A leading broad-based Anthropology Department, delivering world class research and education
We are one of the leading departments for broad-based anthropology in the country. Ranked in the top 30 in the QS World Rankings of Anthropology Departments, with 74% of our research outputs judged to be world-leading or internationally excellent, we are proud of our national and international reputation in producing research that drives important debates and has a meaningful impact on the world.
Durham Anthropology brings together strong teams of evolutionary, social and medical anthropologists to deliver world-class integrated research and teaching. At undergraduate and postgraduate levels, our students can choose between a wide range of modules across the full range of Anthropology. Our programmes are research-oriented, with our flagship field course for all undergraduates.
Staff in Durham Anthropology produce world-class research across social, evolutionary and medical anthropology. We are committed to research and education that transcend and challenge sub-disciplinary boundaries. We have particular strengths in cultural evolution, primates and conservation, evolutionary medicine, global health, energy and environment, politics and migration, and art and aesthetics. Over the next few years, we are looking to expand across several areas, with energy/environment a key priority.
Research is deeply embedded in our degree programmes: an expansion of our field schools means that all undergraduates participate in a residential field course, in locations such as: South Africa, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Greece and the Scottish Hebrides. We seek to integrate the entire Durham Anthropology community in the production of great research and graduates with the necessary skills to have a sustained positive impact on the world’s problems. New academic colleagues will join a growing department with a collaborative vision of how it can shape the future of anthropology in the UK and beyond.
Ranked in the top 10% of our discipline in the UK
Among the top 30 Anthropology Departments in the World (2018 QS World rankings)
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Durham Anthropology has expertise in 3 balanced, and overlapping sections: Evolutionary, Medical and Social Anthropology. This breadth of vision, combined with an ability to combine quantitative and qualitative approaches, makes us one of the leading anthropology departments in the UK. This vision is recognised internationally and increasingly emulated nationally.
Maintaining this identity, and establishing ourselves as the leading broad-based Anthropology department in the UK requires us to balance critical mass across and between these three platforms. Each section is foundational to our undergraduate teaching, where all our students take modules in medical and social anthropology, with many integrating two or all three of these areas.
We are proud of the overlap and synergies between these three broad research groupings which are apparent in the membership of the smaller clusters and centres that draw specialists from Anthropology and other Durham Departments. We are home to the flagship Institute for Medical Humanities (www.durham.ac.uk/imh) and the Durham Infancy and Sleep Centre (www.durham.ac.uk/disc). Our research also contributes significantly to the Durham Energy Institute, Durham Research Methods Centre, the Durham Global Security Institute, the Wolfson Research Institute for Health & Wellbeing, the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience, the Institute of Advanced Study, the Centre for the Study of Jewish Society, Culture and Politics, the Centre for the Co-evolution of Biology and Culture and other University research institutes and centres.
With more than 30 permanent academic faculty, we host a large number of research grants and projects across all our sub-disciplines and many world regions (including Africa, South Asia, Southern Europe/Mediterranean, Latin America, USA, UK and the Arctic).
Examples of major current research projects include:
- Gina Porter's GCRF project on young people and transport in Sub-Saharan Africa;
- Simone Abram's and Sandra Bell’s work on low-carbon energy solutions;
- Ben Campbell's GCRF-funded work on energy and environment in the Global South;
- Kate Hampshire's MRC-funded work on community mobile health in Africa;
- Gillian Bentley's work on migration and epigenetics among South Asian populations;
- Helen Ball's ground-breaking work on infant sleep;
- Adetayo Kasim's projects on global and local health inequalities;
- Russell Hill's Primate and Predator Project in South Africa, contributing to meaningful change in primate conservation policies.
Durham Anthropology hosts a number of world-class facilities including:
The Bilsborough Laboratory houses one of the best collections of fossil hominin cast material in the country for palaeoanthropological and morphometric research and teaching in biological anthropology. It comprises an extensive collection of hominin casts as well as human and non-human primate skeletal material, with an emphasis on skulls (approximately 70 non-human primate examples and 25 human skulls).
The Material Culture Collection houses an extensive collection of over 2000 material culture objects from around the world, actively used in both research and teaching of ethnography. The collection is museum registered, fully catalogued with a searchable online database, and is the only collection in the North East of England that is still actively acquiring objects.
The Durham Infant and Sleep Centre, directed by Professor Helen Ball, is home to a team of researchers investigate the behaviour and physiology of infant, child and adult sleep, night-time parenting, infant feeding, and other infant and child health issues. The Sleep Lab houses an integrated state of the art video and physiology monitoring equipment and was refurbished and upgraded in 2018.
The Anthropology Field Station in South Africa provides a permanent base for Prof Russell Hill’s Primate & Predator Project within the Soutpansberg Mountains. This unique facility provides office facilities, living space and 12 accommodation units for undergraduates, postgraduates, staff and volunteers engaged in research on the project. The field station also hosts the Anthropology Field Course each year for undergraduate students. Research at the field station focusses on habituated groups of chacma baboons, vervet monkeys and samango monkeys and understanding the interactions these species have with the local predator community, particularly leopards and eagles, and the conservation implications of these interactions.
The Physical Activity Lab, run by Dr Tessa Pollard, holds equipment for monitoring physical activity in people going about their everyday lives, from accelerometers to GPS devices. Sedentary lifestyles pose one of the key threats to health in many populations and the Physical Activity Lab focuses on understanding how and why activity levels differ across different groups. Current research uses mixed quantitative and qualitative methods and focuses on activity in migrant populations in the UK and in hunter-gatherers in Africa.
Durham has one of the largest anthropology departments in the UK. With more than 30 current permanent academic faculty, spanning social, evolutionary and medical anthropology. Each of these hosts smaller research clusters around themes including energy and environment, cultural evolution, global health and primate conservation. We pride ourselves on working across and challenging traditional sub-disciplinary boundaries and working together to generate excellent research and education.