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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: Social Networks and Behavioural Ecology (HSPS Paper BAN2)

This paper examines the structure and functioning of social networks. We start with an examination of how characteristic social network structures appear repeatedly in human affairs, resulting in equally characteristic patterns in the transmission of disease, attitudes, culture and other quantities. We then examine how the structure and dynamics of social networks are influenced by the cognitive mechanisms that individuals apply in making social decisions. We focus particularly on the way that social influence affects decision making, using examples from both internet social networks such as Facebook and contemporary “real world” social networks. We then compare and contrast these contemporary examples with examples from traditional foraging societies, non-human primates, and other animals.

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

Information contacts

For information regarding Major Subjects such as content and timetables, please see the contact details on the Major Subjects webpage.

For information regarding Minor Subjects such as content and timetables, please see the contact details on the Minor Subjects webpage.

For general administration of BBS and general questions which cannot be answered in departments, please contact the Faculty of Biology Office (, (7)66899)

If you wish to move to or from BBS or wish to change Major and/or Minor subject(s), please contact the departments involved AND the Faculty of Biology Office.