Postgraduate Module Descriptor

ANTM113: Humans and Other Primates

This module descriptor refers to the 2021/2 academic year.


NQF Level7
Credits15 ECTS Value7.5
Term(s) and duration

This module will run during term 3 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Alexander Badman-King (Convenor)

Dr Samantha Hurn (Convenor)

Available via distance learning




The study of nonhuman primates is primarily the preserve of zoologists, ethologists and primatologists, although in some academic institutions primatology falls under the remit of anthropology departments as a sub-discipline of physical or biological anthropology. Primatology itself can be broken down into sub-disciplines, such as ethnoprimatology and cultural primatology. Despite the similar nomenclature, ethnoprimatology and cultural primatology are two distinctly different areas of academic interest and enquiry. Ethnoprimatology looks at the human–nonhuman interface and involves researchers observing and documenting contemporary human interactions with primates on the ground. Cultural primatology on the other hand involves the investigation of ‘culture’ in primates, and the complex sociality which exists within this order. Such an endeavour has significant implications for our understanding of the human species, and cultural primatology is often utilised by palaeoanthropologists and archaeologists interested in the origins of anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens). Within the module you will explore the work of field and laboratory based researchers, such as Jane Goodall's long-term observations of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in the Gombe, Tanzania, and Shirley Strum's research on Olive baboons (Papio anubis) in Kenya. This engagement with a large body of empirical data on nonhuman primate behavioural ecology, communication and sociality allows for theoretical discussions concerning important anthrozoological questions such as do nonhuman primates exhibit 'cultural' behaviours? Is there a risk of anthropomorphism in multi-species ethnographic research? Do nonhuman primates represent useful models for reconstructing early human societies? And how can humans and nonhuman primates co-exist in areas where species compete for scarce resources? There are no pre- or co-requisites for this module. The module is suitable for non-specialist students and interdisciplinary pathways.

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