Research course

Culture and Evolution

Brunel University, London · Health and Life Sciences

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 will be required as part of the admissions process and will be conducted by at least two academic staff members remotely via MS Teams, Zoom, or face to face.

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.

Months of entry

January, April, October

Course content

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 includes 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.

Information for international students

English language requirements

  • IELTS: 7 (min 6 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 64 (59 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 68% (58% in all areas)
  • TOEFL: 98 overall (min 20)

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

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%.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    full time
    36 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    72 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
  • MPhil
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

+44 (0)1895 265599