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BSc Psychology / Course details
Year of entry: 2022
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Course unit details:
Evolution of Behaviour and Cognition
|Unit level||Level 2|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 1|
|Offered by||Division of Psychology and Mental Health|
|Available as a free choice unit?||No|
In the course, students will first be introduced to basic principles of evolution, including an overview of its history. The course will present basic evolutionary principles, including genetics, gene-environment interaction, and mechanisms of evolutionary change. There will be an emphasis on fallacies and mistaken applications of the principles of evolution. Further background will be given about the evolution of our species to make it relevant for psychology students. These evolutionary principles will be applied to key topics in human traits such as altruism, aggression and mate choice and the cognitive mechanisms that underlie these. Comparison with other species, notably nonhuman primates, will be made to highlight evolutionary processes in general and the phylogeny of traits in humans. Topical issues will be discussed to highlight that the study of the evolution of behaviour is a timely, and often controversial, subject.
This unit aims to:
To provide students with a background in evolutionary processes and analysis. To provide an understanding of evolution that can be a basis for future courses. To give a broad overview of comparative approaches to studying cognition. To introduce different evolutionary perspectives, including behavioural ecology and evolutionary psychology. To think about how cognitive traits – particularly in humans – can evolve
Teaching and learning methods
This unit will be taught via lectures and seminars.
Knowledge and understanding
Describe: the governing principles of evolution theory; basic genetic principles involved in natural selection; the mechanisms of evolutionary change; the governing principles of gene-environment interaction including gene-culture co-evolution, the origins of Homo sapiens
Critically evaluate: fallacies and misconceptions in evolutionary psychology; comparative evolutionary approaches in non-human primates; evolutionary approaches to studying altruism and other social behaviours, sociobiology and evolutionary psychology studies
Critically evaluate human cognition and behaviour in the light of evolution theory; critically evaluate comparative evolutionary research with reference to methodological considerations
Apply evolutionary theory and research evidence to questions about human cognition and behaviour; Appraise research findings and discuss them with others in a small group context
Transferable skills and personal qualities
Communicate complex ideas both orally and in writing; think critically about the validity of competing theoretical perspectives
Exam worth 90% and Blackboard Quizzes worth 10%
Students will recieve a grade as well as written feedback for the exam and cohort level feedback for the quizzes.
Workman, L. & Reader, W. (2014). Evolutionary Psychology, 3rd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
|Independent study hours|
|Keith Jensen||Unit coordinator|