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Unit information: Evolutionary Biology in 2021/22

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Evolutionary Biology
Unit code BIOL20212
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1B (weeks 7 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Jones
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Biological Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

Understanding evolution by natural selection is central to all aspects of biology, and evolution is one of the key intellectual pursuits in science. This course will cover the origin of life, patterns in the history of life, and the evolution of biological diversity. We will describe studies from palaeontology, biogeography through to molecular genetics. Topics include: mutation, selection and adaptation, the origin of life, the evolution of eukaryotes, the evolution of sex, patterns in the history of life, population genetics, genome evolution, the nature of species, speciation, adaptive radiation, microevolution in action, phylogeny and classification, evolutionary biogeography, patterns in the evolution of biological diversity, evolution of the human condition and molecular approaches to understanding evolution.


The aims of the unit are to ask interesting questions about evolution, to evaluate the evidence that evolution is a fact, and to read and critically evaluate papers from the primary literature about evolution.

Intended Learning Outcomes

You should be able to evaluate the evidence that evolution is a fact, and to read and critically evaluate papers from the primary literature about evolution.

Teaching Information

Lectures, directed reading, research and/or problem-solving activities; practical exercises and independent study.

Assessment Information

Coursework (40%) plus summative written assessment (60%) with one essay question to be selected from a choice of two.


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How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.