2 and 3 July, and 19 September 2014 ox.ac.uk/opendays
What is Human Sciences?
Human Sciences studies the biological, social and cultural aspects of human life, and provides a challenging 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, their behaviour, molecular and population genetics, population growth and ageing, ethnic and cultural diversity and the 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.
The course is unusual in having its own building within the University, the Pauling Human Sciences Centre. It has a seminar/lecture room, tutorial rooms and a reading room. The Human Sciences Centre office is a particularly valuable resource, offering a variety of information and guidance about teaching arrangements, lecture timetables, course syllabuses, and books and journals in other libraries to which students have access. In addition, the centre has a cross-section of books covering different aspects of the course, which are specifically chosen for undergraduate use. The centre is also a focus for many informal activities, ranging from student-organised symposia to regular lunches. In general, the centre provides a friendly base which contributes greatly to undergraduates’ involvement in the course.
Work placements/international opportunities
There are no formal arrangements for work placements but students are encouraged to take part in small-scale research projects or expeditions during the summer holidays.
A typical weekly timetable
During years 1 and 2 your work is divided between lectures (about ten a week) and tutorials (one or two a week). In addition, some practical experience in genetics, physiology, demography and statistics is offered in certain terms. Computers are used for the option in quantitative methods and sometimes in small group teaching in demography. In the third year the tutorial and class requirement is reduced to allow more time for option papers and students’ research for their dissertations.
Human Sciences Statement
If you wish, you may submit a statement of around 100 words about why you would like to study Human Sciences. Please submit this using the online form at www.admissions.ox.ac.uk/hsstatement by 10 November 2014.
What are tutors looking for?
The attributes tutors are looking for in applicants include:
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.
Students interested in this course might also like to consider Archaeology and Anthropology, Biochemistry (Molecular and Cellular), Biological Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Earth Sciences (Geography), Geography, Psychology (Experimental) and Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics.
While some Human Sciences graduates will go on to academic and professional training in medicine, genetics, demography, anthropology and sociology, others move into different areas. Recent graduates have found opportunities in fields including the Civil Service, government, health services, teaching, the media, law, industry, commerce, computing, management consultancy and accountancy, and include an editor and writer of children’s books, a financial analyst and a solicitor.
Alison, who graduated in 2000, currently works as the Principal Scientist in HIV epidemiology at the Health Protection Agency. 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 advocates with a wide range of expertise and the need to interpret data within a social, human context.
Vanessa, who graduated in 1991, 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.
For more information about careers after Oxford, please see p 122 [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note].
CUTTING EDGE HUMAN SCIENCES
From the nature of evil to apes with a GSOH, find out what Oxford’s Human Scientists are up to by following us on Twitter @Oxford_HumSci.
Five compulsory courses are taken, plus a start on the dissertation and two optional courses.
Behaviour and its evolution, animal and human
Human genetics and evolution
Demography and population
Either Anthropological analysis and interpretation; or Sociological theory
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 Europe, Japan, Lowland South America, South Asia, or West Africa); Cognition and culture; Cognitive and evolutionary anthropology; Evolution and medicine; Gender theories and realities: cross-cultural perspectives; Health and disease; Language; Physical and forensic anthropology: an introduction to human skeletal remains; Quantitative methods; Social policy; Sociology of post-industrial societies; South and southern Africa; plus a range of psychology options.
Final University examinations: Seven written papers; a dissertation
I wanted a course that would be really interesting at all times... Human Sciences really ticks that box. Susannah