Human Sciences

human sciences

Course Infomation


Dr Amanda Palmer

Dr Alexandra Alvergne

Faculty Website

Subject Page

Human Sciences

Students admitted: c. 3 per year

The Human Sciences degree is an exciting and unique interdisciplinary course at Oxford; it is the only undergraduate degree that spans the biological and social sciences. The course’s Director of Studies, Dr Amanda Palmer, herself read Human Sciences as a mature student at Oxford. That experience enables her to help and support mature students in pursuit of their studies. In addition, the college Librarian is able to provide students with excellent resources to assist them in their studies.

Approximately thirty students per year are admitted to read Human Sciences across eight different Oxford colleges and Harris Manchester College typically offers three places a year to mature students. Being a small School, Human Sciences students benefit from becoming part a cohesive and friendly student group with a support network that spans the three years of the degree programme. Indeed, many lifelong friendships are forged among alumni. In addition, the students have their own dedicated Pauling Centre for Human Sciences at 58a, Banbury Road where many of the lectures takes place. It also has a small library and reading room and is a place where students can meet for coffee and lunches. The course Administrator is also situated in this building and is regularly available to help students with any queries.

The Course

The degree itself consists of a Preliminary first year at the end of which exams are taken in order to progress to the next two years of the Final Honours School with exams sat at the end of the third year. Full details of the core subjects undertaken, including an extensive list of Option subjects taken in the third year, are available on the Human Sciences website at Human Sciences.  Essentially though, the degree involves detailed study of Genetics and Evolution, Animal Behaviour, Ecology, Demography, Sociology and Anthropology with an introductory first year course in Quantitative Methods. A wide range of tutors, all specialists in their own discipline, are used for tutorial teaching and students will find that their tutorials will be conducted in various departmental and college venues. Human Scientists therefore get to see plenty of Oxford over the course of three years.

One exciting feature of the degree is that, as part of third year assessed work, students write an interdisciplinary 10,000-word dissertation on a topic of their choice, the requirement being that their chosen topic is approached by combining at least subject areas covered within the degree. Students typically find this to be the most satisfying part of the course because it enables them to create a synthesis between the various subjects they have been studying.

Career Options

Equipped with a BA(Hons) in Human Sciences, many students progress to Masters level study. There are multiple postgraduate options available to Human Scientists because of the breadth of coverage of the degree. The School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME) , within which Human Sciences is situated, itself has a wide-ranging Masters programme but there are many other postgraduate avenues that can be taken in the field of Genetics, Medicine, and the Social Sciences. Employment destinations of alumni are equally varied, with students working in both the public and private sector, for example in education, in finance and banking, in conservation, in voluntary organisations and in the media, to name just a few.

If you are aged 21 or over, and want a varied and intellectually challenging degree course, one that encompasses many of today’s social, biological and environmental issues, then this course is for you.

Want to see more? Then view Human Sciences at Oxford on You Tube