Human Sciences | University of Oxford
Pitt Rivers Museum
An artifact from the Pitt Rivers Museum.
(Credit: Andrew Gosler)

Human Sciences

mortar boardUCAS codeBCL0calendarDuration3 years (BA)
pencilEntrance requirementsAAAHeadSubject requirements

   Biology, Maths

tickAdmissions test(s)ox.ac.uk/tsacrossWritten workNone
bar chartAdmissions statistics*

Interviewed: 60%
Successful: 17%
Intake: 30
*3-year average 2016-18

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+44 (0) 1865 274702
Email Human Sciences

Subject requirements:       Essential       Recommended       Helpful – may be useful on course

Unistats information for this course can be found at the bottom of the page

Please note that there may be no data available if the number of course participants is very small.

Human Sciences is an interdisciplinary degree which enables students to study the biological, social and cultural aspects of human life, and provides an exciting alternative to some of the more traditional courses offered at Oxford.


The school was founded in 1969 in recognition of the need for interdisciplinary understanding of fundamental issues and problems confronting contemporary societies. Central topics include the evolution of humans and their behaviour, molecular and population genetics, population growth and ageing, ethnic and cultural diversity and human interaction with the environment, including: conservation, disease and nutrition. The study of both biological and social disciplines, integrated within a framework of human diversity and sustainability, should enable the human scientist to develop professional competencies suited to address such multidimensional human problems.

The course draws on specialists from a number of different faculties in the University. Lectures introduce most of the material you will need and provide the core concepts and theories for each paper. Tutorials, given by specialists in different fields, allow you to consider particular topics in greater depth. They also allow students from different academic backgrounds to gain the necessary grounding across a range of subjects.

 student at a lecture students socializing Student studying
“In my first term alone I have studied human geography, anthropology, maths, physiology, genetics and evolution! That’s what I love about Human Sciences – it covers so many different areas and subjects. It’s interesting to develop an understanding of humans as both social and biological creatures by seeing how everything fits together.”
MAIJA-ELIINA
“Human Sciences is the perfect course for ever-curious, ‘all-rounders’ who refuse to be pigeonholed into arts vs sciences. Being exposed to such a wide range of subjects, viewpoints, and approaches fosters a diverse skill set invaluable for any future career.”
JESSAMY   
“Frequently friends on other courses, watching with envy as I studied such diverse and interesting subjects, said to me: "if I had known about Human Sciences earlier, I would have applied for that instead."
CLARE

Human Sciences

A typical week

During Years 1 and 2 your work will be divided between lectures (about ten a week) and tutorials (one or two a week with more in the first year). In addition, some practical experience in genetics, physiology, demography or statistics will be offered in certain terms. Computers are used in the teaching of quantitative methods. In the third year the tutorial and class requirement is reduced to allow more time for option papers and research for your dissertation.

Tutorials are usually 2-4 students and a tutor. Class sizes may vary depending on the options you choose. There would usually be no more than around 20 students although the more popular classes may include up to 30 students. Most tutorials, classes, and lectures are delivered by staff who are tutors in their subject. Many are world-leading experts with years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching may also be delivered by postgraduate students who are usually studying at doctorate level.

To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.

YEAR 1

COURSES

Five compulsory courses are taken:
  • The biology of organisms including humans
  • Genetics and evolution
  • Society, culture and environment
  • Sociology and demography
  • Quantitative methods for the human sciences

ASSESSMENT

First University examinations: five written papers; satisfactory practical record                                                                                                                  
YEAR 2

COURSES

Five courses are taken:
  • Behaviour and its evolution
  • Human genetics and evolution
  • Human ecology
  • Demography and population
  • Either Anthropological analysis and interpretation or Sociological theory

ASSESSMENT

The Human Ecology course is assessed by an extended essay written in the final term of the second year and a presentation given in the first term of Year 3.

YEAR 3

COURSES

  • Dissertation to be completed by the beginning of the final term
  • Option courses (two chosen) from a list which may vary slightly depending on teaching availability: Anthropology of a selected region (for example Africa, Japan, Lowland South America or South Asia); Biological conservation; Evolutionary medicine and public health; Gender theories and realities: Cross-cultural perspectives; General linguistics; Health and disease; Language and social anthropology: An introduction to human skeletal remains; Quantitative methods; Social policy; South and southern Africa; plus a range of psychology options

ASSESSMENT

Final University examinations: currently six written papers and a dissertation; extended essay and presentation (see under Year 2)

The options listed above are illustrative and may change. More information about current options is available on the Human Sciences website.

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

Academic requirements

A-levels: AAA
Advanced Highers:AA/AAB
IB:38 (including core points) with 666 at HL
Or any other equivalent (see other UK qualifications, and international qualifications)                                                           

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.  (See further information on how we use contextual data.) 

Subject requirements

 Helpful:Biology or Mathematics to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or any other equivalent can be helpful to students in completing this course, although they are not required for admission.

If, and only if, you have chosen to take any science A-levels, we expect you to take and pass the practical component in addition to meeting any overall grade requirement.

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.

Applying

All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in applying to Oxford. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Admissions test

Test: TSA
Test date:30 October 2019            
Registration date:                   6pm 15 October 2019                                                                                                      

All candidates must take the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) as part of their application. Separate registration for each test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered for these tests. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline. For everything you need to know, and further guidance on how to prepare, see the TSA page.

Written work

You do not need to submit any written work when you apply for this course.

What are tutors looking for?

The attributes tutors are looking for in applicants include:

  • keenness
  • an ability to see things in context and make connections
  • readiness to modify ideas in the light of evidence
  • the capacity to form and express a personal point of view.

At interview, tutors will not expect you to have any specific prior knowledge of the subject. You will be asked questions designed to help you demonstrate the above attributes. For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the Human Sciences website.

Careers

Recent graduates have found opportunities in fields including the public health, medicine, conservation, the Civil Service, social policy, the charity sector, teaching, the media, the law and industry.

Alison currently works as the Principal Scientist in HIV epidemiology within Public Health England. She says: ‘My undergraduate degree in Human Sciences was excellent preparation for my career. The field of HIV is multifaceted which means we not only measure the prevalence and incidence of HIV but also seek to understand the complexities of sexual behaviour and the political and social context of HIV. Human Sciences gave me a solid grounding in statistical methods, biological and social sciences. Specifically, the cross-disciplinary ethos of the course taught me the importance of collaboration with academics and Human Sciences advocates with a wide range of expertise and the need to interpret data within a social, human context.’

Graduate Vanessa produced the series Frozen Planet. She has worked as a producer/director on a variety of wildlife series including Wildlife on One, The Natural World, Life of Mammals and Planet Earth. She also co-wrote the book accompanying Frozen Planet and has contributed to a number of academic books including The Biology of Religion, as well as magazines on various wildlife and conservation subjects. Several scientific papers have also been published on the basis of exceptional behavioural footage taken on films she has produced.

Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds. We offer a generous package of financial support to Home/EU students from lower-income households. (UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students.)

Latest information for UK and EU undergraduates who will begin their course in 2020 can be found here. Further information for EU students starting in 2020 is available here.

The fees and funding information below relates to those who will start at Oxford in 2020.

Fees

These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2020.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU£9,250
Islands
(Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£9,250
Overseas£28,330

For more information please refer to our course fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2020 are estimated to be between £1,135 and £1,650 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.

Financial support

Home/EU

A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK)/EU students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2020 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to UK and EU students with a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to UK students from households with incomes of £27,500 or less. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support.  See further details.

Islands
(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.

Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man

Overseas

Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford Bursaries and Scholarships page.

*If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for Human Sciences

There are no compulsory costs for this course beyond the fees shown above and your living costs.

Contextual information

Course data from Discover Uni provides applicants with statistics about undergraduate life at Oxford. But there is so much more to an Oxford degree that the numbers can’t convey.

The Oxford tutorial

College tutorials are central to teaching at Oxford. Typically, they take place in your college and are led by your academic tutor(s) who teach as well as do their own research. Students will also receive teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. However, tutorials offer a level of personalised attention from academic experts unavailable at most universities.

During tutorials (normally lasting an hour), college subject tutors will give you and one or two tutorial partners feedback on prepared work and cover a topic in depth. The other student(s) in your college tutorials will be from your year group, doing the same course as you and will normally be at your college. Such regular and rigorous academic discussion develops and facilitates learning in a way that isn’t possible through lectures alone. Tutorials also allow for close progress monitoring so tutors can quickly provide additional support if necessary.

Read more about tutorials and an Oxford education

College life

Our colleges are at the heart of Oxford’s reputation as one of the best universities in the world.

  • At Oxford, everyone is a member of a college as well as their subject department(s) and the University. Students therefore have both the benefits of belonging to a large, renowned institution and to a small and friendly academic community. Each college or hall is made up of academic and support staff, and students. Colleges provide a safe, supportive environment leaving you free to focus on your studies, enjoy time with friends and make the most of the huge variety of opportunities.
  • Each college has a unique character, but generally their facilities are similar. Each one, large or small, will have the following essential facilities:
    • Porters’ lodge (a staffed entrance and reception)
    • Dining hall
    • Lending library (often open 24/7 in term time)
    • Student accommodation
    • Tutors’ teaching rooms
    • Chapel and/or music rooms
    • Laundry
    • Green spaces
    • Common room (known as the JCR).
  • All first year students are offered college accommodation either on the main site of their college or in a nearby college annexe. This means that your neighbours will also be ‘freshers’ and new to life at Oxford. This accommodation is guaranteed, so you don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to live after accepting a place here, all of this is organised for you before you arrive.
  • All colleges offer at least one further year of accommodation and some offer it for the entire duration of your degree. You may choose to take up the option to live in your college for the whole of your time at Oxford, or you might decide to arrange your own accommodation after your first year – perhaps because you want to live with friends from other colleges.
  • While college academic tutors primarily support your academic development, you can also ask their advice on other things. Lots of other college staff including welfare officers help students settle in and are available to offer guidance on practical or health matters. Current students also actively support students in earlier years, sometimes as part of a college ‘family’ or as peer supporters trained by the University’s Counselling Service.

More about Oxford colleges and how you choose