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Unit information: Early Human Origins in 2016/17

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Unit name Early Human Origins
Unit code ARCHM1000
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Robson Brown
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Anthropology and Archaeology
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The course covers the breadth of human evolutionary development from the emergence of the Hominidae to the cladogenesis of Homo sapiens sensu stricto. The course aims to provide students with a comprehensive background in human evolutionary anatomy, the hominid taxonomic and phylogenetic framework, and Palaeolithic archaeology, all placed in environmental and geochronological context. Equal emphasis in teaching is given to both evolutionary skeletal morphology and the reconstruction of archaeological behaviours.

Intended learning outcomes

Specific learning objectives of the unit: At the end of this unit you should be able to: Define the term ‘Primate’, describe the structure of primate phylogeny, and explain how humans fit into this phylogenetic framework. Explain the role of studies of modern primate social structures and anatomy in the interpretation of human evolution. Discuss the major categories of palaeoanthropological investigative procedure. Summarise the key stages in the pattern of human evolution, both in terms of anatomical changes and cultural/behavioural changes, as they are currently understood. Summarise the geographical location of major sites and finds, and name them. Describe the main developments in the history of the science of human evolution, and be able to assess the contribution of key scientists.

Teaching details

1x 2hr lecture per week and 1 x 1 hr seminar per week

Assessment Details

100% 2hr written exam

Reading and References

Boyd, R & Silk J. (2003). How humans evolved . New York ; London.

DeSalle, R and Tattersall, I. (2008). Human Origins: What bones and genomes tell us about ourselves. College Station: Texas A&M University Press.

Lewin, R and Foley, R. (2005). Principles of Human Evolution. Oxford: Blackwell.

Scarre, CJ ed (2005). The Human Past: World Prehistory and the Development of Human Societies. London: Thames and Hudson.