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Evolution and Behaviour

Programme Specification: Part IA Evolution and Behaviour

This course is taught jointly by the Departments of Biochemistry, Psychology, Genetics, Plant Sciences, Zoology and the Division of Biological Anthropology, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology.


  1. to provide a course on evolutionary biology that introduces students to the major principles of evolutionary theory, and ranges from the origins of life, through the evolution of plants and animals to the evolution of behaviour;
  2. to prepare students for subsequent biology courses that require an understanding of evolution and behaviour;
  3. to show how natural selection ultimately underpins all biological processes and how evolution has generated biological diversity;
  4. to outline the major transitions in evolution, from the origin of life and of sex, to hominin evolution;
  5. to investigate the evolutionary basis of behaviour in animals, including primates and human;
  6. to develop practical biological skills.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students should:

  1. have an enhanced knowledge and appreciation of evolutionary biology and behaviour;
  2. be able to develop cogent and critical arguments based on the course material;
  3. be able to perform, analyse and report on experiments and observations in whole-organism biology;
  4. be able to integrate related topics from separate parts of the course.

Teaching and Learning Methods

These include lectures, supervisions, practical classes and a field course.


Assessment for this course is through:

  • one unseen written examination (for aims 1-5 and learning outcomes 1-4);
  • submission of records of practical work (for aim 6 and learning outcomes 3 and 4).

Courses of Preparation

Essential: None.

Highly desirable: A Level Biology.

Additional Information

Further information on each subject is available in the Subject summary and on the Course Websites pages.