Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Evolution and Molecular Systematics
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Workshop 2 x 2 Hour Workshops
Lecture 24 x 1 Hour Lectures
Workshop 1 x 3 Hour Workshop


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Population Genetics Workshop.  20%
Semester Assessment Database interrogation and phylogenetic Workshop.  10%
Semester Assessment Evolutionary analysis of selection on MHC genes.  20%
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   Essay question paper.  50%
Supplementary Assessment Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module.  50%
Supplementary Exam 1.5 Hours   Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module.  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. appreciate the principles of evolution

2. appreciate the application of modern molecular techniques to the study of evolution

3. be able to manipulate and interpret data, and solve problems relating to basic population genetics, and molecular clocks.

4. Discuss the relevance of phylogenetic methods and their use in elucidating the evolution relationships between taxa in a range of situations

5. Select and use appropriate resources and software tools for processing genomic information, determining sequence homologies in relation to evolutionary relationships

Brief description

This course will provide the theoretical background for understanding the theory of evolution. The evidence supporting evolution will be discussed and include a consideration of morphological, paleontological and genetic evidence. Possible mechanism of speciation will be considered Genetic evidence for evolution will involve an introduction to population genetics, genome comparisons and the use of molecular clocks. Human evolution will be examined in detail showing how fossil and molecular data can be used to gain insight into evolutionary trends and drivers.
A practical series will provide both theoretical and practical training in computer based a) biological database searching; b) multiple sequence alignment and c) phylogenetic analysis. This process will provide key skills in genetic analyses and will illustrate likely evolutionary relationships


The lectures will cover the following topics
What is Evolution?
Evidence for Evolution:
Paleontological evidence
Speciation Mechanisms
Modeling Evolution: Population genetics
The principles of tree construction in phylogenetics
The use of genomic data to reveal phylogenetic relationships.
Case Study: Human Evolution

The lectures will be complemented by an extensive practical programme:

A paper-based workshop will investigate how gene changes in a population can be modeled. This will focus on the impact of disease on key allele within a human population;

Three computer workshops will establish skills allowing the retrieval of information from biological databases and their use in phylogenetic analyses.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Students will have opportunity to collect and interpret data in practical classes with respect to quality and quantity. This will include the Application of statistically-based web tools for analysis of sequence data to derive phylogenetic trees. Feedback on this will be provided with the returned assignment.
Communication Students will develop effective listening skills for the lectures. Students will develop effective written communication skills in practical class write-ups. Feedback on this will be provided with returned assignment.
Improving own Learning and Performance Student’s ability to devise and monitor time management, learning and performance skills throughout module via attending lectures and practical classes.
Information Technology Students will develop skills in accessing the web for information sources and free software for phylogenetic analysis and data display.
Personal Development and Career planning
Problem solving Students will develop skills in lectures. Practicals will be designed to allow students to gain experience in extracting and interpreting data. Feedback on will be provided with the returned assignment.
Research skills Practical classes will develop skills in the extractions and analysis of data from web-accessible databases and the critical evaluation of data. Feedback will be provided with returned assignments.
Subject Specific Skills Accessing, assimilating and storing information via remote computer servers.
Team work


This module is at CQFW Level 5