Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Evolutionary Psychology
Academic Year
Semester 1
Reading List
External Examiners
  • Dr Jane Morgan (Principal Lecturer - Sheffield Hallam University)
  • Dr Jelena Havelka (Lecturer - University of Leeds)

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 2500 words  50%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Exam  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 2500 words  50%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Exam  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Examine and evaluate the principles of evolutionary psychology, including the role of genes in behaviour.
2. Describe the controversies in relation to evolutionary psychology and critically appraise these in the context of the widely accepted proposals of evolutionary biology.
3. Critically evaluate research that has described human behaviour in the context of evolutionary mechanisms.
4. Critically evaluate the proposed applications of evolutionary psychology.
5. Critically evaluate research methods used in the study of evolutionary psychology.

Brochure Text

Evolutionary psychology is a new interdisciplinary field that studies how our preferences, emotions, and ways of thinking and behaving have been shaped by natural and sexual selection. Evolutionary psychology strives to understand how human thinking, motivation, behaviour, and social relationships evolved over evolutionary time. It focuses on how human nature has evolved to cope with problems of survival, mating, parenting, cooperation, and competition. It is therefore of significant academic interest as the only truly interdisciplinary framework within which to view the subject matter of psychology.

Brief description

The course will introduce evolutionary psychology, introducing students to the basic tenets and criticisms of the model, addressing evolutionary explanations for a wide range of human behaviours.


Key topics covered by the module are:
  • Evolutionary psychology as a science: its history, concepts, controversies, and methods
  • Sexual selection, strategies, attractiveness, conflict, and coercion
  • Mating, pair-bonding, parenting, children, kinship, and family conflict
  • Social relationships within and between groups
  • Adaptive cognition, rationality, and heuristics
This module will consist of a weekly two-hour lecture and one two-hour seminar.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Not directly applicable although students will be introduced to the key concepts of statistical analysis through the examination of research designs used in evolutionary psychology
Communication Students will be required to communicate often complex relationships between evolution, genes and behaviour
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context of assistance from both the facilitator and the fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own work and to exercise their own initiative, including searching for sources, and deciding the direction of their essay. The need to meet an essay deadline will focus students' attention on the need to manage their time and opportunity resources well
Information Technology Good use of word processing, database, search engine and reference management programmes will be required.
Personal Development and Career planning The module will help students gain greater insights into Darwinian and post-Darwinian perspectives on the form and purpose of the human brain and mind. It will therefore provide insights into many aspects of human behaviour of relevance to their performance in their undergraduate and postgraduate lives.
Problem solving Students will be required to solve evolutionary problems of the form 'how might behaviour x be explained in an evolutionary context?' and/or 'how might evolutionary theory provide a solution to problem x?'
Research skills Students will be required to source evidence that is consistent with the proposals of evolutionary psychology and to identify criteria that facilitate the discrimination of this evidence from that which is inconsistent with the proposals.
Subject Specific Skills Students will acquire the skill of interpreting human though and behaviour in evolutionary context.
Team work In the mid-term seminar students will be required to work in small teams to develop and present arguments for or against the proposals of evolutionary psychology


This module is at CQFW Level 5