Evolutionary Psychology Programs

May 3, 2023
39. Department of Psychology

Child playing with toys in the Child and Baby LabField worker making grooming observations

Course Content

The course runs for 12 months.

Compulsory modules

  • Principal Approaches to the Origins of Mind
  • Empirical Approaches to the Evolution of Communication
  • The Origins of Human Cognition
  • Methods of Data Analysis in Psychology

Optional modules

  • Evolution and Development of Social and Technical Intelligence
  • Origins of Evolution of Mind Reading (Theory of Mind)
  • Generic Research and Professional Skills in Psychology
  • Methodologies for Psychology and Neuroscience


  • Research Project (Dissertation)


"I chose the Evolutionary MSc at St. Andrews as I became very interested in Primate behaviour and cognition during my undergrad studies at UCL. I had also always wanted to experience field work, and St Andrews enabled me to conduct my summer research project at the Budongo Conservation Field Station, Uganda, supervised by Dr. Catherine Hobaiter and Prof. Klaus Zuberbühler. I spent three months recording wild chimpanzee vocalisations and had by far the best experience of my life! I am now starting a PhD at St Andrews with Dr. Gillian Brown looking at sex differences in social learning, as part of a collaborative project on cumulative cultural evolution with Prof. Andrew Whiten and Prof. Kevin Laland."

Charlotte Brand, 2012-2013

"Thanks to the University's strong links with Edinburgh Zoo, I was able to conduct my MSc research project with their group of chimpanzees, looking at tool use and cognition. This was the best preparation for my PhD I can imagine, as well as being a fantastic experience. The MSc allows you to study and conduct research alongside some of the biggest names in the field, which is really a unique opportunity. I'm now undertaking my PhD at St Andrews supervised by Prof. Andrew Whiten, and can't imagine a better place to research comparative psychology."

Rachel Harrison, 2012-2013

“During my undergraduate degree, I developed an interest in primatology, and in particular, great ape research - this led me to apply for the MSc at St Andrews. Whilst at St Andrews, under the supervision of Prof. Richard Byrne and Dr. Catherine Hobaiter, I studied the hand preferences of two captive populations of bonobos, located in the US and the UK. The MSc allowed me to not only explore my interests and travel - which in itself was an amazing experience - but the project enabled me to develop my own technical writing skills, and provided me with a broader understanding/knowledge of scientific research standards. The skills I gained from the MSc have created numerous career opportunities; I am fortunate to have recently been offered a position within academic journals publishing in a large publishing company, under their STM (Science, Technology & Medicine) journals list.”

Leah Webster, 2012-2013

"For my summer project I was able to work with Dave Perrett in The Perception Lab manipulating 3D faces to investigate attractiveness and dominance. This gave me experience in not only lab work but also working with human participants. As a result of one of the research proposals I wrote for the Evolution of Communication module, I am now completing a PhD in chimpanzee communication at Budongo Conservation Field Station, Uganda, supervised by Prof. Klaus Zuberbühler.

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Source: www.st-andrews.ac.uk
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