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MSci Genetics / Course details
Year of entry: 2023
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Course unit details:
Fundamentals of Evolutionary Biology
|Unit level||Level 2|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 2|
|Offered by||School of Biological Sciences|
|Available as a free choice unit?||No|
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.
|Unit title||Unit code||Requirement type||Description|
|Genes, Evolution and Development||BIOL10521||Pre-Requisite||Compulsory|
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.
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
- 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)
- Analytical skills
- Quantitative reasoning
- Problem solving
- Ability to analyse and solve basic problems in evolutionary biology
- Ability to understand research approaches in evolutionary biology
Written examination1 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.
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.
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Assessment written exam||1.3|
|Independent study hours|
|David Gerrard||Unit coordinator|