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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Biological Sciences : Biology

Undergraduate Course: Evolutionary and Ecological Genetics 3 (BILG09004)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Biological Sciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryBehaviour of genetic variation in populations. Evolution at the molecular level, and the use of molecular information in construction of phylogenies. The genetic basis of Quantitative variation. Natural selection due to interaction with the physical and biotic environment.
Course description This course will introduce you about the processes that underlie evolutionary change in natural populations. It is intended to give an integrated view, showing how theoretical approaches can be applied to investigate natural evolutionary processes. We will deal with subjects ranging from the evolutionary fate of molecular sequences to the genetic consequences of interactions between species, and from variation at single genes to speciation.

The course starts with population genetics and molecular evolution (Weeks 1-4) emphasising its importance in understanding the process of biological evolution. This is followed by an introduction to the genetics of quantitative characters (Weeks 5-7). The course ends with lecture modules on molecular phylogenetics, mechanisms of speciation, and genetic parasites (Weeks 8-10).

The first three sections of the course are associated with computer-based practical classes (which are assessed through digital quizzes online) and live digital "problem" tutorials. These sessions are designed to assist with understanding of key concepts, to give practice in problem solving and to develop competence in quantitative analysis. An essay and associated tutorials provide the opportunity for assimilating and synthesising information from the primary literature and discussing its interpretation.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Biology 2B: Genetics and Evolution (BILG08025)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Biological Sciences students are automatically eligible to take this course by having completed the compulsory Year 2 courses [Biology 2A (BILG08024), Biology 2B (BILG08025) and Biology 2C (BILG08026)].
Students from other Schools are advised to enquire with the Course Organiser if you are not sure whether this course is suitable for you.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesEquivalent of the courses listed above
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 6, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Revision Session Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 155 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) ICA (50% of course) is comprised of a 2000 word essay (27%), engagement with the essay reading (3%), and 4 short online quizzes associated with computer practicals (5% each).

Degree examination (50% of course)
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Know that Biological Evolution is the result of interaction between processes such as mutation, genetic drift, natural selection, migration, and recombination, and understand in qualitative terms how these processes occur and interact
  2. Be able to apply simple equations and statistical methods to quantify the processes that underlie evolution, and to test for departures from neutral or null expectations
  3. Be able to integrate distinct views of the evolutionary process, and to assess and evaluate the assumptions behind models and model-based analyses
  4. Use graphs to display and interpret genetic and phenotypic data in an evolutionary or ecological context, and use simple statistical methods such as the chi-squared test, regression and ANOVA to analyse them.
  5. Be able to work in small groups to propose and evaluate standard methods for analysing genetic and phenotypic data in an evolutionary or ecological context, and present your solutions and reasoning to peers.
Reading List
You are not expected to buy any text books. We do not follow any particular book closely, and all should be available in the library or downloadable for free. Most lecturers provide suggested additional reading in the form of papers from scientific literature, and these can be accessed online directly or through the University Library.

We also provide a free PDF book by Prof. Graham Coop (UC Davis) that can be downloaded from the LEARN. However, we do not follow the text closely; consider it a parallel source of information, not just a re-statement of the lectures. In addition, some of the material it covers is beyond this course - do not feel you need to read the sections that are not recommended.

Coop, G (2020) "Population and Quantitative genetics" (available on LEARN)

If you need a more general introduction, then a suitable introductory text is:

Ridley, M. (2003) Evolution (3rd edition). Blackwell, Oxford (QH366.2 Rid)

Ridley's book provides an overview and basic introduction, and is associated with Web-based review questions and tutorials that may be helpful.

The following textbooks cover particular aspects of the course, and where specifically indicated in lectures / notes they should be consulted. However, in general these are for reference, and do not form required reading

Barton, N. H. et al. (2007). Evolution. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press (HUB RESERVE; Folio QH366.2 Evo.)
Gillespie (2004) ┬┐Population Genetics: A Concise Guide┬┐ Johns Hopkins University Press (QH455 Gil.)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information 20 hours of pre-recorded lecture modules
20 hours of live discussion sessions relating to lecture modules
10 hours of live practical sessions
6 hours of tutorials
2 hours of revision sessions
Course organiserDr Darren Obbard
Tel: (0131 6)51 7781
Course secretaryMiss Janna James
Tel: (0131 6)50 8649
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