• Total units 48 Units
  • Areas of interest Biological Anthropology
  • Major code BIAN-MAJ
  • Academic career Undergraduate
Biological Anthropology Major

Biological anthropology is the branch of anthropology that focuses on the evolutionary and biological aspects of humankind: Homo sapiens as an evolved species - human populations as varied and dynamically changing sets of biological individuals, adaptable but also vulnerable to ever-changing circumstances. It is also concerned with the non-human primates, and with current debates on the biological bases of human social behaviour. The subject thus encompasses what used to be called physical anthropology, as well as primatology, palaeoanthropology and human population biology, including human genetics and the study of human health, nutrition, growth, demography and ecological adaptation, viewed comparatively and synthetically.

The pass degree courses are planned, not to provide specialised professional training, but to present students with an overall understanding of biological anthropology and its main sub-fields. Honours courses offer more specialist training and examine in more depth the discipline's theoretical basis. Students considering the possibility of entering careers as professional biological anthropologists should plan their courses with a view to taking the degree with Honours. Specific preparation for honours work begins in third year.



Due to structural changes in the undergraduate program rules in 2012, the courses that make up the new 2012 majors may be different to the pre-2012 majors, and therefore some courses cannot be counted between majors.  Students are advised to contact the CASS Student Office if they are unsure about their Majors.


Learning Outcomes

Students who complete this major will have the skills and knowledge to:

  • define the scope of biological anthropology as a discipline and situate it in a wider anthropological context
  • apply the discipline’s theoretical approaches and research methodologies in the investigation of primate evolutionary and population biology
  • critically discuss contemporary and historical research in at least four of the following subfields: fossil evidence for human evolution; evolutionary primatology; behavioural primatology; human skeletal morphology; bioarchaeology; anthropological genetics; human population health, nutrition and environmental adaptability; human population dynamics.
  • recognise and reflect on local and international perspectives on research in biological anthropology.
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This major requires the completion of 48 units, which must include:

A maximum of 12 units of courses at 1000 level
A minimum of 6 units of courses at 3000 level

A minimum of 24 units must come from completion of courses from the following list:

Code Title Units
BIAN2015 Human Skeletal Analysis 6
BIAN2115 'Race' and Human Genetic Variation 6
BIAN2119 Nutrition, Disease and the Environment 6
BIAN2126 Primate Evolutionary Biology 6
BIAN3014 Research Design and Analysis in Biological Anthropology 6
BIAN3018 Primate Behavioural Ecology Field School in Cambodia 12
BIAN3113 Human Evolution 6
BIAN3125 Ancient Health & Disease 6
BIAN3127 Primate Ecology and Behaviour 6

A maximum of 12 units may come from completion of courses from the following list:

Code Title Units
ANTH2026 Medicine, Healing and the Body 6
ANTH2132 Food for Thought: Anthropological theories of food and eating 6
ANTH2133 Social Animals: anthropological perspectives on animal-human relationships 6
ARCH3028 Archaeology of Death and Mortuary Practices 6
ARCH3108 Animals, Plants and People 6
BIAN2064 Anthropology of Environmental Disasters 6
BIAN2120 Culture, Biology and Population Dynamics 6
BIAN2128 Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology 6
BIAN2130 Ancient Medicine 6
BIAN2131 Evolutionary Perspectives on Parenting and Childcare 6
BIAN2132 Sexual Selection and Human Evolution 6
BIAN3010 Scientific Dating and Isotope analysis for Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology 6
BIAN3016 Analysis of Mammalian Remains 6
BIAN3021 Primate Conservation Biology 6
BIAN3124 Evolution and Human Behaviour 6
BIAN3129 Supervised Research in Biological Anthropology 6
BIOL2103 Human Physiology 6
BIOL2151 Principles of Genetics 6
BIOL2191 Ecology of Health and Disease 6
BIOL3131 Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology 6
BIOL3142 Parasitology 6
BIOL3204 Human Genetics 6
ENVS2011 Human Ecology 6
ENVS2012 Sustainable Urban Systems 6
PSYC2007 Biological Basis of Behaviour 6

A maximum of 12 units may come from completion of courses from the following list:

1000 level courses in:

  • Anthropology (ANTH)
  • Archaeology (ARCH)
  • Biology (BIOL)
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