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What is Human Sciences?

By Anabel Riley

What is Human Sciences? A lot of people have no idea what a Human Sciences degree at Oxford entails. Some assume the course revolves around human biology, others guess that it is based on the social sciences. In reality, Human Sciences is both and more. Human Scientists study our species across time and space, through many different lenses.


Whether you are already interested in studying the course or it’s completely new to you and you’re curious, I hope this blog will help you learn more about the nature of Human Sciences and what it’s like to study it.


It is an incredibly interdisciplinary degree, combining subject areas like genetics and evolution with sociology and anthropology. Furthermore, in just the first year you can also expect to study physiology, quantitative methods, ecology, human geography and demography.


Because there are no defined subject requirements for those applying, everything is taught at a fairly approachable level to begin with. Even though it can get overwhelming at times, human scientists often love how the course encompasses so many different subject areas. It keeps studying fresh and exciting and you never run out of things to do! Ultimately, it is fascinating to discover how such seemingly distinct subjects are all inextricably linked. The course is really diverse, so you learn in many different ways and produce varying types of work. For instance, you can be set problem sheets for quantitative methods which comprise of mainly mathematical work, particularly statistics. On the other hand, you may be expected to complete an anthropology essay in which your work is qualitative, as opposed to quantitative. Essays can also be focused on the natural sciences, requiring a different style of writing, which could be for genetics, evolution or ecology for a start. By switching up your modes of thinking, you develop many different skills and learn how to attack different tasks.


Human Sciences is a small subject and it isn’t offered by many universities. At Oxford, the average cohort is around 30 people per year which means that it is easy to get to know other people on the course. This is a great way to be able to meet people at other colleges, especially because Human Scientists tend to be a friendly bunch! This is by no means an extensive description of Human Sciences but I hope this overview has provided some interesting information from a student’s perspective and that it has done the course justice!