What is Anthropology?

Anthropology is the study of people, where they came from, how they live in different societies around the world and how they interact with their environment.

Anthropologists are interested in people everywhere – in factory workers in Burnley, Goths in Berlin, communities in the Amazon, government officials in Papua New Guinea. In all these cases, anthropologists are interested in how society works, how people live, their beliefs, customs, ideas, religions, myths, prejudices and aspirations. Anthropologists are also interested in how humans evolved, in the whole history of human development and in the more biological aspects of human society today, for example nutrition, genetic variation, resistance to diseases and adaptation to the environment. Anthropology in Britain encompasses two main strands: Biological Anthropology and Social Anthropology. In addition to social and biological anthropology, there is a growing number of sub-disciplines such as Medical Anthropology and Environmental Anthropology.

To find out more about the diversity anthropology has to offer visit our Discover Anthropology website.


Studying anthropology teaches people to think critically about their own society – to see it in relation to the many other cultures and societies in the world and to understand how it is continually evolving. Anthropology gives people a broad knowledge about the world, about global politics, economic development, cultures and beliefs and an understanding of the realities of life in many countries. This isn’t just useful for becoming a professional anthropologist! People with anthropology degrees have gone on to work in education, in government, advertising, NGOs, charities, museums, and TV. Take a look at real-life case studies through this website.

Studying Anthropology at University

There are many different ways to study anthropology. Some universities teach biological and social anthropology as separate degrees, others don’t distinguish between the two. Anthropology is often taught together with another subject such as archaeology or a language. Find out more about about studying anthropology through this website.