Anthropology was introduced to the University of Sri Jayewardenepura as a degree discipline in the 1960’s under the auspicious guidance of the eminent scholar Dr. P. E. P. Deraniyagala. Later vast stridden were experienced with the effort of Dr. Allex Gunasekara and the late Prof. Nandasena Rathnapala and it was a combination of both sociology and Anthropology. Throughout this time span of about 40 years, this subject and the necessary human resources have been developed and expanded under the department of sociology and anthropology. Subsequently, when the unit system was introduced in the year 2000 anthropology became an autonomous discipline in the special and general degree programmes. From then onwards we have been produced more than 150 graduates where obtained Anthropology special degree and also more than 1000 graduates who had general degree including the subject of anthropology. Apart from graduate, we produced more than 50 postgraduate holders introducing a doctoral degree in anthropology. This department conducts lecture and research in sociology and criminology as well.

We teach and conduct research in physical and cultural anthropology. Although few universities teach cultural anthropology the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in the one and only Sri Lankan university that offers a special degree in programme consist of cultural as well as physical anthropology.