Module Identifier BS22120  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Luis A J Mur  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Dr Glynis D Scott, Dr Gareth W Griffith  
Pre-Requisite BS10510  
Course delivery Lecture   30 Hours  
  Other   4 Hours Workshop. (2 x 2 hours)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam3 Hours On 3-hour theory paper  70%
Semester Assessment Course Work: Two course work assignments  30%
Supplementary Assessment One 3-hour theory paper (plus resubmission of failed coursework or an alternative)   

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module students should appreciate


To provide the theoretical background for understanding the modern theories of evolution, including at the molecular level. To inform of the genetic basis of evolution and the way in which molecular techniques can be used to explore evolutionary relationships, including the use of molecular clocks. To motivate students, for example, by making them aware of how evolution has shaped human populations.


The course starts with an introdcutory lecture, including a brief revision of the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium and its relationship to evolution. There will be a workshop to explore the basic principles of population genetics.

The units of selection will be discussed with reference to selfish DNA, group selection, and epigenetic inheritance. The relationship between fitness and selection will be covered, with reference to experiments that demonstrate evolution in vitro. Consideration will be given to question of why organisms do not evolve to be perfect, and why in the modern world we might expect to see maladaptation rather frequently.

The use of molecular clocks will be considered in some detail, including to trace the evolution of the AIDS virus, primates, and humans. Molecular tools will be described for the measurement of evolution and for the screening of biodiversity among animal, plant and microbial populations. Various nucleic acid techniques will be described, including the sequencing of small sub unit ribosmal RNA, the measurement of various DNA polymorphisms via restriction fragment length polymorphisms, and the polymerase chain reaction based methods of randomly amplified polymorphic DNAs, amplified fragment length polymorphism, and microsatellites. Rudimentary analysis of data will also be covered.

The effects of genetic drift will be considered, including its importance to conservation. The importance of the founder effect, migration and inbreeding will be demonstrated using examples of human populations.

There will be a lecture and video on the evolution of sex. This will include a presentation of the arguments about why there are often only two sexes in higher vertebrates. There will be an introduction to game theory and its use in exploring the evolution of animal behaviour. This will include the evolution of animal aggression.

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
Freeman, S & Herron, J.C. (2001) Evolutionary analysis 2nd. Prentice Hall
Dawkins, R. (1982) The extended phenotype Oxford University Press
Avise, J.C. (1994) Molecular markers, natural history and evolution Chapman & Hall


This module is at CQFW Level 5