Stockholm university
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Cultural evolution: theories and observations

This course aims at tearing down barriers between disciplines. We welcome students from the humanities as well as the social and natural sciences. The course introduces theory on cultural change from different subjects and shows how methods like computational modelling and experiments can be applied to understand human and social phenomena.

Image of a girl, tower buildings, equations and an orangutan.

The course gives an overview of patterns of cultural change and the diversity of theories and methods used in research on cultural evolution. You will analyse differences between humans and other animals and what lies behind the emergence of cultural complexity and diversity. You will learn about how mathematics can be an important tool for theoretical work and how to formalise ideas to generate testable hypotheses. You will also learn about the benefits of interdisciplinary interactions in terms of utilizing knowledge from different disciplines. You will be encouraged to contribute with knowledge from your own field. You will meet fellow students and active researchers from the humanities, social and natural sciences, which is beneficial for future research cooperation across disciplines.

  • Course structure

    The course runs at 50% time in the evening during the first half of the spring term.

    Teaching format

    The course is built up by lectures, seminars, computer labs and exercises. Activities will be scheduled two to three evenings a week. Activities are led by the team of teachers that covers a wide range of subjects in the humanities, social and natural sciences, including cultural evolution, sociology, linguistics, psychology, history of ideas, archaeology, mathematics and biology.

    Learning outcomes

    A list of the learning outcomes can be found in the syllabus. Please find the link to the syllabus on the right side of this page.


    Assessment will be based on class participation and a written exam.


    Johan Lind


    Tel: +46 8 16 2747

  • Schedule

    The schedule will be available no later than one month before the start of the course. We do not recommend print-outs as changes can occur. At the start of the course, your department will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.
  • Course literature

    Note that the course literature can be changed up to two months before the start of the course.

    No mandatory course book.

  • Course reports

  • Contact

    Student office
    Study counsellor for advanced level