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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Biological Sciences : Biology

Undergraduate Course: Evolution in Action 2 (BILG08005)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Biological Sciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryAn introduction to modern evolutionary biology, covering the origin of hereditary variation, natural selection, the origin of species, methods of phylogeny construction, major evolutionary events and coevolution. Examples will be drawn from all major taxa; molecular, cellular, morphological and behavioural evolution will be considered.
Course description Evolutionary biology is the subject of this course, and the aims are to outline the major processes giving rise to the diversity of extinct and extant organic life, to indicate the time frame over which these processes occur, and to introduce the methods used to study evolutionary processes. The examples used in the lectures and practicals are drawn from animals, plants and microorganisms, and the characters considered are behavioural, ecological, morphological, cellular and molecular.

After outlining the ecological context of evolution, the process of evolutionary change leading to speciation is discussed. The origin and pattern of genetic variation in natural populations is then described, followed by a detailed examination of the evolutionary forces - natural selection, genetic drift and gene flow - that determine the fate of inherited variation. The evolution of social behaviour, particularly altruism and competition for mates, is discussed. Finally, the special role played by change in developmental processes in evolution is described.

The practicals enlarge upon material described in the lectures and provide opportunity for discussion of the concepts and evidence involved. The practicals include demonstrations of the processes of evolution, genetic variation in natural populations and the methods by which it can be measured, and simple methods for interpreting such information and predicting the course of evolutionary change. Visits to Edinburgh Zoo and the National Museum of Scotland allow students to think about how the evolutionary concepts that they learn apply to real organisms. Facilitated discussions allow students to engage with their peers in examining some of the more complex or applied aspects of evolutionary biology.

The course should be of interest to every biology student, because evolution is fundamental to understanding the nature of living organisms at all levels from the ecological to the molecular.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Origin and Diversity of Life 1 (BILG08001)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesEquivalent of the courses listed above
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2016/17, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 30, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 15, External Visit Hours 6, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 142 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 75 %, Coursework 25 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Exam (75%) plus in-course assessment (25%).
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Evolution in Action 22:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Gain a thorough understanding of the theory of evolution and its place in modern biology.
  2. Understand the processes underlying evolution at various levels, from variation within species to diversification of larger groups. Explore various ideas of how genetic diversity is maintained.
  3. Have knowledge of the broad range of methods used to study evolution. Learn how to qualtify and measure the factors involved in natural selection and genetic drift.
  4. Be able to construct phylogenetic trees and appreciate how these are used by evolutionary biologists.
  5. Understand the process of developmetn and the light this sheds on the evolutionary process.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Laboratory Tu 1400-1700 or F 1400-1700 (alternate weeks)
Course organiserDr Patrick Walsh
Tel: (0131 6)50 5474
Course secretaryMr Tim Macdonald
Tel: (0131 6)51 7296
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