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Find out about the research we do in Culture and Evolution

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Culture and Evolution PhD

PhD topics

Find a supervisor

Start date

January

October

April

Mode of study

3 years full-time

6 years part-time

Fees

2020/21

UK £4,407

International £15,860

2021/22

UK £4,407

International £16,335

Entry requirements

2:1

MPhil option available
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Research profile

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 behavioural 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)

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)

Find out about the exciting research we do in this area. Browse profiles of our experts, discover the research groups and their inspirational research activities you too could be part of. We’ve also made available extensive reading materials published by our academics and PhD students.  

Learn more about research in this area.

You can explore our campus and facilities for yourself by taking our virtual tour.

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Find a supervisor

Our researchers create knowledge and advance understanding, and equip versatile doctoral researchers with the confidence to apply what they have learnt for the benefit of society. Find out more about working with the Supervisory Team.

You are welcome to approach your potential supervisor directly to discuss your research interests. Search for expert supervisors for your chosen field of research.

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Research journey

This course can be studied 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time, starting in January. Or this course can be studied 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time, starting in October. Or this course can be studied 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time, starting in April.

Find out about what progress might look like at each stage of study here: Research degree progress structure.

PhD topics

While we welcome applications from student with a clear direction for their research, we can also provide you with some ideas. Search for PhD topics for your chosen field of research.

The programme specification is in the process of being updated and may not be an accurate reflection of the programme.

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Research support

Excellent research support and training

The Graduate School provides a range of personal, professional and career development opportunities. This includes workshops, online training, coaching and events, to enable you to enhance your professional profile, refine your skills, and plan your next career steps as part of the Researcher Development Programme.

Find our more: Study environment for research students

Library services

Brunel's Library is open 24 hours a day, has 400,000 books and 250,000 ebooks, and an annual budget of almost £2m. Subject information Specialists train students in the latest technology, digital literacy, and digital dissemination of scholarly outputs.

The Library services boast:

  • 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

Find out more: Brunel Library

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Careers and your future

Tailored careers support is offered to all our current PhD students and for up to 3 years after you complete your research at Brunel. We help you to actively engage in career planning and managing your personal development right from the start of your research. Our careers provision includes online advice, one to one consultations and a range of events and workshops.

In addition, where available, you may be able to undertake some paid work as we recognise that teaching and learning support duties represent an important professional and career development opportunity.

Find out more.

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 biopharmaceutical 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.
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UK entry requirements

The general University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (1st or 2:1). 

An interview may be required as part of the admissions process, and if so it would be conducted by one of the academic staff members remotely via Skype, phone or other means. 

Applicants will be required to submit a personal statement and a research statement.
Please contact your proposed supervisor, where possible, to receive feedback and guidance on your research statement before submitting it. Learn how to prepare a research statement here.  

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EU and International entry requirements

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.

English language requirements

  • IELTS: 7 (min 6 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 64 (51 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 70% (min 60% in all areas)
  • TOEFL: 100 (min 20)

You can find out more about the qualifications we accept on our English Language Requirements page.

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 through our Brunel Language Centre.

Please check our Admissions pages for more information on other factors we use to assess applicants. This information is for guidance only and each application is assessed on a case-by-case basis. Entry requirements are subject to review, and may change.

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Fees and funding

2020/21 entry

UK

£4,407 full-time

£2,203 part-time

International

£15,860 full-time

£7,930 part-time

2021/22 entry

UK

£4,407 full-time

£2,203 part-time

International

£16,335 full-time

£8,165 part-time

UK fees are subject to change in January 2021 following an announcement by the UK Research and Innovation.

Fees for EU applicants- For entry in 2021/22 academic year, eligible EU applicants will have the same tuition fees as UK students to support EU students during this transition period. These fees will be applied for the duration of the course. EU fees for 2022 entry are not yet confirmed.

Fees quoted are per year and are subject to an annual increase.

Some courses incur additional course related costs. You can also check our on-campus accommodation costs for more information on living expenses.

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. Recently the UK Government made available the Doctoral Student Loans of up to £25,000 for UK and EU students and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.