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Unit information: Evolutionary Biology in 2016/17

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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
Pre-requisites

None.

We recommend that students should normally have 120 cps of appropriate L1 units or BIOL 11000 or BIOL 12000 or A level Biology. One practical requires knowledge of how to use SPSS statistical analyses, though only basic functions will be used and instructions are provided.

Co-requisites

None

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

Description

Understanding evolution by natural selection is central to all aspects of biology, and is one of the key intellectual pursuits in science. This unit will cover material on 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, the nature of species, speciation, adaptive radiation, microevolution in action, phylogeny and classification, evolutionary biogeography, evolution of the human condition (e.g. Darwinian medicine) and molecular approaches to understanding evolution. Practicals will be computer-based and will include (1) quantitative analysis of natural selection on bill morphology in Darwin's finches, (2) an analysis of factors influencing survival during mass extinction events . 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. By the end of the course you should be able to think about biological problems as adaptive processes. Continuous assessment (40%) will consist of practical marks. You will complete the practicals in your own time, after being given an introductory class.

Aim:

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 details

3 x 1 hour weekly lectures (weeks 7-11)

Optional clinics will be arranged twice weekly to assist with queries from the first coursework exercise during the time available for completing the exercises Self-directed learning week (week 12). Students are expected to spend this time on directed reading.

Assessment Details

Attendance at practicals and completion of specified practical reports is mandatory.

Continuous assessment (40%) will consist of coursework marks detailed above. You will complete the practicals in your own time, after being given an introductory class. End of Year exam (60%).

Reading and References

Recommended text books: one of the following - FREEMAN, S. & HERRON, J.C. Evolutionary Analysis (2007)

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