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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 Scholariships 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 dedicated MSc programmes in in Evolutionary Anthropology and Evolutionary Medicine, and an ESRC-recognised Cultural Evolution pathway on the MA in Research Methods, all of which provide ideal preparation for PhD research.

Projects in Primatology and Conservation

  • Colour signalling and sexual selection in primates. Contact Professor Robert Barton or Dr. Jo Setchell for details.
  • Cycle synchrony in human and non-human primates. Contact Dr. Jo Setchell for details.
  • Diet and foraging ecology in non-human primates. Contact Professor Robert Barton for details.
  • Olfactory communication in primates. Contact Dr. Jo Setchell for details.
  • Predator-prey dynamics using leopards and terrestrial primates as a model system. Contact Dr. Russell Hill for details.
  • Behavioural ecology of South African primates (baboons, vervet monkeys and samango monkeys). Contact Dr. Russell Hill for details.
  • Phylogenetic targeting of research effort in primatology. Contact Dr. Jo Setchell for details.
  • Behavioural ecology of nocturnal primates in S Africa. Contact Dr. Jo Setchell or Dr. Russell Hill for details.
  • Crop-raiding and human wildlife conflict mitigation in primates. Contact Dr. Russell Hill for details.
  • Carnivore-human conflict in southern Africa. Contact Dr. Russell Hill for details.
  • Conservation and human wildlife conflict in Central Africa. Contact Dr. 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.
  • Investigating the influence of the menstrual cycle on, human and non-human, primate cognition. 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

  • Experimental and theoretical studies of human cultural evolution, including the cultural evolution of technology, science, and monetary systems. Contact Dr Alex Mesoudi for details.
  • Explaining cultural change and cultural variation in cognitive traits through the use of immigrant acculturation. Contact Dr Alex Mesoudi for details.
  • 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.
  • The role of sexual selection in the evolution of tattoo, scarification and other body arts. Contact Dr. Jamie Tehrani for details.
  • Investigating cognitive biases in the evolution of art. Contact Dr. Jamie Tehrani for details.
  • Social Norms - examine the cultural evolution of strategies used to play games, including prisoner's dilemma. Contact Dr. Jeremy Kendal for details.
  • Investigating the coevolution of disease and cultural traits (e.g. medical treatments) using virtual lab experiments and mathematical and simulation modelling. Contact Dr. Jeremy Kendal for details.
  • Population history and knitting traditions in fishing villages along the North East coast of England. Contact Dr. Malcolm Smith for details.