Module Catalogue 2022/23

PSY1003 : Evolution and Genetics for Psychologists

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr John Skelhorn, Professor Melissa Bateson
  • Owning School: Psychology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



• To provide an introduction to and overview of the theory of evolution
• To introduce the fundamental concepts of genetics, including Mendelian and quantitative genetics, basics of molecular genetics and genomics, and the genetics of populations
• To examine genetic bases of some human phenotypic characteristics, including diseases, physical characteristics, and individual difference traits
• To examine how evolutionary ideas may be applied to the physical and behavioural characteristics of modern humans
• To provide a brief primer on the evolution of modern humans, including the modern human brain, as a way of preparing for further study in psychology

Original Summary:
This course gives an accessible introduction to evolution and genetics, designed for students going on to study psychology and other human sciences. It reviews the key principles of evolution and explains the mechanisms of genetics, using examples from humans and other animals. It also examines the place of humans in the natural world through an introduction to other primate species, and our extinct ancestors. The emphasis throughout is on the relevance of evolution to the behaviour and cognition of contemporary humans.

Outline Of Syllabus

•       Why study evolution and genetics?
•       Cells, genes and DNA
•       Genetic variation and its effect on the phenotype
•       The structure of the human genome
•       The evolutionary process
•       Beyond self-interest: Kin selection and cooperation
•       The evolution of sex
•       Human sex differences
•       The evolution of human social behaviour
•       Parental and grandparental investment
•       Language and culture
•       Primates and human ancestors
•       Evolutionary psychology

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of this module students will be able to:
•       Describe the principles of natural and sexual selection
•       Describe the principles of Mendelian and quantitative genetics
•       Evaluate claims concerning the heritability of psychological characteristics
•       Distinguish between proximate, ultimate, ontogenetic and phylogenetic explanations
•       Appraise the methods of testing different kinds of evolutionary explanations
•       Set modern humans in their evolutionary context
•       Critically examine evolutionary approaches to modern human behaviour.

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of this module students will be able to:
•       Put forward evolutionary explanations for human characteristics
•       Critically evaluate claims about the evolutionary bases of human behaviour
•       Distinguish different claims about the genetic basis of behaviour and evaluate their evidential basis
•       Use evolutionary and biological terminology and nomenclature correctly

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00Present in Person lectures
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading120:0020:00Further research and reading
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity18:008:00Self-study problems in textbook
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study150:0050:00Reading the assigned textbook
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The body of relevant content is conveyed principally via the textbook reading, which is support by the lectures. These work through the material chapter by chapter. Slides are provided to support these. Students are directed to self- assessment problems at the end of each chapter of the textbook, and other resources and strategies for independent study on related and enrichment topics.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Digital Examination902A100Multiple choice questions (90), unseen, PIP Inspera invigilated.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The Multiple Choice, problem-based format is suitable for assessing the full breadth of the students’ understanding of the module content.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2022/23 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 2023/24 entry will be published here in early-April 2023. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.