BI3EG7-Evolutionary Genetics and Phylogeny

Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Pre-requisites: BI1EAD1 Introduction to Evolutionary Processes
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Louise Johnson


Type of module:

Summary module description:

BI3EG7: Evolutionary Genetics and Phylogeny

Students on this course will be introduced to ideas about the selfish genetic and adaptive forces that shape the evolution of genes and genomes. They will study topics and current controversies in evolution and phylogeny and apply their specialist knowledge and develop critical thinking skills. Practical work associated with the course will give students experience in constructing phylogenetic trees and, throughout the course, students will learn to interpret trees to answer questions about evolution.

Assessable learning outcomes:
•Knowledge of the evolutionary forces that shape genomes
•Knowledge of how phylogenetic trees have helped to understand fundamental questions of biological evolution
•Ability to interpret phylogenies
•Awareness of current controversies in the field

Additional outcomes:
Students will develop their presentation and communication skills, and gain experience in critical analysis of the peer-reviewed primary scientific literature.

Outline content:
This course will give an introduction to phylogenetics (what phylogenies are, how they are constructed, and what they are used for) and then move on to consider topics in evolutionary genetics, especially those that can be investigated using phylogenies. Topics covered include sequence analysis and methods of detecting natural selection, transposable elements and other genomic parasites, the evolution of the genetic code, the evolution of novelty, the evolution of cancer, the evolution of HIV and the evolution of non-genetic replicators including language.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The course is arranged around weekly lectures, each followed by a seminar, practical exercise or student-led seminar based on controversies in the recent peer-reviewed scientific literature. Students are encouraged to contribute to lectures via questions and answers. There is also a practical covering the basic concepts of phylogeny construction.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 8
Practicals classes and workshops 2
Guided independent study 80
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 75
Oral assessment and presentation 25

Summative assessment- Examinations:
Two hour paper

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Small group presentation on current controversies in evolution or genetics (25%).

Formative assessment methods:

Phylogeny construction practical

Discussion of contradictory papers, and paper "review" exercise, in both of which students will receive peer and lecturer feedback

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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