Study Anthropology at university

What is anthropology?

Anthropology is the study of humanity. This broad science examines humans from both a sociological and a biological perspective. It looks at cultural and social diversity, and examines the different ways people live, behave and think. Any community can be studied, from remote tribal groups to city workers.

Anthropologists explore how historical, political and environmental factors shape different cultures. They also investigate human evolution and diversity by comparing humans with primates, analysing artefacts, and investigating genetic variations.

When carrying out a study, Anthropologists look at historic and contemporary evidence, and they often immerse themselves in a community during fieldwork. Anthropology can improve the world we live in by enhancing our understanding of people and societies.

Anthropology is typically divided into four fields:

  • Biological anthropology – focuses on genetics, evolution and health.
  • Social anthropology – specialises in human societies and cultural life.
  • Archaeology – people and cultures of the past.
  • Linguistic anthropology – focuses on language in society.

Why study anthropology?

There are a number of benefits to studying anthropology at undergraduate level:

The ways in which we live are continually changing, and advances in science allow us to learn more about past societies. This makes anthropology an exciting and dynamic subject, with lots of opportunities for making new discoveries.

Anthropology gives you a high level of cultural awareness. It helps you to empathise with different cultures and understand how to interact with people from different backgrounds. This social and cultural understanding can be invaluable when you are communicating with people in cross-cultural settings.

Anthropology graduates can pursue a wide range of careers, from humanitarian work to marketing and advertising. During your anthropology degree, you will develop both qualitative humanities skills and quantitative scientific skills. These are valued by employers in a variety of industries.

Why study anthropology at Durham University?

You will study alongside world-leading experts in one of the world’s largest Anthropology departments. Anthropology courses at Durham provide you with valuable skills in qualitative and quantitative research, and you can study a variety of themes, from social and evolutionary anthropology, to health and medical anthropology.

The latest Research Excellence Framework states that 74% of the Department’s research is considered internationally excellent or world leading (REF 2014). Durham’s research into the anthropology of health is also applied to medical and domestic settings across the world – it has been cited by UNESCO, UNICEF, the NHS and the World Bank, among others.

Fieldwork is an important part of anthropological research. At Durham, you will benefit from unique opportunities and facilities, such as the University’s South Africa Field Course – the only one of its kind in the UK. You will also have the opportunity to take part in work placements and study abroad initiatives that enhance your knowledge, skills and career prospects.

World top 50 for Anthropology

(QS World Subject Rankings 2019)

74% of research considered internationally excellent

(Research Excellence Framework 2014)

Key skills from studying anthropology

Studying anthropology gives you many skills that will be valuable throughout your degree and future career:

  • Investigative research
  • Analytics
  • Data processing
  • Statistical techniques
  • Computer literacy
  • Communication
  • Logical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Cultural understanding


What anthropology degrees can I study at Durham University?

If you are looking to study anthropology after a foundation year, BA (Hons) Anthropology prepares you for a range of careers. This three-year degree provides a broad understanding of the theory and practice of anthropology. It explores social and biological anthropology, as well as themes such as culture, society and health.

Degree preparation at the International Study Centre

Our International Foundation Year in Humanities, Law and Social Science prepares you for an anthropology degree or other related courses at Durham.

You will develop your English language skills and academic skills, and study anthropology-focused modules that give you the knowledge you need to succeed in your degree.

Anthropology career opportunities

There are many careers and further study options that you can pursue with an anthropology degree. Anthropologists are particularly suited to jobs that involve an understanding of people, societies and culture. Popular Master’s degree topics include Public Policy, International Development, and Public Health Studies.

Some of the jobs you could follow include:

  • Humanitarian aid worker
  • Charity worker
  • Public health officer
  • Counsellor
  • Social worker
  • Museum curator
  • Public relations executive
  • Advertising account manager
  • Archaeologist
  • Heritage management
  • Conservation officer
  • Local government roles
  • Journalist
  • University lecturing.
  • Community development office.