Module Catalogue 2018/19

BIO1005 : Evolution

  • Offered for Year: 2018/19
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Emmi Hall
  • Lecturer: Dr Colin Tosh
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment

ACE1013 Introduction to Genetics desirable but not essential.


The study of biology arguably means little without an understanding of the process, causes and consequences of evolution: right from the evolution of the simplest life forms to the development of the human species. This module first reviews the evidence that evolution has taken place in the past and continues today, for instance by discussing the fossil record, classification, DNA comparisons and development. Various mechanisms of evolution are then discussed, including artificial and natural selection (as proposed by Charles Darwin), and random processes such as genetic drift. The ideas are persuasive, but how good is the evidence that these and other proposed mechanisms actually cause evolutionary changes?

This module aims to review the evidence for evolution from the fossil record, earth history, and comparisons of living organisms in terms of structure, function and genetic constitution; to outline mechanisms for evolution, especially in terms of artificial and natural selection and genetic drift; to explore the observational and experimental evidence for the role of these mechanisms in causing evolution.

Outline Of Syllabus

Fossil record, lineages
Earth history, mass extinctions
Evolution by selection and drift
Natural history and experiments
Ontogeny and phylogeny
Sexual selection
Kin selection
Speciation mechanisms
Adaptive radiation, rates of evolution
Human evolution
Cladistics and systematics
Molecular evolution and phylogeny
Eukaryote genome evolution
Plastid evolution

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

An understanding of evolutionary biology based upon conceptual understanding, as well as factual knowledge dealing with morphology, molecular genetics, ecology, biogeography and palaeobiology; an appreciation of the mechanisms of genetic drift, artificial, natural, kin and sexual selection, and of speciation; knowledge of case studies indicating the role of these processes in evolution, both past and present. This module provides the basis for BIO2008 Evolutionary and Population Genetics (which includes several relevant practicals), and a good background for BIO2002 Biodiversity and Conservation, BIO2007 Vertebrate Biology, BIO2006 Entomology and BIO2004 Plant Biology 2.

Intended Skill Outcomes

The ability to think about the operation of mechanisms of evolution to apply such concepts to all aspects of biology; to develop a constructively critical approach to hypothesis-testing and the qualities of scientific evidence.

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Assessed
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Numeracy : Present
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Present
      • Use Of Computer Applications : Present
  • Self Management
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Independence : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion41:004:004x in-class tests
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture141:0014:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion42:008:00Preparation for class tests
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:307:00Revision for final exam
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Final exam
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading421:0042:00Assessed as part of exam
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical12:002:00Practical
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study19:209:20Study of lectures, ReCap, Blackboard etc.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study140:5011:40Lecture follow up
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

As an introductory module with a strong conceptual basis, it is effectively delivered through lectures dealing with all the main issues. Students are steered towards readings centred on the Life textbook (Purves et al.), which has a strong evolutionary theme and is the core text for the introductory modules in Stage 1 of the three degree programmes delivered by the School of Biology. Students are expected to spend time using the Life website in order to benefit from support materials provided, including tests and animated tutorials.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
PC Examination1202A80N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Case study2M20Tests on set readings (2 x 10%)
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Case study2M2 formative tests on set readings
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

In the exam, fill-in-the-word and MCQ formats test for recall of key terminology, concepts and facts. Short answers require more depth to be displayed over a range of topics. Four small in course assessments introduce, practise and assess data interpretation and understanding of set reading. This involves homework calculations and literature searching. Students are also encouraged to read material and take self –assessment tests on the Life textbook companion website and similar websites, where appropriate.

To ensure that students have achieved a sufficient level of knowledge and skills, students are required to attain at least 30% in the exam in order to pass the module. For students failing to attain at least 30% in the exam, the module mark will be the exam mark without the inclusion of the in-course assessment marks.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2018/19 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2018/19 entry will be published here in early-April 2018. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.