Culture and Evolution PhD
MPhil option available
This course has an MPhil option
PhD student loans
The UK Government has introduced PhD loans of up to £25000 to UK and EU nationals, residing in England, for postgraduate research programmes starting in the academic year 2018-19. Read more here.
About the course
Research students are welcomed to Brunel as valued members of our thriving, research-intensive community. A research degree provides the opportunity to investigate a topic in depth, and contribute new knowledge to your discipline. A PhD involves demonstrating through original research or other advanced scholarship the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge at the forefront of an academic discipline or professional practice, the ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the general of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline. Both full-time (3 years) and part-time (6 years) study routes are available. Find out more about Research Degrees at Brunel.
Research students are welcomed to Brunel as valued members of our thriving, research-intensive community. A research degree provides the opportunity to investigate a topic in depth, and contribute new knowledge to your discipline. An MPhil involves the exploration of a research topic and is typically studied over a shorter period of 1 year for a full-time student and 2 years for a part-time student. MPhil students are required to demonstrate a systematic understanding of knowledge and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights informed by the forefront of their discipline, field of study or professional practice.
Research in the area of Culture and Evolution focuses on cultural variation in, and evolutionary origins of, psychology and behaviour – integration of proximate and ultimate perspectives, across levels of analysis from individual biology and personality, through group and social processes to the broader culture. Our research brings together outstanding evolutionary, cross-cultural and other psychologists and will include evolutionary approaches to human psychology such as human behavioural ecology categorised in these three strands:
- Relationships – E.g. interpersonal attraction and mate choice, relationship maintenance and satisfaction, jealousy etc. Also intergroup relations (between cultures and ethnic groups).
- Morality – E.g. what is considered right and wrong, political beliefs, views on resource distribution etc.
- Conflict & Cooperation – E.g. interpersonal and intergroup, sexual conflict and intrasexual competition, sources of conflict such as inequality etc.
Some more specific examples of topics emphasised by CCE researchers—all relevant to at least one of the above themes—are listed below, followed by the names of CCE members conducting research in each topic.
- Attitudes towards, and behavioral consequences of, inequality (Clark, Pound, Price, Scott)
- Close personal relationships (Gaines, Marshall)
- Community and wellbeing (Launay, Price)
- Competitiveness and risk-taking among males (Pound)
- Cooperation within groups, including between leaders and followers (Price, Scott)
- Cultural variation in prosocial behaviours (Imada)
- Emotions in social relationships, such as jealousy (Imada, Marshall, Schuetzwohl)
- Impact of social media on relationships (Marshall)
- Music, singing, and social bonding (Launay)
- Physical and physiological (e.g. gait, muscularity, hormonal) predictors of social and moral attitudes (Clark, Pound, Price)
- Physical attractiveness, mate preferences and mating strategies (Clark, Pound, Price, Scott)
- Relationship of facial morphology to political and moral attitudes (Pound, Scott)
- Relevance of ethnicity in personal relationships (Gaines)
Find out more
Contact our Enquiries team.
Course Enquiries: +44 (0)1895 265599 (before you submit an application)
Admissions Office: +44 (0)1895 265265 (after you submit an application)
Research degrees evolve in different ways according to discipline. Find out about what progress might look like at each stage of study here: Research degree progress structure
Careers and your future
Paid work available to research students
Undertaking teaching and learning support duties represents an important professional and career development opportunity for postgraduate research students. Brunel offers two levels of paid work available to Postgraduate Research students. The first level post is as a Demonstrator and the second level post is as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA). Teaching and learning support duties will vary between Departments and research students should not rely on such opportunities being available. Find out more here.
Following the completion of the course students may follow several career paths:
- Career path within academia starting as a University Lecturer/Assistant Professor
- Career progression within research institutes commencing as a post-doc researcher and progressing to senior researcher
- The career progression within the bio-pharmaceutical sector including project management and above
- The career path within the government agencies (e.g. Department of Health, Public Health England) or international agencies (UN, WHO, IAEA etc.)
- Career path within NHS including specialist research laboratories.
At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.
» More about Employability
Entry criteria 2019/20
The general University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree. All international students must show evidence that they meet the English requirement for their course of study. The Senate reserves the right to assess the eligibility of applicants on an individual basis.
As part of our application process for entry on our research degree (MPhil and PhD) programmes, we ask you to provide a 500-1,000 word research statement, excluding any references/bibliography you may include, setting out your research motivation, ideas and aspirations. Learn how to prepare a research statement here.
Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.
International and EU entry requirements
If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions
This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.
English language requirements
- IELTS: 7 (min 6 in all areas)
- Pearson: 64 (51 in all subscores)
- BrunELT: 70% (min 60% in all areas)
You can find out more about the qualifications we accept on our English Language Requirements page.
If you require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK, you must prove knowledge of the English language so that we can issue you a Certificate of Acceptance for Study (CAS). To do this, you will need an IELTS for UKVI or Trinity SELT test pass gained from a test centre approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and on the Secure English Language Testing (SELT) list. This must have been taken and passed within two years from the date the CAS is made.
Should you wish to take a pre-sessional English course to improve your English prior to starting your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider for the same reason.
We offer our own BrunELT English Test and have pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet requirements or who wish to improve their English. You can find out more information on English courses and test options at the Brunel Language Centre.
Teaching and learning
Supervisors with insight
Our supervisors create knowledge and advance understanding, and equip research students with the confidence to apply what they have learnt for the benefit of society. Browse all potential supervisor profiles further here.
Each student will be allocated a supervisory team consisting of the principal supervisor, second supervisor and a Research Development Advisor. The supervisory team will set teaching and learning targets and advise the student how to achieve them. The progress of each student will be assessed by the supervisory team at regular meetings and by a formal Progress Review Panel at 9 months for full-time students (18 months for part-time students) and then annually. All academic supervisors receive university supported training in the supervision of PhD students.
Find out more about working with the Supervisory Team here.
Our researchers publish regularly in the world’s leading journals in psychology (cross-cultural, evolutionary, and social), behavioural biology, and related disciplines. Their work has appeared recently in, for example, Archives of Sexual Behavior; Behavioural Ecology; Biology Letters; Cognition and Emotion; Cross-Cultural Research; Ethology; Evolution & Human Behaviour; Identity; Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology; Journal of International Development; Journal of Personality and Social Psychology; Journal of Theoretical Biology; Personal Relationships; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA; Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
We provide students with a unique opportunity to focus on the two most fundamental and powerful influences on human behaviour: evolution and culture. Many programmes emphasise either one or the other of these influences, but the CCE places a special emphasis on the integration of these two levels of analysis. In doing so, we aim to produce the deepest, most thorough, and most useful possible explanations for human behaviour.
Our researchers have access to:
- Extensive psychology laboratory facilities for behavioural experiments (e.g., staff laboratory space and cubicles housing computers with specialist software)
- Specialist equipment for facial photography and anthropometric measurements
- An NX12 [TC]² 3D Body Scanner for taking anthropometric measurements and creating 3D body models (owned and housed by the College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences)
- An FLIR A655sc Infrared Camera for thermal imaging (used in collaboration with Garrido of the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience)
Study environment for research students
Find out more: Study environment for research students
Excellent research support and training
Extensive training and support is offered to all research students by the Graduate School, with regular Masterclasses and individual advice on academic issues as part of the Researcher Development Programme. Read more about the available Research Support and Training.
Brunel's library is open 24 hours a day, has 400,000 books and 250,000 e-books, and an annual budget of almost £2m. Subject Information Specialists train students in the latest technology, digital literacy, and digital dissemination of scholarly outputs.
- state-of-the-art research information management tools including a research publication and grant database
- one of the largest UK’s full text repository
- an integrated data management system
- analytical tools such as Altmertic and InCites
- Open Access centrally managed fund
Facts and figures
- In the 2014 REF, 59% of our overall research activity was rated as either “world leading” or “internationally excellent”. Our research environment was rated as 100% “internationally excellent”. In terms of impact of our research on wider society, 73% of our submission (in areas such as screening for dyslexia and health promotion) was rated as 4*, i.e., outstanding in terms of its reach and significance. We were assessed as having an “exemplary strategic approach to impact”.
- Brunel University London REF2014 Submission: Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The results of the REF2014 have been made public in December 2014, replacing the previous REF conducted in 2008. The next REF will be undertaken in 2020. Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 - A Guide for PhD Students
- Recent grants were awarded by the Welcome Trust, British Academy, Bial Foundation, and the Leverhulme Trust.
Fees and funding
Fees for 2019/20 entry
Fees (per year):
Part-time (for students not requiring Tier 4 visa)
Research projects undertaken within the Department of Life Sciences in the areas of Biosciences; Environmental Sciences; Psychology and Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences may require an annual bench fee. Research projects undertaken within the Department of Clinical Sciences in the areas of Physiotherapy; Occupational Therapy; Health Sciences and Social Work may also require an annual bench fee. The amount is variable dependent on the requirements of the project and will be discussed and agreed between the applicant and the supervisor at interview stage. This amount will be additional to tuition fees and will be stated in the offer letter from Admissions
We offer a range of PhD studentships, partial scholarships, and academic prizes, to help with your research fees. Explore external funding, particularly the Research Councils, as well as other support.
Some courses incur additional course related costs. You can also check our on-campus accommodation costs for more information on living expenses.
Fees quoted are per year and are subject to an annual increase.