MSc Palaeoanthropology


Palaeoanthropology is a discipline that both traces the becoming of humanity, and reflects our own desire to uncover that past and reveal our origins as a species. As such, our study of our own evolutionary past can be defined as part of what it means to be human. It should come as no surprise therefore, that there has been intense academic and public interest in hominid origins and human evolution, nor that advances in our understanding are continually driven forward by new archaeological and palaeontological discoveries. In addition, evolutionary perspectives are increasingly recognised as providing important insights into human cognition, behaviour and life ways.

Our MSc in Palaeoanthropology draws on these developments, and provides you with a unique combination of biological anthropology, human and comparative anatomy, primatology and hominid palaeontology. The programme also offers an introduction to the use of innovative technologies for 2D and 3D imaging of skeletal and fossil materials in palaeoanthropological research, and is designed to appeal to those who want to create a strong platform for doctoral research in palaeoanthropology, as well as those who just want to deepen their understanding of our extinct ancestors.

The programme offers a range of closely integrated core modules in human anatomy and comparative osteology which enable you to develop your knowledge and understanding of the palaeoanthropological record. You will learn to think critically and we will train you in the analytical techniques required to describe and interpret the fossil evidence for early hominid and human evolution. This MSc course is delivered with a widely-developed interdisciplinary perspective, including module options in theoretical and practical aspects of biological anthropology and archaeology, as well as optional modules in philosophy, linguistics and other topics. A wide range of up-to-date resources is available in the department’s  Teaching Laboratories.


Student and graduate profiles

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A fossil circopithecoid

MSc Palaeoanthropology

Duration One year full-time or two years part-time
Semesters The teaching component of the programme will commence late September and is based on semesters (Autumn/Spring). Semester dates are available here. Over the summer you will undertake your independent research in consultation with an academic supervisor. Part-time students will commence this aspect of the programme in the summer of their second year.
Qualification This programme is offered as an MSc (180 credits), Diploma (120 credits) or a Certificate (60 credits).
Assessment Typical forms of assessment include essays, presentations and completion of a research-led dissertation.*

Core Modules:

Information relates to 2018-19 academic year: The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

These compulsory modules will provide you with the key knowledge and understanding for research in Palaeoanthropology:

*While the majority of dissertation projects do not involve any additional cost to the student, you may incur some expenses if you choose a topic that is not resourced by the department.  You will be expected to cover the cost of printing and binding two copies of your dissertation/placement report.

Optional Modules:

You will chose modules worth a total of 30 credits from amongst those offered by departments in the Faculties of Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences or Sciences.  Availability varies from year to year but the following gives a flavour of the kind of specialised modules on offer:

For information on other modules in Archaeology please see our module list.

Full programme specifications are also available.


Kevin Kuykendall

Dr Kevin Kuykendall (Programme Director)

Kevin’s research interests include Plio-Pleistocene hominid fossil site survey and excavation, evolution of early hominid life history, the origin and evolution of Homo sapiens in Africa evolution and variation of the paranasal sinuses in primates.

Umberto Albarella

Prof Umberto Albarella

Umberto specialises in the study of animal bones from archaeological sites (zooarchaeology). His research is wide-ranging and strongly oriented towards the integration of different aspects of archaeology. His work is predominantly based in Britain and Italy and he has also worked in Armenia, Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France and Portugal.

Lizzy Craig

Dr Lizzy Craig-Atkins

Lizzy is a specialist in human osteology and palaeopathology with particular interests in multidisciplinary approaches to questions surrounding past population structures, health, disease and lifestyle. She has worked with human remains from many periods and locations, but her primarily focus is on material from post-Roman to modern periods in the UK.

Pia Nystrom

Dr Pia Nystrom

Pia has many research interests. Those of special interest are examination of skeletal pathology in non-human primates using standards developed for the human species, examining the influence of age, sex, positional behaviour, and captivity. The reconstruction of diet in past societies, especially on an individual level, and how diet impact on individual health, wealth and position within a population. The position of children in past societies, their health and well-being and how well integrated they were within the adult social world.


Academic Requirements:

 We welcome applications from candidates with a good honours degree (2.1/GPA 3.0 or better) in archaeology, anthropology, or one of the natural or earth sciences. Students with an academic background or experience in other relevant fields may also be considered, and should contact the course director.  EU and international student entry requirements can be found using the link below:

English Language Requirements:

For applicants whose first language is not English, IELTS is the preferred test of language. You need an IELTS score of 6.5, with at least 5.5 in all the component tests. Further information can be obtained from the following link:


Funding options, instalment plans and tuition fee information are located at:

There may be additional costs associated with any laboratory work you may undertake such as purchase of laboratory coats, dissection kit (Human Anatomy). For field work you would be required to ensure you have appropriate outdoor clothing and footwear, as well as first aid and emergency equipment. You will also need to purchase books, stationery, IT accessories, etc.

How to Apply:

Applications forms are completed on-line at the following link:

Visit Us:

If you’re considering doing a postgraduate programme at Sheffield, you are very welcome to visit us. You can attend an open day or a visit afternoon, which will include a tour of the University campus and the department, or contact the department directly ( to arrange a personal visit to meet with the director of your chosen programme.


We are truly international in our scope and ethos. Our students come to us from countries all over Europe, Asia and America. Their vibrancy, pursuit of knowledge and divergent experience informs our debates and provokes lively discussion. We encourage applicants to visit the following webpages aimed specifically at our EU and international students.

We also have a departmental page for our international applicants:

Prospective EU Students:

Contact us

If you'd like to know more about any aspect of our courses, please contact us: 


T: +44 (0) 114 222 2900