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Department of Anthropology

Student Experience

We are committed to delivering a world-class education that benefits our graduates both academically and personally


Dynamic, Research-Led Teaching

We employ a range of teaching methods to equip our students with diverse knowledge and skills. These include traditional lectures, small-group seminars, student-led presentations, hands-on practicals, the creation of posters and exhibits, field trips (e.g. to Edinburgh Zoo or our South Africa field station), and training in experimental methods, interview techniques, and statistical/computer skills.

As a research-intensive department, you will benefit from being taught by active, world-leading researchers, who are making the discoveries that end up in the textbooks. In the last government Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), Durham was ranked 2nd in the UK for volume of research rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. In fact, our academics often make the news!

And unlike many other departments, we have expertise across the full breadth of anthropology, encompassing biological, evolutionary, socio-cultural and health-related approaches to the study of humanity. Students benefit from a wide range of modules on each programme (including elective modules from other departments and foreign languages) and can always find dissertation supervisors in their area of interest.

The National Student Survey (NSS)

In the latest National Student Survey (2013), 89% of our final-year students reported being satisfied with the quality of their course, and 92% reported satisfaction with the teaching on their course.

Behind these statistics lie some glowing recommendations, from anonymous respondents to the 2013 NSS survey:

“I feel ready to leave university with a wide skill set that I believe I would otherwise not possess. Not only am I more 'expert' in my subject area. But my team working skills, lateral-thinking skills, presenting skills and overall confidence have been vastly improved.”

Recent Durham anthropology graduate and NSS respondent

“Staff are extremely passionate about what they teach and are often well published in their respective subjects. They are always happy to help or will arrange someone else to help. Their interest is infectious.”

Recent Durham anthropology graduate and NSS respondent

“Very interesting and useful to have both biological and social sides taught together. Plenty of flexibility to pursue your own personal interests.”

Recent Durham anthropology graduate and NSS respondent

“I can't put into words how much I have enjoyed the last three years and how much it has changed me as a person. I have learnt so much and while it has been hard going it has been worth every minute!”

Recent Durham anthropology graduate and NSS respondent

Durham anthropology students are award-winning!


We are very proud of our students, and we are especially proud when they achieve recognition from outside organisations.

For example, recent Durham anthropology graduate James Lyndon-Skeggs (pictured right) won a prestigious Undergraduate Award 2013 in the Life Sciences category for his third-year dissertation entitled "Non-Kin Cooperation: A Prerequisite to Efficient Cumulative Culture".

The Undergraduate Awards is the world’s only pan-discipline academic awards programme that identifies the leading creative thinkers through their undergraduate coursework. James was selected from over 2,000 submissions representing 26 countries and 184 institutions.

James' dissertation project, supervised by Dr Rachel Kendal, involved testing the learning abilities of 120 children at the Centre for Life in Newcastle, addressing the question of how cooperation allows human culture to increase in complexity over time.


Another Durham anthropology student award winner is Tessa Fowler (shown on the left, receiving her award from Sir Trevor McDonald).

In 2013 Tessa won the Undergraduate of the Year Award for Commercial Excellence at the annual TARGETjobs Awards.

She won the award through a series of online tests, application forms, interviews and assessment exercises, designed to test the employability of undergraduate students.

Not all of our students win national awards, but many go on to have successful careers in a range of areas, and some of our alumni even become famous!

Life in Durham

Durham is a beautiful university town in the North-East of England steeped in history and tradition. Students enjoy many outdoors activities, from university-organised sporting events to rambles in one of the nearby National Parks. For those with more urban tastes, the bustling city-life of Newcastle is just a 15 minute train ride away. Durham itself is relatively small - most of our students live within walking distance of the department - and safe - Durham was ranked the 2nd safest university in England and Wales by The Complete University Guide 2014.

This short film gives a taster of what life at Durham University is like: