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Human Sciences at Magdalen

The Human Sciences course studies humans as biological and social animals. Equal weight is given to these two aspects. In the first year, the major topics covered are the Biology of organisms including humans; Genetics & evolution; Society, culture & the environment; Sociology & demography; and Quantitative methods for the human sciences.

In the second year of the course, students study five compulsory topics: Behaviour & its evolution; Human genetics & evolution; Human ecology; Demography & population; and either Anthropological analysis & interpretation or Sociological theory. In the third year, students choose two out of several optional papers according to their interests; in addition, every student is expected to write a 10,000-word essay on a Human Sciences topic of their choice.

At Magdalen we admit two or three students in Human Sciences each year. The course is overseen by Professor Laura Fortunato, Tutorial Fellow in Evolutionary Anthropology. Professor Fortunato’s own training in both biology and anthropology aligns closely with the inter-disciplinary nature of the Human Sciences degree, as does her research on the evolution of human social and cultural behaviour.

Human Sciences students at Magdalen have the opportunity to interact with a large cohort of students in Biological Sciences and in Archaeology and Anthropology. Fellows in these subjects have interests ranging from the evolution of social behaviour in bacteria to the visual and material culture of the Himalayas, providing a stimulating intellectual environment to study Human Sciences.