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Department of Anthropology

Postgraduate Opportunities

The Evolutionary Anthropology research group at Durham University undertakes research in the areas of primate/human evolution and adaptation, behavioural ecology, conservation biology, cultural evolution, evolution of cognition, brain, language and behaviour, evolutionary psychology and evolutionary medicine/health.

We are keen to support high quality candidates to apply for Durham Doctoral Scholarships and research council studentships to join our growing postgraduate community. Please see our Departmental Postgraduate pages for general details about applying and funding. Specific projects are listed below, although students with their own research ideas are encouraged to contact a relevant member of academic staff.

We also have an ESRC-recognised Cultural Evolution pathway on the MA in Research Methods, which provides ideal preparation for PhD research.

Projects in Primatology and Conservation

  • Colour signalling and sexual selection in primates. Contact Professor Jo Setchell or Professor Robert Barton for details.
  • Diet and foraging ecology in non-human primates. Contact Professor Robert Barton for details.
  • Olfactory communication in primates. Contact Professor Jo Setchell for details.
  • Predator-prey dynamics using leopards and terrestrial primates as a model system. Contact Professor Russell Hill for details.
  • Behavioural ecology of South African primates (baboons, vervet monkeys and samango monkeys). Contact Professor Russell Hill for details.
  • Phylogenetic targeting of research effort in primatology. Contact Professor Jo Setchell for details.
  • Behavioural ecology of nocturnal primates in South Africa. Contact Professor Jo Setchelll for details.
  • Crop-foraging and human wildlife conflict mitigation in primates. Contact Professor Russell Hill for details.
  • Carnivore-human conflict in southern Africa. Contact Professor Russell Hill for details.
  • Citizen science and mammal monitoring in the UK. Contact Professor Russell Hill for details.
  • Conservation and human wildlife conflict in Central Africa. Contact Professor Jo Setchell for details.
  • Assessing validity of putative traditions seen in the wild using captive groups of primates an/or developing simulations of asocial and social learning based on parameters collected in the field. Contact Dr. Rachel Kendal for details.
  • Factors underlying behavioural innovation in wild and captive primates. Contact Dr. Rachel Kendal for details.
  • The role of social networks and social dynamics in cultural transmission and cultural variation in wild primates. Contact Dr. Rachel Kendal for details.
  • Applying theory regarding behavioural innovation and social learning to enhancing reintroduction success and animal welfare. Contact Dr. Rachel Kendal for details.

Projects in Cultural Evolution

  • Cultural traditions in sport. Contact Dr. Jamie Tehrani or Dr. Jeremy Kendal for details.
  • Assessing evidence for cumulative culture in captive and wild primates. Contact Dr. Rachel Kendal for details.
  • Applying cultural evolution research to science communication and science education (in collaboration with the Centre for Life, Newcastle). Contact Dr. Rachel Kendal for details.
  • Comparative (human vs. non-human) studies of cultural transmission biases and cumulative culture. Contact Dr. Rachel Kendal for details.
  • Comparing pathways of genetic and cultural transmission in specialised artisan communities of rural China. Contact Professor Robert Layton for details.
  • Investigating cognitive biases in the evolution of art. Contact Dr. Jamie Tehrani for details.
  • Cultural evolution of folklore, mythology and literature. Contact Dr. Jamie Tehrani for details.
  • Social transmission and population dynamics. Contact Dr. Jeremy Kendal for details.
  • Cultural evolution of music. Contact Dr. Sally Street for details.

Projects in Palaeoanthropology and Palaeoecology

  • Dental and postcranial mammalian “morphotypes” as environmental indicators
  • Taphonomy and palaeoecology of fossil hominin localities
  • Comparison of palaeoenvironmental proxies in reconstructing palaeolandscapes
  • Mammalian (including hominins and other primates) ecomorphology