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Department of Anthropology

Postgraduate Opportunities

The Anthropology of Health Research Group at Durham University undertakes research in the areas of local and regional public health anthropology; global health interventions that reach across several continents; mother-child interactions and early life influences on health; the anthropology of science, technology and medicine; and evolutionary and ecological approaches to medicine and health.

We are keen to support high quality candidates for Durham Doctoral Fellowships and research council studentships who can join our large postgraduate community. Please see our Departmental Postgraduate pages for general details about applying and funding opportunities. If you are interested in any of the research areas listed above, please contact the relevant staff member. Students with independent research ideas are also encouraged to contact a relevant member of academic staff. Some suggested projects are listed below.

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


Projects in Public Health Anthropology

  • Projects on tobacco and tobacco control, breath and breathing, atmosphere and environment e.g. call centres as an occupational health ‘setting’, patient narratives in COPD. Contact Dr Andrew Russell for details.
  • Conspiracy theories and public health (with Jamie Tehrani). Contact Dr Andrew Russell or Dr Jamie Tehrani for details.
  • Ethnicity and dynamics of small fast food outlets in Birtley, Gateshead. Contact Dr Andrew Russell for details.
  • Social norms work in secondary schools/Further Education colleges for health promotion. Contact Dr Andrew Russell for details.
  • Projects related to hospitals (history, organization, design). Contact Dr Peter Collins for details.
  • Ritual and symbolism with reference to health and ill health; Religion/spirituality & health. Contact Dr Peter Collins for details.
  • Children’s and young people’s use of medicines in the UK. Contact Dr Kate Hampshire for details.
  • Reproductive decision-making, infertility, sexual/reproductive health and migration. Contact Dr Kate Hampshire for details.
  • Public Health campaigns regarding infant safe sleep. Contact Prof Helen Ball for details

Projects in Global Health Interventions

  • Projects related to health in sub-Saharan Africa. Contact Dr Kate Hampshire for details.
  • Projects on reproductive health in Thailand. Contact Dr Claudia Merli for details.
  • Projects related to care and health governance in Kenya. Contact Dr Hannah Brown for details.

Projects in Early Life Influences and Mother-Child Interactions

  • Projects related to circadian rhythm and sleep pattern development. Contact Prof Helen Ball for details.
  • Impact of post-natal care on breastfeeding outcomes. Contact Prof Helen Ball for details.
  • Cross cultural studies of infant parenting and infant health outcomes. Contact Prof Helen Ball for details.
  • Infant sleep behaviour and physiology (home and lab based studies). Contact Prof Helen Ball for details.
  • Projects related to reproductive ecology and reproductive topics in evolutionary medicine. Contact Prof Gillian Bentley for details.
  • Bangladeshi migrant health and migrant acculturation. Contact Prof Gillian Bentley for details.
  • Nutrition and health, particularly topics on obesity. Contact Prof Gillian Bentley for details.
  • Causes of activity differences in British Pakistani and White British children girls. Contact Dr Tessa Pollard for more details.
  • Using GPS to identify where people are physically active. Contact Dr Tessa Pollard for more details.
  • Early life determinants of prostate symptoms in middle-aged men. Contact Dr Tessa Pollard for more details.

Projects in the Anthropology of Science, Medicine and Technology

  • The study of comparative bioethics. Contact Prof Bob Simpson for details.
  • Projects on new reproductive and genetic technologies. Contact Prof Bob Simpson for details.
  • Projects focusing on Sri Lanka, including healing, medical pluralism, Buddhist ethics. Contact Prof Bob Simpson for details.
  • Projects on the use of mobile technology (e.g. apps) on parenting and infant sleep. Contact Prof Helen Ball for details.

Projects in Evolutionary Medicine/Health

  • Environmental and ecological influences on reproductive health. Contact Prof Gillian Bentley for details.
  • Natural selection in modern populations. Contact Dr Ian Rickard for details.
  • Variability in human eating behaviour; evolution of human diet; reflexive accounts of evolutionary medical approaches. Contact Dr Sarah Elton for details.
  • Evolutionary perspectives on ‘western’ diseases related to physical activity. Contact Dr Tessa Pollard for details.
  • Evolutionary medicine as applied to sleep, and to infant and child health. Contact Prof Helen Ball for details.
  • Cultural evolution and gene-culture coevolution of health-related behaviour. Contact Dr Jeremy Kendal for details.