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BioAnth Courses: B2 – Human Ecology and Behaviour

b2B2 – Human Ecology and Behaviour

This paper examines human ecology from a comparative perspective, emphasising both the primate evolutionary context and the vast diversity within our species.

The paper introduces students to the core principles of ecology and behavioural ecology, as a framework for exploring adaptation in humans and non-human primates. Diversity in primate behaviour is broadly examined, ranging from foraging strategies to social organisation to communication. We will then consider how human life-history, social structure and subsistence can be situated within the broader context of the primate order; and explore the extent to which our capacity for culture, cooperation and language is shared with our closest relatives. Additionally, human adaptation will be analysed from a cross-cultural perspective, considering society from an evolutionary standpoint and surveying the entire spectrum of human ways of life, with a particular emphasis on small-scale societies.


It is taken by :

  • students doing the Biological Anthropology Track in Part IIA of the Archaeology Tripos
  • students who have completed Part IB MVST, NST, PBS or Part IIA HSPS and are doing a one-year Part II in Biological Anthropology as part of the Archaeology Tripos
  • students doing a Major in Human Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour as part of the NST Part II Biological and Biomedical Sciences.

It may be taken as an option by:

  • Part IIA students in the Archaeology Tripos
  • Part IB students in the HSPS (Human, Social and Political Sciences) Tripos
  • Part IB students in the PBS (Psychological and Behavioural Sciences) Tripos
  • Part II students in the NST Tripos
  • NST Part II Biological and Biomedical Sciences students (not majoring in Human Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour)


Paper Coordinator: Dr Nikhil Chaudhary

Michaelmas Term: 16 lectures
Lent Term: 8 Lectures & 3 seminars
Assessment: 3 hour exam