studies, as well as analytical, communication and research skills.

This taught MPhil recruits students who are prepared for graduate work and wish to receive interdisciplinary training, but who do not have sufficient education in human evolutionary studies in their background to be considered for the research MPhil or doctoral work. This is a demanding course which enables students to obtain interdisciplinary training and specialist knowledge in an area of human evolutionary studies over a relatively short time frame. Subject to performance in the examination, the course prepares students to undertake an advanced degree.

Learning Outcomes

The MPhil in Human Evolutionary Studies aims to:

  1. give students the chance to learn, at an advanced level, about the major topics in human evolution and related fields;
  2. provide students with the opportunity to review and discuss major research questions in human evolution;
  3. provide students with intellectual skills that will allow them to undertake independent research in human evolution;
  4. give students the appropriate intellectual and mentoring context for the development of an independent research project; and
  5. prepare students for research at doctoral level and to equip students to be future leaders in Human Evolutionary Studies and allied fields around the world.


MPhil students taking Human Evolutionary Studies who wish to continue to the PhD in Biological Anthropology are required to achieve an overall mark of at least 68 in the MPhil degree and at least 68 in the dissertation. Before applying they will need to obtain support from a potential PhD supervisor. This need not be the same person who supervises the MPhil thesis but students will need to let the potential PhD supervisor see substantive written work in addition to a draft thesis proposal at an early stage in the academic year. In some circumstances additional academic conditions may be set to ensure that appropriate skills, such as language competence, are in place prior to admittance on the PhD programme.

Postgraduate Study at Cambridge