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Durham University

Faculty Handbook 2022-2023

Module Description

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

Department: Biosciences


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap Location Durham


  • • Level 1 Organisms and Environment (BIOL1161); Level 1 Genetics (BIOL1171)


  • • At least one other Level 2 Biological Sciences Module

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • • None


  • To study the molecular basis of evolutionary change.
  • To study the processes by which evolutionary change takes place.
  • To relate the diversity of living organisms to the evolutionary processes that promote change and conserve function


  • Genome structure and mutations – the raw material of evolution.
  • Evolving phenotypes and the interaction between evolution and development.
  • How populations evolve by natural selection and genetic drift.
  • The concept of the species and how new species evolve.
  • Interpreting evolutionary histories (phylogenies) and species radiations.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • The nature of mutations and when they may lead to evolutionary change.
  • Knowledge of evolutionary processes in natural populations.
  • Knowledge of the nature of species and the process of speciation.
  • Knowledge of the major patterns of organismal diversity and the mechanisms that determine species radiations.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To be able to understand and apply basic mathematical principles to an understanding of evolutionary processes.
  • To be able to apply evolutionary principles to the classification of biodiversity.
Key Skills:
  • Numeracy, in data analysis, and calculations involved in data handling problems.
  • IT skills, in use of software packages.
  • Communication skills, using the written word and graphics, involved in evolution practical reports.
  • Team work.
  • Self-motivation, in self-guided learning.

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

  • Lectures deliver subject-specific knowledge.
  • Workshops reinforce subject-specific knowledge and understanding gained from lectures and the development of key and subject-specific skills.
  • Practical Exercises allow students to utilise subject-specific knowledge gained from lectures, and support the development of key and subject-specific skills.
  • Tutorials give enhancement of the student learning experience, supporting attainment of all learning outcomes.
  • Self-guided learning contributes to subject-specific knowledge and self-motivation.
  • Practical Exercises are based on subject-specific knowledge and demonstrate subject-specific skills in understanding experimental work and data analysis.
  • Problem Exercises (Data Handling) demonstrate subject-specific skills in data handling and key skills in numeracy.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 24 Weekly 2 hours p / w 24
Practical Exercises 2 1 per term 4-8 hours 12
Workshops 8 3-4 per term 1-2 hours 12
Tutorials 2 1 per term 1 hour 2
Preparation & Reading 150
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written exercise 50% No
Analytical exercise 50% No

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessments will be provided to develop the skills for each summative assessment as appropriate.

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

If you have a query about a specific module or degree programme, please contact the appropriate department.

If you have a question about Durham's modular degree programmes, please visit our FAQ webpage. If you have a question about modular programmes that is not covered by the FAQ, or a query about the on-line Faculty Handbook, please contact us using the Comments and Questions form below.