Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Genetics, Evolution and Diversity
Academic Year
Semester 1
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1.5 Hours   In Semester Blackboard test covering the practical material  50%
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   MCQ Examination  50%
Supplementary Assessment 1.5 Hours   Blackboard test covering the practical material  50%
Supplementary Exam 1.5 Hours   Supplementary MCQ Examination  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

Describe genetic processes at all levels of organisation (e.g. molecular, chromosomal, population) with reference to appropriate structures and concepts.

Carry out genetic experiments in the laboratory, using appropriate equipment and techniques, and analyse and interpret the resulting data.

Outline the key phases in the evolution of life on Earth, describe the evolution of major groups of organisms and identify the anatomical links between extinct and living life forms.

Compare and contrast the morphology and anatomy of the major groups, be able to identify representatives of the groups and describe their key features and physiological adaptations in the context of environmental conditions. .

Explain how different biological classification systems are defined and used and describe the diversity and evolutionary history of a taxon of organisms through the construction of a basic phylogenetic tree and its interpretation.

Brief description

This module will cover the basic processes and mechanisms that underpin the evolution and development of life on Earth, from molecular and cellular aspects through mechanisms of heredity, to population and organismal evolution. Lectures will cover the basic principles of molecular and cellular genetics, and the processes and signatures of organismal evolution evident in both the fossil record and in the diversity of extant taxa. Practical aspects will cover molecular and cellular genetic processes, as well as the reconstruction of evolutionary history through phylogenetics.


Genes and heredity
Population genetics
The evolution of life
Palaeobiology and the fossil record
The evolution of extinct and extant patterns of diversity
Classification of life
Reconstructing evolutionary history
Gene expression and development

This content will be delivered through a series of lectures, and assessed via both coursework assignments and a final examination.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Adaptability and resilience N/A
Co-ordinating with others Practicals require students to work in small groups / pairs.
Creative Problem Solving Practical classes will allow students to gain experience in interpreting and analysing data and writing-up assessed coursework. Students will develop creative approaches to experimental design, critically evaluate their proposed solutions and construct rational proposals in response to experimental challenge. Many exam questions also contain a problem solving element.
Critical and analytical thinking Students will be expected to utilise critical and analytical thinking throughout the module, from assessing priorities for self-learning and revision, to analysis and interpretation of data gathered through the various practical classes and coursework assignment. Students are also encouraged to reflect on the concepts presented in the taught material to achieve an holistic view of the subject, both within the context of the module and beyond.
Digital capability Students are encouraged to obtain information from recent research publications, accessed using ISI Web of Science and other internet resources for use in their coursework. They will also use online learning resources to explore core principles of taxonomy and phylogenetics, as well as using a variety of software to reconstruct phylogenies.
Professional communication Students will develop effective written communication skills in the examination and coursework. Feedback will be given.
Real world sense Students will be made aware of how the material covered in the module underpins all aspects of the Life Sciences, and how these are fundamental to the real world as a whole e.g. health/medicine, technology, societal progress, etc.
Reflection As highlighted above, students are encouraged to reflect on the concepts presented in the taught material to achieve an holistic view of the subject, both within the context of the module and beyond.
Subject Specific Skills Laboratory practical classes require students to follow laboratory protocols, use microscopes, prepare slides and interpret data. Students will be able use a variety of software to reconstruct phylogenies. Students will also be able to describe key evolutionary concepts, and describe the related key features of selected examples of unicellular organisms, plants, invertebrates and vertebrates. They will be able to describe core principles underpinning taxonomy, phylogenetics and cladistics.


This module is at CQFW Level 4