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Unit information: Current Debates in Biological Anthropology in 2015/16

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Unit name Current Debates in Biological Anthropology
Unit code ARCH30016
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Mwenza Blell
Open unit status Not open

ARCH10005 - Introduction to Biological Anthropology



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


This seminar-based course brings together current issuers in biological anthropology and will reflect the dynamic research interests of staff. A unique feature of this course is that it combines both social and biological approaches to current issues, including (but not limited to) topics such as health, well-being, population, cognition and language, and social/cultural diversity. Students will examine both the causes and consequences of global variation in a number of domains.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  • 1) Explain (with case studies) and critically evaluate different perspectives in debates in biological anthropology.
  • 2) Describe and critically interpret both qualitative and quantitative data relevant to debates in biological anthropology.
  • 3) Describe the different disciplines involved in current biological anthropology issues and critically appraise their contribution to current debates.
  • 4) Identify, extract, and use qualitative and quantitative data from a range of academic and development sources.
  • 5) Write and orally present a report that integrates social, biological and demographic data.
  • 6) Discuss how an integrated bio-cultural anthropology can help policy-makers identify the main priorities for quality of life improvements across the globe.

Teaching details

10 x 2hr lectures

3x 1 hr seminars

Assessment Details

All assessment is summative

  • Independent Learning Outcomes (ILOs) 1,2,4-6: Report, 3,500 50%
  • ILOs 1,2,5,6: 20 minute oral presentation 25%
  • ILOs 1-3,6: Class test 25%

Reading and References

  • World Bank (Annual) World development report
  • Croll, E. 2000 Endangered daughters: Discrimination and development in Asia. Routledge.
  • Evans, N. 2009. Dying Words: Endangered Languages and What They Have To Tell Us. Wiley.
  • Farmer, P. 1999. Infections and inequalities: The modern plagues. London: University of California Press
  • Henrich, J. et al. 2010. The weirdest people in the world.?. Behav Brain Sci 33:61-83.
  • Phillipson, J. Lowe, P and J.M. Bullock. 2009. Navigating the social sciences: interdisciplinary and ecology. Journal of Applied Ecology 46: 261-264/.
  • Wilkinson, R. and Pickett, K. 2009. The spirit level: why more equal societies always do better. London: Penguin.