Bongo Bongo
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Hi guys,

So I've applied for a masters in evolutionary psychology at brunel and want to see if anyone has any experience of this field? My background is in anthropology and I'm particularly interested in biological anthropology. What's it like to study psychology? A few modules i took had evolutionary psychology in them, mainly the ones dealing with human origins. Do you guys reckon the masters and undergrad have many similarities? I'd like to do a Phd in a related field eventually.
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iammichealjackson
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(Original post by Bongo Bongo)
Hi guys,

So I've applied for a masters in evolutionary psychology at brunel and want to see if anyone has any experience of this field? My background is in anthropology and I'm particularly interested in biological anthropology. What's it like to study psychology? A few modules i took had evolutionary psychology in them, mainly the ones dealing with human origins. Do you guys reckon the masters and undergrad have many similarities? I'd like to do a Phd in a related field eventually.
Evolutionary psychology is fairly different to biological anthropology, mostly in the sorts of questions that are asked. id recommend doing a masters which has a significant research component to it though - the taught ones aren't as good preparation for phd...
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Bongo Bongo
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(Original post by iammichealjackson)
Evolutionary psychology is fairly different to biological anthropology, mostly in the sorts of questions that are asked. id recommend doing a masters which has a significant research component to it though - the taught ones aren't as good preparation for phd...
Could you give me an example?
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Klix88
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(Original post by iammichealjackson)
id recommend doing a masters which has a significant research component to it though - the taught ones aren't as good preparation for phd...
Even a taught Masters has a one-third research component, in the form of the dissertation.

If people from taught Masters courses were disadvantaged when it came to PhD preparation, the number of doctoral candidates would be much lower. I can't think of any folks doing PhDs either at my uni or others, who did a research Masters.

In fact I know three people who did a research Masters confidently expecting to go on to a PhD and they all burnt out during the Masters. Two think of themselves as 'taking a break' and the other has sworn that they'll never go near academia again!
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iammichealjackson
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(Original post by Klix88)
Even a taught Masters has a one-third research component, in the form of the dissertation.

If people from taught Masters courses were disadvantaged when it came to PhD preparation, the number of doctoral candidates would be much lower. I can't think of any folks doing PhDs either at my uni or others, who did a research Masters.

In fact I know three people who did a research Masters confidently expecting to go on to a PhD and they all burnt out during the Masters. Two think of themselves as 'taking a break' and the other has sworn that they'll never go near academia again!
If they're tired from doing two/three terms of research then they won't be able to cut out doing it for 9 more terms in a PhD surely?

I was being a bit broad: there are probably some cases where doing taught components would be useful, especially if your trying to get into a very different field. For me personally though, I wouldn't pay 4-9K for just taught modules, lectures and seminars are not really worth £100+ for each one when you should be at the stage to be able to learn independently...




(Original post by Bongo Bongo)
Could you give me an example?
What exmaples of masters degrees or how evo psych is different from bio anth?
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Klix88
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(Original post by iammichealjackson)
If they're tired from doing two/three terms of research then they won't be able to cut out doing it for 9 more terms in a PhD surely?
Burnout isn't quite the same as being a bit tired.

I'm not saying that all research Masters degrees are putting people off research, just illustrating that it doesn't automatically make you any more prepared for a PhD than a taught Masters. In my experience, those I've known coming out of a taught Masters are more than ready for a PhD.

I was being a bit broad: there are probably some cases where doing taught components would be useful, especially if your trying to get into a very different field. For me personally though, I wouldn't pay 4-9K for just taught modules, lectures and seminars are not really worth £100+ for each one when you should be at the stage to be able to learn independently...
To contend that a taught Masters probably isn't worth the money because you will already be able to research independently, is actually still pretty broad of you.

And in any case, a research Masters isn't exactly independent either. Even a PhD isn't totally independent.
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Bongo Bongo
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(Original post by iammichealjackson)
If they're tired from doing two/three terms of research then they won't be able to cut out doing it for 9 more terms in a PhD surely?

I was being a bit broad: there are probably some cases where doing taught components would be useful, especially if your trying to get into a very different field. For me personally though, I wouldn't pay 4-9K for just taught modules, lectures and seminars are not really worth £100+ for each one when you should be at the stage to be able to learn independently...






What exmaples of masters degrees or how evo psych is different from bio anth?
How bio anthro is different to evo psych. I know that both will probably look at behaviour but what sort of different questions do they ask?
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iammichealjackson
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(Original post by Klix88)
Burnout isn't quite the same as being a bit tired.

I'm not saying that all research Masters degrees are putting people off research, just illustrating that it doesn't automatically make you any more prepared for a PhD than a taught Masters. In my experience, those I've known coming out of a taught Masters are more than ready for a PhD.


To contend that a taught Masters probably isn't worth the money because you will already be able to research independently, is actually still pretty broad of you.

And in any case, a research Masters isn't exactly independent either. Even a PhD isn't totally independent.
No, i just mean, for a lot of psychology you can just teach yourself the content really easily. You can't do the practical research for a PhD/MRes independently.

This might not be the case say if you want to learn fancy techniques such as functional brain imagine, or any biological methods which require lab time. The research component, however, you can't really do on your own.

I agree that doing 1 or 2 terms more work in an MRes compared to a MSc won't necssarily make you more prepared to do a PhD. A lot of it depends just on what you want to do, I personally prefer doing research than exams :P

(Original post by Bongo Bongo)
How bio anthro is different to evo psych. I know that both will probably look at behaviour but what sort of different questions do they ask?
Laland & Brown's second edition of sense and nonsense goes through thre differences. They are really fairly similar in lots of respects to the methods, but the topics they study tend to be quite different, and evo psych has a much worse reputation for poor quality research, although thats often because its harder to rigorously study the evolution of human social class than the human fossil record, for example.

Topics often studied by evo psych:
--HUMANS (rarely other animals, not always the case though).
--Human gender differences
--Social Class
--Sexual Attraction, mating strateies
--Parenting / Kinship

Topics often studied by bio anth:
--Primatology
--Paleontology ad primate evolution
--Survival, adaptation to different environments
--Non-industrialised human societies (hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, etc.)

Evo psych is fairly contraversial, and essentially it boils down to social scientists objecting to social phenomena (e.g. class, gender) being naturalised, and some biological scientists view evolutionary psychology as being too "adaptationist" (see http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.o...t/205/1161/581)

I would flick through textbooks on each topic to get a feel for the difference.
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Klix88
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(Original post by iammichealjackson)
I agree that doing 1 or 2 terms more work in an MRes compared to a MSc won't necssarily make you more prepared to do a PhD. A lot of it depends just on what you want to do, I personally prefer doing research than exams :P
I think you're mistaking a taught Masters for an extension of an undergrad degree. My taught Masters had one lab-based test. The rest of the assessment was based on long-format academic essays, specialist reports and the dissertation. Essentially, all research-based tasks.

Our course leader told us that at Masters level in my field, exams are not considered an appropriate test as they don't want to find out how much you know or how much you can repeat under pressure. What they're teaching you is how to research at a higher level and how to effectively communicate that research. The assessment is intended to find out how well you do that and where you might need further direction. Exams don't perform that function.

This approach prepares you very well for PhD research.
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Bongo Bongo
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(Original post by iammichealjackson)
No, i just mean, for a lot of psychology you can just teach yourself the content really easily. You can't do the practical research for a PhD/MRes independently.

This might not be the case say if you want to learn fancy techniques such as functional brain imagine, or any biological methods which require lab time. The research component, however, you can't really do on your own.

I agree that doing 1 or 2 terms more work in an MRes compared to a MSc won't necssarily make you more prepared to do a PhD. A lot of it depends just on what you want to do, I personally prefer doing research than exams :P



Laland & Brown's second edition of sense and nonsense goes through thre differences. They are really fairly similar in lots of respects to the methods, but the topics they study tend to be quite different, and evo psych has a much worse reputation for poor quality research, although thats often because its harder to rigorously study the evolution of human social class than the human fossil record, for example.

Topics often studied by evo psych:
--HUMANS (rarely other animals, not always the case though).
--Human gender differences
--Social Class
--Sexual Attraction, mating strateies
--Parenting / Kinship

Topics often studied by bio anth:
--Primatology
--Paleontology ad primate evolution
--Survival, adaptation to different environments
--Non-industrialised human societies (hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, etc.)

Evo psych is fairly contraversial, and essentially it boils down to social scientists objecting to social phenomena (e.g. class, gender) being naturalised, and some biological scientists view evolutionary psychology as being too "adaptationist" (see http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.o...t/205/1161/581)

I would flick through textbooks on each topic to get a feel for the difference.
Thanks for the link to the Laland and Brown book, looks really interesting, will definitely pick it up.

I didn't realise that things such as class would be studied in evolutionary psychology although I can imagine that trying to study the origins of class would be both very interesting while also very speculative. Would you say that when some (bio) scientists see evo psych as too adaptionist are they basically finding behaviours and labelling them as an adaptation when that may not be the case?

I find subjects that combine biology with the social sciences as really exciting and its always interesting to hear differing opinion. Do you know if there are many phd opportunities in this area?
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iammichealjackson
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(Original post by Bongo Bongo)
Thanks for the link to the Laland and Brown book, looks really interesting, will definitely pick it up.

I didn't realise that things such as class would be studied in evolutionary psychology although I can imagine that trying to study the origins of class would be both very interesting while also very speculative. Would you say that when some (bio) scientists see evo psych as too adaptionist are they basically finding behaviours and labelling them as an adaptation when that may not be the case?

I find subjects that combine biology with the social sciences as really exciting and its always interesting to hear differing opinion. Do you know if there are many phd opportunities in this area?
Probably quite a few. Just email a few people your interested in working with. Yes definately i think there is a fair bit of scepticism amongst a few behavioural ecologists (who tend to work in biology departments) against some evolutionary psychology theories. Especially because lots of people who do evo psych tend to have little biology/ modern evolutionary theory background- other than reading a few Richard Dawkin's books and other things from the 70s-80s.
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