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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Biological Sciences : Postgraduate

Postgraduate Course: Phylogenetics and Population Genetics (PLSC11003)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Biological Sciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryPhylogenetics is a discipline with an ever increasing impact in biology, from taxonomic classifications, biogeography, trait evolution and biome assembly. The Phylogenetics course leads you to the current state-of-the-art in the field, starting with a historical overview of phylogenetics. By the end of the course you should be adept at taking raw molecular data and generating phylogenies based on parsimony, bayesian and likelihood methods in a range of software packages. Population genetics focuses on examining the amounts and partitioning of genetic variation and establishing the evolutionary processes underlying population differentiation and diversification. This provides insights into how some groups of populations remain on a common evolutionary trajectory and others diversify into different ecotypes or species. Population genetic approaches are also widely used in conservation programmes in which the conservation of genetic biodiversity is an explicit goal. At the interface of population genetics (diversity and differentiation within species) and phylogenetics (relationships and differentiation between species) is the nature of the species themselves.
Course description The course has two distinct parts: 1. Phylogenetics, which covers history of the field and the development of current methods of analysis and considers data types and data acquisition and formatting. It involves a mix of pen-and-paper and computer practicals for analysis of DNA data using parsimony, likelihood and Bayesian methods, trait evolution and ancestral state reconstruction, and molecular dating. It is taught using botanical examples. 2. Population genetics, covers DNA sequencing methods and molecular markers, DNA barcoding, conservation genetics, phylogeography, and the four evolutionary forces (mutation, migration, selection and drift), and HW equilibrium, plus analytical methods in population genetics.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Blocks 1-3 (Sem 1-2)
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 26, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 8, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 76, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 8, Formative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 76 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment is through two written assignments, with population genetics counting for 1/3 of the mark, and phylogenetics counting for 2/3. The population genetics assignment consists of two parts; (i) comparing the genetic diversity between samples collected in the field and samples from a seed bank; (ii) carrying out a STRUCTURE analysis on a real data set with interpretation of the results. The phylogenetics assignment consists of a writing a short scientific paper, based on a DNA data set you will be given to make a phylogeny.
Feedback Feedback is offered as written comments to students after their assignments.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the theory supporting phylogenetic and population genetic analyses.
  2. Review different methods of phylogenetic and population genetic analysis, illustrate how they can be used to address different biological questions or hypotheses, and evaluate which are appropriate for a particular question or hypothesis.
  3. Apply methods for curation of data and production of publication-quality analyses.
  4. Appraise research papers reporting phylogenetic or population genetic analyses.
  5. Create a research report, based on analysis of data, in the format of a scientific research paper.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Analysis
Critical Analysis
Problem solving
IT skills
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Andrew Hudson
Tel: (0131 6)50 3383
Course secretaryMiss Fionnuala Nidhonnabhain
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