BI1EAD1-Introduction to Evolutionary Processes

Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Louise Johnson


Type of module:

Summary module description:

• To provide an overview of evolution that is accessible to first year students from diverse backgrounds.
• To describe evolutionary processes, emphasising the forces that cause and hinder change, and some of the major patterns that result.
• To introduce diverse approaches for the study of genetic and phenotypic evolution.
• To demonstrate how evolutionary perspective is fundamental and improves understanding of diverse areas of modern biology.
• To introduce students to the process of developing, testing and refining.

Assessable learning outcomes:
• Ability to interpret graphs and figures
• Simple calculations in population genetics
• Ability to interpret phylogenetic trees

Knowledge of the following topics:
• How natural selection drives biological evolution
• How adaptations arise and what limits their perfection
• Species concepts; how new species arise; patterns of extinction
• How to make and use phylogenies
• Selected aspects of the evolutionary history of life on earth
• Different methods used to study evolution.

Additional outcomes:
• Quantitative skills – basic population genetics calculations
• Data analysis skills – turning data into a phylogeny, basic interpretation of phylogenies

Outline content:
1 Explaining Biological Diversity; What Is Population Genetics (LJ)
2 Misconceptions about Evolution; Variation in Populations (LJ)
3 Adaptations; Natural Selection (LJ)
4 Maladaptations; Units of selection and conflicts between them (LJ)
5 Quantitative traits (LJ)
6 Phylogenies (LJ)
7 Symbiosis and coevolution (RW)
8 Sexual selection and sexual conflict (RW)
9 Species concepts and speciation (RW)
10 Case studies; Q&A session (RW, LJ)

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
There will be two 50 minute lectures each week, plus three workshop / practicals on problem-solving and data analysis. The Blackboard site will provide further reading and handouts for lectures and quizzes. There will also be optional drop-in tutorials.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Tutorials 4
Practicals classes and workshops 6
Guided independent study 170
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Class test administered by School 30

Summative assessment- Examinations:
One and a half hours

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

1) Online test based on content and skills learned in the population genetics and phylogenetics practicals (30%)

Formative assessment methods:

Population genetics problem-solving session in practical 1, answers can be discussed with peers and/or checked by staff or demonstrators

Tutored evolutionary and phylogenetic problem-solving sessions in practical 2, answers can be discussed with peers and/or checked by staff or demonstrators

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August/September only

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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