Sophie's pathway

Sophie's pathway to Graduate Student


Sophie during the Oxford-Gorongosa Paleo-Primate Project Field School on the Gorongosa National Park floodplain at sunset

I’ve always had quite eclectic interests, so in school I took History, Maths and Psychology for my A-Levels. I loved learning about cognition and behaviour, and knew that I wanted to study these at university. I attended a Masterclass in Psychology at the University of Cambridge, which gave me access to taster lectures. This was a really helpful experience for me as it confirmed my interest in research and helped to demystify the university experience. I ended up doing my undergraduate degree in Psychological and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, where half of the course had compulsory modules in Psychology and half were optional modules. I took an Introduction to Biological Anthropology course in my first year, although I’d actually never heard of Biological Anthropology before – I had just read the course synopsis and thought it sounded interesting. In the first term we also learned about Primatology, and I was introduced to studying chimpanzees as being a career path. I continued to select modules in Biological Anthropology for the rest of my undergraduate, and knew I wanted to continue on in academia in this area. I found the MSc in Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford, and ended up doing my dissertation on the ontogeny of chimpanzee nut-cracking behaviour. I was given the opportunity to attend the Paleo Primate Project Field School, which is an annual field school in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, open to students from Mozambican universities and Oxford. I am now a DPhil student in the Social Body Lab and Primate Models for Behavioural Evolution Lab. My pathway into academia has involved many people supporting me and providing guidance on next steps and opportunities. We hope that this Pathways Initiative will continue to help students considering a path, or who are just interested, in Primatology and human evolution. Please get in touch if you have any questions about these topics, or would like any advice on choosing or applying to a course: