Go to main contentGo to main menuFormulario de contactoLa UAM

Facultad de CienciasLogo lazo negro Facultad Ciencias

Print >< Back


Master's Degree in Physical Anthropology: Human Evolution and Biodiversity

Máster en Antropología Física

The human species, “is the highest and most interesting problem for the naturalist "
(Letter of Darwin to Wallace, December 22, 1857)

“Culture is the ecological niche which man occupies”
(Wolpoff, 1971)

Physical Anthropology is an area of knowledge within the Biological Sciences which studies the origin of our species and human biological diversity. Biological Anthropology provides an integral view of the mechanisms which generate biological variability in human populations with regard to their evolutionary, ecological, ontogenetic and gender aspects, a view which also makes it possible to evaluate the biological consequences of recent environmental changes (including those related to systems of values, lifestyles and conduct) in the biological processes and the patterns of health and disease in human populations.

Physical Anthropology is recognised as an area of knowledge by an agreement of the Academic Commission of the Board of Universities on April 3, 2000. As a new area of knowledge, Physical Anthropology received code number 028. In the scientific classifications of the UNESCO, Physical Anthropology is a scientific area with identification code number 2402.

The Degree brings together the teaching and research staff of the three Departments of the State Universities of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, where teaching and research are done in the Area of Physical Anthropology,  these are  the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and the Universidad de Alcalá, with the participation of researchers, professionals and Spanish and foreign guest lecturers.

Three years’ teaching in its first instruction structure (Academic Years 2007/08, 2008/09 and 2009/10) have made it possible to verify the interest this Degree arouses.

During the first three sessions, the Degree doubled registrations with twenty students registered in the 2008/09 and 2009/10 academic years, has caught the interest of Spanish and foreign students, with a broad range of previous academic training and professional commitments, in the biological, bio-sanitary, medical, environmental and social science areas.

With a rate of participation of 89%, the evaluation of the students in the first promotion of the Degree (Academic Year 2007/08), expressed through the official survey made at the UAM and included in the report on the results concerning satisfaction with the Master, placed this above the average of the UAM and its Centre as regards general satisfaction levels for the group of subjects, with 3.63 and 3.93 points respectively (with scoring from 1 to 5).

100% of students in the first two promotions finalised the studies.


The main objective of Physical Anthropology  an area of knowledge is to provide a comprehensive view of the mechanisms which generate biological variability in human populations from the evolutionary, ecological, ontogenetic and gender perspectives, evaluating the consequences for biological processes and the patterns of health and disease in individuals deriving from environmental and social change. Thus, the Master is specifically intended to provide graduates and professionals with updated, high quality, integral, professional training on human biological diversity and its causes, which is up to date and of a high quality.

The new Teaching Structure of the Master, checked by ANECA (National Agency for Quality Evaluation and Accreditation) and the Board of Universities in 2009, provides continual updating of the knowledge and competences which make it possible to know the past of human populations, to identify the main problems of current societies and to propose solutions, in relation to the biological and cultural mechanisms which generate human biodiversity and interaction. It is intended

  • To provide theoretical knowledge which facilitates the following:
    • The application of the cross-curricular studies of the key aspects of Physical Anthropology in order to understand the genetic and environmental factors involved in human diversity, in the history of man, and its application to bio-sanitary and educational sciences.
    • The application of protection for men and women in sensitive periods in their life cycles (infancy, adolescence, reproduction stage, old age, etc.) from an evolutionary, ecological and gender perspective.
  • The provision of practical training which gives the students of the degree a sound preparation for research and professional work.

The specific objectives of the Master are as follows:

  • To train experts capable of understanding and interpreting the biology of human populations and the patterns of health and disease within the context of the evolutionary processes, of the recent biological history of peoples and individual adjustment to the environment through the ontogenetic processes.
  • To train experts capable of understanding and interpreting the potential for growth of a species through the analysis of the reproduction processes and differential mortality, of nutritional necessities depending on the sex, age and daily activity, as well as of the patterns of health and disease from a gender perspective.

Through a sound development of practical, laboratory and field methods, and through statistical and advanced computer resources, to capacitate the student for the analysis of population data in the following areas:

  • Forensic Anthropology, Bioarchaeology, Biohistory and Museum Studies;
  • Anthropometry and quality of life: growth, maturity and ageing, ergonomics, sport:
  • Anthropogenetics, Genetics of Human Populations and Genetic Epidemiology.
  • Analysis of population databases with bio-sanitary applications from several perspectives, including gender.

The Description of Each Individual Course includes the following:

  • Information on the lecturers.
  • Descriptors.
  • Theoretical and practical syllabus.
  • Bibliography and sources.
  • Specific learning objectives: specific competences and specific results.
  • Teaching methodology: learning activities and their evaluation in ECTS credits.
  • Criteria and methods of evaluation.
  • Its obligatory nature.
  • Learning resources.- Language(s) in which teaching is done.

Access Profile and Tutorial Plan of Action

The Master in “Physical Anthropology: Human Evolution and Biodiversity”
can be taken by those persons with higher studies interested in scientific and/or professional training in Physical Anthropology, with previous training or professional experience in bio-sanitary disciplines (Biology, Food Science and Technology, Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, etc.) and fields related to Physical Anthropology (specific areas of Social Sciences — Archaeology, Cultural Anthropology, among others —, Biotechnology, Physical Activity and Sports Sciences, etc.). The authority in charge of determining the admission of students is the Interuniversity Teaching Coordination Commission of the Master (CCDI).

The degree has Tutorial Plan of Action whose objectives are to provide the student with information and advice in relation to the following points:

  • Administrative steps for admission to the degree and student grants.
  • Academic Rules and Implementation of the European Higher Education Area. Adaptation to the installations of the three Universities where teaching is done and access to their services.
  • Content of the Syllabus and its structuring in several phases.
  • Choice of subjects, study methodology and guidance concerning the system of evaluation in each subject.
  • Continual academic support and monitoring.

Competences and Occupational Opportunities

In the last 20 years, Physical Anthropology has developed rapidly and significantly, extending its traditional interests and incorporating sophisticated techniques for biological variability in human populations. This has enabled the expansion of job opportunities. The Specialist in Physical Anthropology will cover the following professional requirements demanded by society, both as regards basic knowledge and the educational and social promotion of collective and institutional patterns:

  • Experts in Anthropometry applied to studies of growth and development, senile involution, nutrition and corporal composition, in Anthropology of Sport and Ergonomics.
  • Researchers and experts capable of evaluating the singularity of development and other human biological processes, qualified to diagnose and make recommendations for solutions regarding imbalances concerning nutrition, health and quality of life associated to gender or other potentially dicriminatory factors (socio-economic, origin, image, incapacity, etc.).
  • Researchers in evolution, specialised in the analysis of fossil remains of homo sapiens and his ancestors within a time and geographical dimension, in the ecological origin of the biological and cultural diversity of human populations, and in the causes and evolution of human genetic diversity.
  • Experts in Forensic Anthropology, specialised in studies on identification and individual recognition, having recourse to a wide range of techniques (from osteological to those related to molecular identification), with a view to draft technical population reports in order to carry out tasks involving training and advice for experts in Human Rights, members of NGOs and domestic and international associations and institutions.
  • Experts in the study and reconstruction of the Biohistory of human populations in the past, their daily lives and ecological and social factors, their health and disease patterns, the gender differences in past populations, based on the analysis of bone and archaeological remains. Advisors in archaeological and museum study excavations.
  • Experts in the analysis of population data and advice for domestic and international public and private organisms which require reports on bio-demography, on the bio-sociology of pregnancy and birth, on the evaluation of growth, development, ageing and specific aspects of health, gender differences regarding access to and the treatment of certain diseases, and the differential expression of biological processes.
  • Experts and advisers on the ethical aspects of research with human populations and in the social training and defence of equalitarian values among populations and social groups, minorities and gender, in the institutional, private (NGO’s and companies), education areas and in the media.
  • An evaluation of the situation of the students of the first promotion of the Master and its professional and scientific forecasts show that the totality consider that their personal situations, in the employment and scientific-research areas, including the drafting of a Doctoral. ThesisTheses, have been modified as a result of having studied the Master.

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid © 2008 · Ciudad Universitaria de Cantoblanco · 28049 Madrid · Tel.: +34 91 497 51 00 · e-mail: informacion.general@uam.es.