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Unit information: The Primatological Context to Biological Anthropology in 2015/16

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Unit name The Primatological Context to Biological Anthropology
Unit code ARCH20019
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Gibson
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Anthropology and Archaeology
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This course will look at non-human primate species and examine how features of their environment shape their structure, physiology and behaviour. Visits to Bristol Zoo Gardens will aid this exploration in addition to providing practical experience of field methods. We will also focus on the conservation of primate species and current threats to their survival.


  • To enable students to understand the main research areas within primatology and to recognize the issues threatening primate populations today.
  • To provide students with the practical experience of research techniques in the field of primatology.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of the unit, a successful student will be able to:

1) Describe the key features that define the order of primates and different taxonomic groups

2)Identify primate species and be able to place them in their correct family

3)Recognize key issues surrounding primate reproduction, ecology, social behaviour and intelligence

4)Recognise the principles and definitions of behavioural ecology

5)Identify the advantages/ disadvantages of research techniques

6)Write a research report that demonstrates practical research experience and analysis of behavioural data

7)Discuss the main threats to the conservation of primate populations

8)Identify key research resources, international legislation and conservation agencies concerned with non-human primates species

Teaching details

Lectures and 2 fieldtrips to Bristol Zoological Gardens (1 to collect research data which will form the basis of their report)

Assessment Details

  • One 60 minute class test (25%). Assesses ILOs 1-5 and 7
  • One class presentation (as part of a group) (15%). Assesses 1-3, 7 and 8
  • One research report of up to 3,500 words (60%). Assesses ILOs 5,6,8

Reading and References

Strier, K.B. (2010). Primate Behavioral Ecology (2nd edition). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Boyd, R. & Silk, J.B. (2012). How Humans Evolved. London: W.W. Norton.

Setchell, J.M. & Curtis, D.J. (2003). Field and Laboratory Methods in Primatology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Else, J.G. & Lee, P.C. (1984). Primate Ecology and Conservation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cowlishaw, G & Dunbar R (2000) Primate Conservation Biiology. Chicago: Universtiy of Chicago Press