3.1.1 The Body

Home Education For Teachers Teaching Resources 3.1.1 The Body

The RAI’s Education Department has compiled the following list of multimedia resources to support teaching and learning of the Anthropology A-level.  Wherever possible we have selected free resources. Sections of the curriculum specification as set out by AQA for 2012-2013 have been included for reference purposes. To access the full A-level specification please visit the AQA website.  We are continually adding new resources to these pages. If you are a teacher and have any recommendations on films, books, websites or articles, please get in touch with Emma Fordat education@therai.org.uk


The human body as a product of evolution and natural selection, including similarities and differences between humans and our primate ancestors as a way of understanding the impact of our origins on contemporary human behaviour and practices. (AQA A-level Specification 2013, p.5)

There are many free wonderful resources produced by the institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Welcome Trust, the Natural History Museum and others on human evolution.  Below is a selection of diverse range of resources suitable for secondary school.




Release: 2005
Length: 100 minutes
Laguage: English
Produced by Lion Television for the History Channel

Ape to Man is the story of the quest to find the origins of the human race. Although life has existed for millions of years, only in the past century and a half have we begun to use science to explore the ancestral roots of our own species. Through reanactments and interviews with leading scientists, the documentary traces the search for the ‘missing link’ in evolution and understanding of the key elements that separate humans from apes.




NOVA: Becoming Human Unearthing Our Earliest Ancestors
Release: 2019
Language: English
Length: 150 minutes (three 50 minute parts)
Produced by Shining Red Productions for NOVA

Where did we come from? What makes us human? An explosion of recent discoveries sheds light on these questions, and NOVA’s comprehensive, three-part special, “Becoming Human,” examines what the latest scientific research reveals about our hominid relatives.



Release: 2008
Language: English but transcripts are available in Spanish, Chinese, Sinhala and Italian
Produced by the Institute of Human Origins

Becoming Human is an interactive documentary experience that tells the story of our origins. Donald Johanson guides the viewer through four million years of human evolution. Exhibitions, 360 degree graphics an interactive timeline and more make this a fantastic resource. The site also has additional teaching resources links and information. http://www.becominghuman.org/node/interactive-documentary


BBC ‘Journey of Life – Human Life’ the final part of this series looks at human evolution.  in 10 minute intervals on YouTube, and make useful short clips to use in the classroom.

Part1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qzj7ei5G27E

Part2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxE-MwtkugY&feature=relmfu

Part3 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0APRgZyQTFw&feature=relmfu

Part4 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5kQMM0OXFI&feature=relmfu

Part5 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiqKuCDhVe4&feature=relmfu

Part6 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWn1vxuV9IQ&feature=relmfu



Our human ancestors and their relatives – in pictures from The Guardian



What does it mean to be human? – this is a fantastic resource with extensive material including videos, photography, articles and lesson plans. Produced by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History,  the website is associated with objects found in the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins. 

Becoming Human– Run by the Institute of Human Origins (IHO), this great website combines scholarship, research and interactive multimedia to promote understanding of human evolution.

Natural History Museum’s Human Evolution website has a wealth of information on human evolution and includes interactive 3D features and Augmented Reality (AR) projections.

‘The Evolution of Man’ under BBC’s Science & Nature: Prehistoric Life tells the story of human evolution in short six-part summaries and provides links to other BBC and educational materials.

NOVA’s Evolution Website – supported by PBS it has interactive timelines, films, podcasts and more.



The anthropology outreach office at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, produces a bi-annual collection of accessible essays called AnthroNotes. The collections are free and open access and cover a wide-range of topics from human evolution to body modification.  Below are selected AnthroNotes that relate to human evolution.

AnthroNotes Spring 2010 (Vol31/1)

AnthroNotes Fall 2008 (Vol 29/2)

The Untold Story of Human Evolution– In this article, Tim Radford explores the stories, theories and discoveries that have tried to tell the story of human evolution for The Guardian.

Friends to count on– In this article, evolutionary anthropologist Dr.Robin Dunbar, explores the link between human evolution and communities and argues that the perfect number for a human social group is 150.




The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal
Diamond, J. (Harper Perennial,1992)

The Human Story: A New History of Mankind’s Evolution
Dunbar, R. (Faber and Faber, 2005)

Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human
Wrangham, R  (Profile Books, 2010)

Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body
Shubin, N. (Pantheon, 2008)

Teaching slides for each chapter of the book: http://tiktaalik.uchicago.edu/book-tools.html

Film about your inner fish http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4c8L3vUH6Y



The following lesson plans are useful for teaching students about human evolution and testing their knowledge.






The biological and socio-cultural significance of the concept of race, including critiques of this concept.


The Story of Race: A History – this film is produced by the American Anthropological Association in conjunction with their Race are we so different project. The film provides an overview of how prevailing ideas in science, government and culture intersected throughout history to shape how people view the concept of race today.

RACE- The Power of Illusion
Release: 2003
Length: 3 episodes 56 minutes each
Produced by: California Newsreel for PBS

An eye-opening three-part series confronting our myths and misconceptions about race through the distinct lenses of science, history and social institutions.



The anthropology outreach office at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, produces a bi-annual collection of accessible essays called AnthroNotes. The collections are free and open access and cover a wide-range of topics from human evolution to body modification.  Below are selected AnthroNotes that relate to race and ethnicity.

Spring 2011 (vol. 32/1)

The myth of ‘race’ was invented by racism, and racism keeps it growing– this is a very pertinent article which analyses recent incidents in football to criticise our continued use of the word ‘race’ to tackle ‘racism’. Written by Deborah Orr for The Guardian

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/uk/2002/race/ – BBC News Online takes an in depth look at race in Britain in the 21st century with a major survey, features and analysis.

http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=398016§ion=3.2– a good article about the social construction of ‘race’ produced by the Open University

http://www.aaanet.org/issues/policy-advocacy/AAA-Statement-on-Race.cfm – the American Anthropological Association’s Statement on Race

http://www.archive.org/stream/racehistory00levi/racehistory00levi_djvu.txt – the full text of Claude Levi-Strauss’ article Race and History (Race et Histoire) published in 1952 by UNESCO





Ways of controlling and modifying the body, and analysis of these, including Mauss’s techniques of the body, Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, sexual selection and conforming to social norms.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m-4qxz08So – Chris Rock’s documentary on hair
Good Hair is a 2009 American comedy documentary film produced by Chris Rock Productions and HBO Films, starring and narrated by comedian Chris Rock.[2][3] Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2009, Good Hair was released to select theaters in the United States by Roadside Attractions on October 9, 2009, opening across the country on October 23. The film focuses on African American women’s hair, including the styling industry surrounding it, the acceptable look of African American women’s hair in society, and the effects of both upon African American culture.[3]

Body art and Tattoos in this edition of anthro notes http://anthropology.si.edu/outreach/anthnote/Winter01/anthnote.html
 Body Art as Visual Language, by Enid Schildkrout
 Teacher’s Corner: Body Art
 Tattooed Beauty: A Pacific Case Study, by Adrienne L. Kaeppler

Director: Kim Longinotto
Country/Production: UK
Release: 2002
Length: 92 mins
Location: Kenya / Africa
Ethnic Group: African

The documentary explores the local dimensions of the female circumcision debate in Kenyan societies. In a region of Kenya that is home to Muslims, Massai and Somali and crosscut by Christian evangelists, recently passed legislation makes it illegal for a girl to be circumcised without first consenting to the procedure. The film begins with Fardhosa a nurse on a tireless campaign to open people’s eyes to the dangers of circumcision, both physical and mental. Next, Simalo, a Maasai runaway girl returns from Nairobi to confront her mother, who was responsible for her mutilation and young marriage. Finally the film shows how a group of Marakwet schoolgirls have successfully challenged their parents and centuries-old tradition in a court of law.