ANTHRO 726 A & B

Advanced Biological Anthropology


This course gives students an opportunity to critically read, debate and thoughtfully evaluate some of the most important issues in biological anthropology including evolutionary theory as it applies to humans, paying particular attention to theoretical perspectives, the hypotheses generated from them and the various assumptions and evidence underpinning debates, past and current.

The course is taught in a seminar format with everyone having a set role for each week so that we equally participate in discussions and debates. In Semester One we will focus upon evolutionary theory as it applies to humans, Starting with the texts most frequently cited and never read – Darwin and Wallace – we will then move on to consider debates around the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis, including niche construction, plasticity, developmental systems. Our focus will be on how these ideas apply and change our view of human evolution.

In Semester Two we then turn to the various areas covered by biological anthropology and analyse how these have changed and developed. Using the theoretical background developed in Semester One, we consider the different subfields and what research questions are appearing and how they can be tackled. In this semester students have the opportunity to identify areas they are particularly interested in following.

By the end of the course we expect that students will understand a number of the most important theoretical perspectives and concepts relevant to our subdiscipline. Students will also understand and be familiar with key historical developments in the discipline.

Students will have gained these skills:

  • Ability to identify and thoughtfully evaluate hypotheses derived from various theories
  • Ability to recognise strengths and weaknesses or limitations to various arguments and be able to suggest what more could usefully be done to resolve disagreements or uncertainties
  • Ability to demonstrate effective library research skills including being able to track arguments and ideas both backwards and forwards
  • Ability to formulate and organise a logical written argument
  • Ability to give and respond to constructive comment on both written and oral work through oral participation in the class and responding to draft comments in written work
  • Ability to present opinions and work orally to a small group and participate in such discussions

These skills develop employability in the following areas:

  • Analysis: can identify an issue and research it thoroughly and systematically with an eye to identifying issues and future needs.
  • Writing: able to translate complicated ideas into coherent and concise prose, developing a logical argument.
  • Communication: able to engage thoughtfully in debate and discussion as well as present the results of your own work orally.
  • Workplace: able to work as part of a group listening carefully and exchanging ideas and comments in a constructive fashion.

To complete this course students must enrol in ANTHRO 726 A and B, or ANTHRO 726.

Availability 2022

Not taught in 2022




ANTHRO 726A: 15 points

ANTHRO 726B: 15 points