Module Catalogue 2016/17

BIO2008 : Evolutionary and Population Genetics

  • Offered for Year: 2016/17
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Kirsten Wolff
  • Owning School: Biology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
Pre Requisites
Code Title
ACE1013Introduction to Genetics
BIO2020Experimental Design and Statistics for Biologists
Pre Requisite Comment

Equivalent modules acceptable.

Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



To provide a sound basis to the understanding of the principles of, and experimental procedures involved in the science of evolutionary processes at the population level and basic population genetics.
To introduce and expand on theories such as adaptation by natural selection and mechanisms of speciation.
To build on the introductory knowledge of numerical and statistical analyses.

Outline Of Syllabus

Students will be provided with a sound basis to the understanding of the principles of, and experimental procedures involved in, the science of evolution and ecological genetics at the population level. It will be approached from the viewpoint of general biology: ecology and behaviour are combined with population genetics to better understand the evolution of species. It uses some basic modelling and both animal and plant examples. The examples/exercises are relevant to other modules taken by the students, in an ecological and applied context. A main feature of the module is a collection of small problem solving (numerical/statistical) exercises, seminars and practicals that illustrate the lecture material.

• Genetic variation: introduction to phenotype/ genotype, quantitative/qualitative variation, how to measure variation, and what are alleles
• Organisation of genetic variation: random mating and Hardy Weinberg equilibrium and population structure
• Sources of variation: mutation, recombination and migration, loss of variation: selection and genetic drift
• Quantitative genetic variation, heritability and selection
• Molecular population genetics and evolution
• Mating system, inbreeding depression, hybridisation
• Population fragmentation, population history, phylogeography
• Adaptive significance of sex and selfish genetic elements
• Natural and balanced selection and clines

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

After this module, students should understand the basic principles underlying evolutionary processes at the population level. They should be able to relate the practical examples with respect to, for instance, conservational implications of inbreeding in small populations, or selfing and they should be able to apply these principles to their general biological and human experience. Students should have more thorough understanding of testing hypotheses and statistical analyses and their use in biology. The knowledge gained is valuable for Stage 3 Conservation modules, their third year project and the broad area of ecology and behavioural evolution.

Intended Skill Outcomes

After this module students should be able to perform simple experiments in the laboratory and the field. They should be able to summarise data resulting from experiments in tables, statistically analyse them, test hypotheses and discuss results in a wider context. They will have increased their computing skills and practised problem solving. These skills are valuable for the final year Research Project.

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Assessed
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Numeracy : Assessed
    • Literacy : Assessed
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Present
      • Synthesise And Present Materials : Present
      • Use Of Computer Applications : Assessed
  • Self Management
    • Self Awareness And Reflection : Present
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Present
      • Decision Making : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Innovation And Creativity : Assessed
      • Initiative : Present
      • Independence : Present
      • Problem Solving : Assessed
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Present
      • Interpersonal : Present
      • Written Other : Present
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present
      • Relationship Building : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00Seminars. Application of stats. Support for numerical exercises.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:306:00Revision for final exam
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Final exam
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical12:002:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical31:003:00Computer practical
Guided Independent StudySkills practice52:0010:00Calculations homework / Blackboard tests to check homework understanding
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study121:0012:00Lecture follow up
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study126:0026:00Study of lectures, ReCap, Blackboard etc.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study117:0017:00Seminar preparation
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will introduce the basic material and the seminars, practicals and homework exercises/tests bring this into practice to ensure that the students learn from the lectures and are able to apply it to real situations.

Giving 3 practicals, 1 computer based practical and 5 homework exercises ensures that students come into contact with a variety of research techniques and different skills are used, such as arithmetics and IT skills. Seminars supply extensive feedback on exercises and Blackboard tests. These also help prepare the students for the exam.

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
Prob solv exercises2M20Homework exercises (5 x 4%), includes analysing practical results.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The module conveys theoretical material illustrated by a wide variety of examples. The best way of learning this material, which is generally considered very difficult, is by following each subject by a practical/paper exercise. These by themselves introduce a variety of research methods to the students as they take a variety of forms, from field collection of material, simple laboratory experiments, to mathematical exercises and computer simulations. Comprehension of lectures and work undertaken during laboratory classes / paper exercises is tested by taking a Blackboard test. The exam tests student's knowledge and skills.

The resit tests the understanding of the lectures and work undertaken during the laboratory classes.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2016/17 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 2017/18 entry will be published here in early-April 2017. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.