skip to primary navigationskip to content
 

Evolution and Behaviour

Subject Summary: Part IA Evolution and Behaviour

Evolution and Behaviour aims to introduce students to two main fields of whole organism biology. The course is taught jointly by the Departments of Zoology, Genetics, Biochemistry, Plant Sciences, Psychology and the Division of Biological Anthropology.

 The course consists of five half term sections:

  • Evolutionary theory
  • The origins of cells and the evolution of plants
  • The evolution and diversity of animals
  • The evolution of behaviour
  • Primate and human evolution and behaviour

 The aims of the course are to introduce 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. Lectures and practicals are designed to show how natural selection ultimately underpins all biological processes and how evolution has generated biological diversity. The major transitions in evolution, from the origin of life and of sex, to hominid evolution are detailed, and the evolutionary basis of behaviour in animals, including primates and humans are considered. The practical side of the course comprises practicals that complement lecture material and aim to develop students' practical skills. Some of the practicals are assessed: there is no practical examination. 

Evolution and Behaviour provides a broad base for further studies across the whole spectrum of biology, and should be considered by all biologists. The course is also appropriate for physical scientists with an interest in evolutionary biology or psychology. 

Knowledge of A Level Biology is highly desirable for this course. In particular, knowledge of basic principles of genetics and biochemistry is assumed. Evolution and Behaviour is an excellent precursor for all second-year biological and psychological courses.

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.

Aims

  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

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  is available on the Course Websites pages.