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Durham University

Faculty Handbook 2019-2020

Module Description

Please ensure you check the module availability box for each module outline, as not all modules will run each academic year.

Department: Anthropology

ANTH1091: Human Evolution and Diversity

Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap 200 Location Durham


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to the biological basis of human diversity.
  • To introduce students to key areas of study and key methodologies used within biological anthropology.
  • To provide students with basic vocabularly, concepts and theories which will prepare them for further study of biological anthropology.


  • Evolutionary Theory and basic principles of inheritance (Mendelian inheritance, DNA, population genetics)
  • Human adaptation (genetic, anatomical, physiological, behavioural and cultural) to diverse environments.
  • Human origins, including primate and hominin evolution and dispersal
  • Modern primate diversity, behaviour and ecology
  • Evolutionary approaches to understanding contemporary human behaviour and culture

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students will understand and be familiar with:
  • the basic principles and mechanisms of evolution and genetics
  • the different ways in which humans adapt to their environments and the interplay between physiological, developmental, genetic, behavioural and cultural adaptations.
  • how humans evolved and their place within primate and hominin phylogenies
  • diversity in modern non-human primates
  • how evolutionary principles can be used to understand contemporary human behaviour and culture
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will be able to:
  • locate relevant material, both electronic and other, which will further understanding of key concepts in biological anthropology
  • read texts with a basic understanding of the purposes of biological anthropological research
  • employ basic techniques used in the study of primate, hominin and human skeletal material
  • identify non-human primate species
  • be able to identify the main bones in the human and non-human primate skeleton
  • employ basic experimental methods in the evolutionary study of human behaviour and culture
Key Skills:
  • Competence in lab work
  • Working in small groups
  • Literature search / review
  • Critical analysis of arguments
  • Presenting quantitative biological/behavioural data in written form.
  • Time management

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Pleneries will provide students with the factual knowledge they require to understand key Biological Anthropological issues at an introductory level. These sessions will consist of lectures and interactive learning activities (e.g. quizzes, experiments, debates, group-based discussions, etc.).
  • Practicals will provide 'hands on' experience of methods and concepts used in biological anthropology relating to the subject-specific skills.
  • A practicals portfolio will allow students to record quantitative biological data and interpret that data in the context of theory in biological anthropology.
  • The exam will test understanding of key theories, concepts and methods, and critical writing skills.

Teaching Methods and Contact Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Pleneries 18 Weekly 2 hours 36
Practicals 4 Two per term 1 hour 4
Preparation and Reading 160
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Exam Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written exam 2.5 hours 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Assignments set in practicals (compiled into a practicals portfolio) and pleneries.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University

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