Honour School of Human Sciences

A

  • 1. The subject of the Honour School of Human Sciences shall be the biological and social aspects of the study of human beings.

  • 2. No candidate shall be admitted for examination in this school unless he or she has either passed or been exempted from the First Public Examination.

  • 3. The examination shall be under the supervision of the Social Sciences Board, which shall appoint a Teaching Committee for Human Sciences to supervise the arrangements for this examination and the Preliminary Examination in Human Sciences, to consult as necessary with contributing teachers and others; and to carry out such other functions as may be laid down by the Divisional Board by standing order. The committee shall be recognised as having an interest in appointments specifically concerned with the Honour School, and the bodies responsible for such appointments shall ensure that the selection committees for such posts include at least one member appointed in consultation with the committee. It shall be responsible for such funds as the Divisional Board may place at its disposal for general purposes connected with Human Sciences.

B

The Honour School is divided into two sections. All candidates will be required to offer papers: 1, 2, 3 (examined by extended essay and a presentation), 4, 5(a), or 5(b), a dissertation (paper 6) and two option papers (7 and 8):

  • 1. Behaviour and its Evolution: Animal and Human

  • 2. Human Genetics and Evolution

  • 3. Human Ecology

  • 4. Demography and Population The examiners will permit the use of any hand-held pocket calculator subject to the conditions set out under the heading ‘Use of calculators in examinations’ in the Special Regulations concerning Examinations.

  • 5(a). Anthropological analysis and Interpretation or 5(b). Sociological Theory

    The date by which students must make their choice will be stated in the course handbook.

  • 6. Dissertation

  • 7. and 8. Candidates will also be required to offer any two optional subjects from a list posted in the Human Sciences Centre at the beginning of the first week of Hilary Full Term in the year preceding the final examination. These lists will also be circulated to College Tutors. The date by which students must make their choice will be stated in the course handbook.

Schedule of Subjects

  • 1. Behaviour and its Evolution: Animal and Human

    Introduction to the study of behaviour including the evolution of behavioural interactions within groups. Behavioural strategies that have evolved in humans and other animals. The use of models to understand complex behaviour. Advanced ethology and cognition, including learning. Perception and decision-making. Primate behaviour and evolutionary ecology, including the development of primate social systems and the evolution of cognition. This paper will be examined by an unseen written examination paper.

  • 2. Human Genetics and Evolution

    The nature and structure of the human genome, including single gene traits, gene function, and assessment of social implications. Population genetics of humans and primates. Quantitative genetics and complex trait analysis in humans. Genomic complexity as illustrated by the genetic basis for immune response. Molecular evolution, human genetic diversity and the genetic basis of human evolution. Genetic basis of common complex diseases. Human behaviour, cognition and cultural transmission in the context of six million years of physiological evolution and ecological change. This paper will be examined by an unseen written examination paper.

  • 3. Human Ecology

    Human ecology of disease, emphasising diseases that significantly contribute to the global burden of mortality and cultural change. Diet and nutrition anthropology of human societies. Ethno-biology and its cultural, ontological and epistemological contextualization, including Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), Ethno-linguistics and the principles of folk-naming and folk-taxonomy of organisms, Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK) and the significance of place, and practical applications of ethnobiology including biological conservation. [For students starting before MT 2017: Ecology of human reproduction, including cultural differences in reproductive strategies.]

  • This paper will be examined by an extended essay not exceeding 5,000 words (including references and footnotes but excluding bibliography) and a presentation. The essay will be chosen from a list of titles published by the Examiners on Monday of Week 1 of Trinity Term of their second year.

    Essays should be word-processed in double-line spacing and should conform to the standards of academic presentation prescribed in the course handbook. Two copies of the essay must be delivered to the Examination Schools (addressed to the Chair of Examiners of the Final Honour School of Human Sciences, High Street, Oxford) not later than 12 noon on Friday of Week 6 of Trinity Term of their second year.

    Candidates will be required to give a short presentation on the topic of the extended essay in Michaelmas Term of their Final year. The exact date of the presentation will be notified to students by Week 1 of Michaelmas Term. The presentation will be assessed for clarity and engagement and contributes 5% of the final mark for the extended essay.

  • 4. Demography and Population

    Candidates will be expected to show knowledge of the major features of past and present population trends, the socio-economic, environmental and biomedical factors affecting fertility, mortality and migration; the social, economic and political consequences of population growth, decline and ageing; and major controversies in demographic theory.

    Specific topics will include traditional and transitional population systems in historical and contemporary societies; demographic transitions and their interpretation; demographic processes in post-transitional societies (modern Europe and other industrial areas) including very low fertility, longer life, international migration and new patterns of marriage and family; the changing position of women in the workforce; ethnic dimensions of demographic change; and policy interventions.

    The paper will also test knowledge of demographic analysis and techniques including data sources, the quantitative analysis of fertility and mortality, the life table, the stable population and other population models, population dynamics and projections, and limits to fertility and the lifespan. The paper will comprise two sections. Section 1 will test the candidate’s knowledge of substantive trends and their explanation. Section 2 will test the candidate’s ability to interpret quantitative results and the methods of demographic analysis. Candidates will be required to answer three questions, two from Section 1 and one from Section 2.

  • 5(a). Anthropological analysis and interpretation

    The comparative study of social and cultural forms in the global context: to include economics and exchange, domestic structures and their reproduction, personal and collective identity, language and religion, states and conflict, understanding of biology and environment, historical perspectives on the social world and upon practice in anthropology. This paper will be examined by an unseen written examination paper.

  • 5(b). Sociological Theory

    [For students starting before MT 2017: Theoretical perspectives including rational choice; evolutionary psychology; interpersonal interaction; social integration and networks; functionalism. Substantive problems including stratification; gender; race and ethnicity; collective action; norms; ideology. Candidates will be expected to use theories to explain substantive problems. This paper will be examined by an unseen written examination paper.] [For students starting from MT 2017: Theoretical perspectives which may include rational choice; evolutionary psychology; interpersonal interaction; social integration and networks; functionalism. Substantive problems which may include stratification; gender; nationalism, race and ethnicity; collective action; norms; ideology; economic development; gangs and organized crime. Candidates will be expected to use theories to explain substantive problems. This paper will be examined by an unseen written examination paper.]

  • 6. Dissertation

    • (a) Subject

      In the dissertation the candidate will be required to focus on material from within the Honour School, and must show knowledge of more than one of the basic approaches to the study of Human Sciences. The subject may, but need not, overlap any subject on which the candidate offers papers. Candidates are warned that they should avoid repetition in papers of material used in their dissertation and that substantial repetition may be penalised.

      Every candidate shall deliver for approval to the Chair of the Human Sciences Teaching Committee c/o the Academic Administrator, Institute of Human Sciences, The Pauling Centre, 58a Banbury Road, the title he or she proposes together with:

      • (i) an explanation of the subject in about 100 words explicitly mentioning the two or more basic approaches to the study of Human Sciences that will be incorporated in the dissertation.

      • (ii) a letter of approval from his or her tutor and the name(s) of the advisor(s) who will supervise the dissertation.

      This should not be earlier than the first day of Trinity Full Term of the year before that in which the candidate is to be examined and not later than 12 midday on Friday of the fifth week of the same term.

      The Chair of the Teaching Committee, in consultation with the Chair of Examiners and other Senior Members if necessary, shall as soon as possible decide whether or not to approve the title and shall advise the candidate through his or her college. No decision shall normally be deferred beyond the end of the eighth week of the relevant Trinity Term.

      Proposals to change the title of the dissertation may be made in exceptional circumstances and will be considered by the Chair of the Teaching Committee until the first day of Hilary Full Term of the year in which the student is to be examined, or only by the Chair of Examiners thereafter, but not later than the last day of the same term. Proposals to change the title of the dissertation should be made through the candidate's college via the Academic Administrator, Institute of Human Sciences, The Pauling Centre, 58a Banbury Road.

    • (b) Authorship and origin

      The dissertation must be the candidates' own work. Tutors may, however, discuss with candidates the proposed field of study, the sources available and the method of presentation. They may also read and comment on a first draft. Every candidate shall sign a certificate to the effect that the thesis is his or her own work and that it has not already been submitted, wholly or substantially, for another Honour School or degree of this University, or for a degree of any other institution. This certificate shall be submitted separately in a sealed envelope addressed to the chair of examiners. No dissertation shall, however, be ineligible because it has been or is being submitted for any prize of this University.

    • (c) Length and format

      No dissertation shall[For students starting before MT 2017: be less than 5,000 words nor] exceed 10,000 words; no person or body shall have authority to permit any excess. Candidates may include appendices which will not count towards the word limit. However the examiners are not bound to read the appendices and they shall not be taken into consideration when marking the dissertation. There shall be a select bibliography or a list of sources; this shall not be included in the word count. Each dissertation shall be prefaced by an abstract of not more than 350 words which shall not be included in the overall word count. All dissertations must be typed on A4 paper and be held firmly in a cover. Two copies of the dissertation shall be submitted to the examiners.

    • (d) Submissions of dissertation

      Every candidate shall deliver two copies of the dissertation to the Chair of Examiners, Honour School of Human Sciences, Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford, not later than noon on Friday of the week preceding Trinity Full Term in the year of the examination.

    • (e) Resubmission of dissertation

      Dissertations previously submitted for the Honour School of Human Sciences may be resubmitted. No dissertation will be accepted if it has already been submitted, wholly or substantially, for another Honour School or degree of this University, or for a degree of any other institution.