MSc in Human Anatomy and Evolution

About the course

This course offers a unique opportunity to study human anatomy from an evolutionary perspective, providing you with a detailed understanding of human and primate evolution, focusing on anatomy and morphology and their interfaces with ecology and behaviour.

The skills and techniques you learn will position you as a leader in the field of human evolutionary anatomy. As well as providing a platform for more advanced research, the course will equip you well for careers in a whole range of academic, medical and archaeological fields.

You will investigate how the anatomy of the human body has developed over time; the biology of bone, teeth and soft tissue; explore the physical capabilities of early humans and other Primates and undertake a practical research project of your choice, in consultation with your supervisor, to investigate a current question in evolutionary anatomy.

Teaching is delivered by Hull York Medical School and Archaeology faculty staff at the University of York. You will be registered at the University of York, but you will have access to facilities and support at both our parent universities – Hull and York. All of our degrees are awarded by both the University of Hull and University of York.


There are three core modules and a choice of eight electives (alongside a selection of archaeology skill modules) totalling 100 credits. An additional 80 credits will be gained through an independent research project.

Core modules

Hard Tissue Biology (20 credits)

You will examine the structure, function, growth and development of musculoskeletal and dental tissues. You will also understand how skeletal and dental hard tissues can be used for the recovery of information on growth, development and life history.

Primate Ecology and Evolution (20 credits)

You will develop an advanced understanding of primate ecology and evolution, with a focus on diet, habitat exploitation, body size, activity pattern, social behaviour, life history and community structure, gaining a broad overview of primate evolution, from the origins of the order around 65 million years ago to the present day.

Human Evolutionary Anatomy (20 credits)

You will gain an advanced understanding of the hominin fossil record, focusing particularly on the interpretation of anatomical material and current methods. In this module you will also examine casts and CT scans of the major fossil specimens, as well as comparative material.

Elective modules

Basic and Advanced Skills in Geometric Morphometrics (two 5 credit modules)

In this module you will have the opportunity to work with internationally renowned specialists to gain a firm foundation in the essential theory and practice of geometric morphometrics (size and shape analysis) and how it is applied to the study of phenotypic and functional variation.

Basic and Advanced Skills in Virtual Anatomies (two 5 credit modules)

This module allows students to explore the theory and practice of modern imaging, 3D modelling, 3D printing and visualisation methods (‘virtual anatomies’) and their application to virtual anthropology, digital reconstruction and simulation.

Functional and Musculoskeletal Anatomy (20 credits)

You will gain a firm foundation in human musculoskeletal anatomy from the perspectives of function and evolution. You will also explore the evolution and development of limbs, their common organisation and different functions.

Special Topics in Musculoskeletal Anatomy (20 credits)

For those students with a background in anatomy, through this module you will extend your understanding and knowledge of the musculoskeletal system in relation to a specific anatomical topic. Examine human anatomy from the perspective of function and evolution, through dissection.

Becoming Human (20 credits)

You will consider the fascinating question of what it means to be ‘human’. You will also study the key phases in the evolution of ‘humanity’ and gain a critical awareness of how the evidence is interpreted.

Ancient Biomolecules (20 credits)

This module is principally targeted at osteoarchaeologists, with a focus on the analysis of skeletal materials, but will more broadly appeal to anyone who is likely to encounter biomolecular data sets in the course of their research or professional career


Entry requirements

Open to strong graduates in anatomy, anthropology, archaeology, biology, psychology, zoology and other related fields. Minimum 2.1 or equivalent.

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to demonstrate evidence of proficiency in English language as follows: IELTS: 7.0 (in the ‘Academic’ test, with minimum score of 5.5 in all four language competences: Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing). The University of York offer pre-sessional English language courses for international students who do not meet the English language requirements for their degree.

The course is also well suited for intercalating medical students. For intercalating students, a minimum of 3 years of successful MBBS or comparable medical qualifications is required.

Tuition fees

Home / EU students (2019/20)

  • Full time: £8,590
  • Part time: Fees pro-rated as appropriate

Overseas students (2019/20)

  • Full-time: £21,640
  • Part time: Fees pro-rated as appropriate