BSc Zoology with Industrial/Professional Experience / Course details

Year of entry: 2019

Course unit details:
Fundamentals of Evolutionary Biology

Unit code BIOL21232
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

Fundamentals of Evolutionary Biology aims to provide a deep understanding of the mechanisms that underlie the evolution of biological systems. By blending classical theory with cutting-edge examples, this unit will demonstrate how microevolutionary processes lead to the macroevolutionary patterns of life on earth. Fundamental evolutionary concepts and techniques will be used to explain some of the greatest mysteries of life on earth, such as the evolution of sexual reproduction and the origin of modern humans.

Pre/co-requisites

Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Genes, Evolution and Development BIOL10521 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
BIOL21232 Pre-/Co-requisites are BIOL10521

Aims

This unit aims to provide a deep understanding of the mechanisms that underlie the evolution of biological systems. By blending classical theory with cutting-edge examples, this unit will demonstrate how microevolutionary processes lead to the macroevolutionary patterns of life on earth. Fundamental evolutionary concepts and techniques will be used to explain some of the greatest mysteries of life on earth, such as the evolution of sexual reproduction and the origin of modern humans.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  • Understand the theoretical basis behind how the forces governing evolution (e.g. mutation, natural selection) work to cause heritable change in natural populations
  • Understand the principles and techniques needed to infer phylogenetic relationships among populations and species
  • Understand how the processes of speciation and extinction work to create patterns of biodiversity over space and time
  • Appreciate how evolutionary forces act to create complex biological systems
  • Apply evolutionary concepts to understand the evolution of modern humans

Syllabus

  • Evolutionary Forces (mutation, natural selection, genetic drift, migration and non-random mating)
  • Phylogenetics and Phlyogeography (concepts and methods to build phylogenetic trees, using phylogenies to study relationships among taxa, geographic patterns of biodiversity)
  • Speciation and Macroevolution (mechanisms of speciation, rates of speciation and extinction over time, adaptive radiations)
  • Co-evolution and the Evolution of Sex (host-parasite evolution, evolution of virulence, the cost of sexual reproduction, hypotheses for the advantages of sex, why is there a 1:1 sex ratio?)
  • Comparative anatomy (homology and modification of form)
  • Human Evolution (origin of modern humans, relationships with Neanderthals, global migration patterns)

 

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Quantitative reasoning
Problem solving
Ability to analyse and solve basic problems in evolutionary biology
Research
Ability to understand research approaches in evolutionary biology

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 1%
Written exam 90%
Set exercise 10%

Written examination

1 hour 30 minutes written examination (90%) consisting of two sections: (A) five compulsory short answer questions and (B) one essay from a choice of five titles.

Set exercise - Online formative assessment. (10%). Multiple choice questions in weeks 6 and 12 based on lecture content.

 

Feedback methods

Provided via (i) assessed mid-unit online assessed exercises, (ii) an online discussion forum for students and lecturers, and (iii) an end-of-unit review session with students and lecturers.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.3
Lectures 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 76.7

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
David Gerrard Unit coordinator

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