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BBS Part II - Biological Anthropology

The Department of Biological Anthropology offer three Minor Subjects in NST Part II BBS.
These papers are borrowed from Part II A of the Biological Anthropology section of the Human, Social and Political Sciences Tripos.

The Department can accept up to seven BBS students for each paper.


Paper 103: Health and Disease (HSPS Paper BAN8)

This paper explores how disease has shaped the way humans have evolved, and how diseases have evolved to exploit humans. From conception to death, humans undergo a process of development that is shaped by both genes and environment. The patterns of such development can be framed in terms of life history theory, the role of nutrition, and the interactions between demography and threats to life such as disease, and the way in which reproduction is integrated into the lifespan. The paper also addresses the questions of how hominin genetic variation influences our susceptibility to infectious diseases; and how neglected tropical diseases in Africa and elsewhere have an increasingly global impact.

Paper 104: Human evolution and palaeolithic archaeology (HSPS Paper BAN3)

This course provides a foundation in Human Evolution and Palaeolithic Archaeology. The paper looks at human evolution from ca. 10 million years ago to 10,000 years ago. We will be exploring the origins of the hominins and their relationship to the apes, the emergence of bipedalism in an ecological framework, and the adaptive radiation of hominins between 4 and 2 million years ago. We examine the first tool use of hominins more than 2.5 Mio years ago, and the factors shaping the evolution of early Homo and their technology within Africa. From shortly after 2 million years ago, hominins dispersed beyond Africa, and we will look at the fossil and archaeological record for these dispersals and adaptations, and the world of the iconic hand-axes and their makers. We examine in detail the emergence and dispersal of anatomically modern humans, giving particular focus on the diversity of their technology and adaptations in different parts of the world, and their relationship to both the climate in which they evolved and the archaic competitors such as Neanderthals whom they out-survived. We will explore the modern human dispersal(s) into nearly all parts of the world during the Late Pleistocene. How did modern humans respond to the environmental changes that occurred during the last glacial maximum about 22,000 years ago? We will finish with exploring the variability and diversity of human adaptations and responses to the climatic changes towards the end of the last ice age around 11,500 years ago.

Paper 105: Behavioural ecology and adaptation (HSPS Paper BAN2)

This paper examines the structure and functioning of social networks. We start by defining measures of social network structure and using disease to illustrate characteristic transmission dynamics like waves and superspreading that are also typical of attitudes and culture. We then study how the recursive application of simple behavioural rules tends to generate both characteristic network scaling patterns and abrupt phase transitions in behaviour or social attitudes. We the focus on the way that influence flows through social networks, using examples from both “real world” examples such as the Brexit vote and online social networks such as Facebook. Finally, we examine how the structure and dynamics of social networks are influenced by the cognitive mechanisms that individuals apply in making both social and non-social decisions. In particular, we use a comparative approach to show that the brain mechanisms that control human perceptions of social and semantic distance are essentially identical to evolutionarily ancient brain mechanisms that guide animal foraging.

Further detailed information is available from the Biological Anthropology website here.