BIO1005 : Evolution

  • Module Leader(s): Dr Kirsten Wolff
  • Owning School: Biology
Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0

Aims

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

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Final exam
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 StudyDirected research and reading421:0042:00Assessed as part of exam
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study112:3012:30Study of lectures, ReCap, Blackboard etc.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study140:4510:30Lecture follow up
Total100:00
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.

Assessment Methods

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

Exams
Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
PC Examination1201A80Exam in computing cluster
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Case study1M20Tests on set readings (4 x 5%)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

In the exam, fill-in-the-word (20) and MCQ (20) formats test for recall of key terminology, concepts and facts. Short answers require more depth to be displayed over a range of topics (5/10 to be attempted). Four small in course assessments introduce, practise and assess data interpretation and understanding of set reading. This involves home work calculations and tutorial students are pointed at material on the web, e.g. on “life wire” and encouraged to take test available on “life wire” 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.

Reading Lists

Timetable

Disclaimer: The University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver modules in accordance with the descriptions set out in this catalogue. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, however, the University reserves the right to introduce changes to the information given including the addition, withdrawal or restructuring of modules if it considers such action to be necessary.