About this course
Discover the process of evolution, and its impact on modern life, on this master’s course at the University of Southampton. You’ll work with experts in subject areas from biological sciences to philosophy as you explore the subject. You'll take a field trip to the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific, where Charles Darwin developed his theory of natural selection.
On this course, MRes Evolution: From the Galapagos to the 21st Century, you’ll work with academics from across the University while developing knowledge and skills in your chosen specialism.
As an MRes student you’ll spend more time on your research project and less on the taught part of the course.
You’ll gain a unique perspective on the subject through insights from subject areas including:
- biological sciences
- computer sciences
- ocean and Earth sciences
You’ll gain a strong foundation in evolutionary biology, while learning about new methods, current global challenges and the latest research topics, such as:
- evolutionary medicine
- evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo)
- computational evolution
- the philosophy of science
A highlight of the course is a 2-week field trip to the Galapagos, the ‘living laboratory’ that played a key role in Darwin’s theory of evolution. This is an amazing opportunity for you to discover how these remote islands’ unique species helped to shape modern science.
If you prefer, you can apply to study this course as:
- a part-time master's - study the same course content over 2 or more years
Your modules and fees may vary if you choose a different study option.
Your course leader is Dr Neil Gostling, Senior Teaching Fellow within Biological Sciences. He is an evolutionary-developmental biologist by training and a palaeobiologist by research. He uses innovative methods to answer questions about everything from the evolution of animals to the development of root systems. Read Dr Gostling’s staff profile to find out more about his work.
“Two days after handing in my MRes project, I started work as a researcher at the BBC Natural History Unit – the start of a career I had always dreamed of.”
This course is based at Highfield, Avenue and Waterfront (National Oceanography Centre Southampton).
This qualification is awarded by the University of Southampton.
Download the Course Description Document
The Course Description Document details your course overview, your course structure and how your course is taught and assessed.
Changes due to COVID-19
Although the COVID-19 situation is improving, any future restrictions could mean we might have to change the way parts of our teaching and learning take place in 2022 to 2023. This means that some of the information on this course page may be subject to change.
Find out more on our COVID advice page.
You’ll need a 2:1 degree.
Find the equivalent international qualifications for your country.
English language requirements
If English isn't your first language, you'll need to complete an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to demonstrate your competence in English. You'll need all of the following scores as a minimum:
IELTS score requirements
- overall score
We accept other English language tests. Find out which English language tests we accept.
Recognition of professional experience
If you don't have the exact entry requirements, but you have significant work experience in this sector we’ll assess your relevant professional experience, your subject knowledge and your aptitude for learning.
Your application will be considered on individual merit and you may be asked to attend an interview.
Got a question?
Please contact us if you're not sure you have the right experience or qualifications to get onto this course.
Tel: +44(0)23 8059 5000
On the full-time master’s course you’ll study for a full 12 months.
You’ll study the taught part of the course from September to May (semesters 1 and 2). This is made up of 3 compulsory modules and a module we’ll ask you to choose from a list of options.
The Galapagos field course takes place in September. Written exams take place at the end of semesters 1 and 2.
You’ll work on an extended research-based project throughout the year and submit your dissertation in August.
Want more detail? See all the modules in the course.
You can choose to take modules that aren't on this list, but you'll need to agree this with your course leader and module coordinators.
For entry in Academic Year 2021-22
Year 1 modules
You must study the following modules in year 1:
MRes Evolution: From the Galapagos to the 21st Century Project
This module provides two-thirds of the content for the MRes Wildlife Conservation programme. During it you will develop research skills, as you work closely with a Marwell Conservation Biologist and University of Southampton supervisor to propose a detail...
Topics in Evolution: from the Galapagos to the 21st Century
Evolution is a changing model of how we understand life. The Darwin-Wallace model, its integration with Mendellian genetics and its formalisation in the Modern Synthesis built a stable backbone for evolutionary biology over the last 150 years. Today, howe...
You must also choose from the following modules in year 1:
Bioinformatics and Systems Biology
Large-scale approaches at the molecular, cellular, organismal and ecological level are revolutionizing biology by enabling systems-level questions to be addressed. In many cases, these approaches are driven by technologies that allow the components of bio...
Cancer Chromosome Biology
This module will deliver a comprehensive analysis of selected topics associated with the cellular and molecular mechanisms that drive cancer development and lead to tumour progression. This will involve exploring the genetic drivers of disease, the mechan...
Computational methods in biomedical engineering design
Computational methods play an ever increasing role for the successful development of cost-effective and robust engineering solutions to address the challenges emerging from a healthcare agenda calling for prolonging independent living and the personalisat...
Contexts for Human Origins Research
The module will focus on the major questions which have been, and are being, asked of Palaeolithic data. These include such issues as language origins, global colonisation, population replacement, and hominin responses to palaeoclimatic and palaeoenviron...
Ecology of human evolution: biological, social and cultural approaches to hominin adaptations.
This module explores human evolution in terms of physiological, social and cultural adaptations. It explores human ecology in the broad sense, combining not just cultural and social variability, but also physiological adaptations in past and present-day h...
Evolution and Genetics
Evolution typically happens over long time periods, with organisms being selected based on their environments. But climate change and human factors can also increase the rate of evolution. In this module we show how organisms evolve in terms of their envi...
Evolution of Complexity
Evolution by natural selection has created amazingly complex and sophisticated solutions to some very difficult problems - how exactly does it achieve this, and how can we harness this capability for engineering artificial systems and computational proble...
Modelling with Differential Equations
The emphasis of this module is on the methods required to develop mathematical models using differential equations to understand physical problems. The module involves both conventional lectures as well as discussion lectures. The discussion lectures comp...
This module will provide an insight into the engineering based problems faced in orthopaedic biomechanics, through a detailed study of intact lower limb and the lower limb pre- and post- total joint replacement. You will gain an understanding of the struc...
Philosophy Individually Negotiated Topic 1
An Individually Negotiated Topic offers you the opportunity to explore in detail some central themes in a philosophical area of your choice. The areas that can be studied vary but may include, among others, Plato, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Wit...
Structure and Dynamics of Networks
Networks are ubiquitous in the modern world: from the biological networks that regulate cell behaviour, to technological networks such as the Internet and social networks such as Facebook. Typically real-world networks are large, complex, and exhibit both...
Terrestrial Ecosystems: Carbon Modelling and Monitoring
The module will provide understanding of current ( and future) biophysical products derived from remote sensing data and how they are being used in regional to global scale monitoring of current vegetation function and condition.The module will expose stu...
The Molecular and Structural Basis of Disease
The course provides an insight into how molecular studies can be employed to further medical research and aid in the development of novel treatments and therapeutics. The course will cover a number of areas including the role of epigenetic in disease, amy...
Learning and assessment
The learning activities for this course include:
- practical classes
- an extended research project
We’ll assess you through:
- practical work
- written exams
- a dissertation
You'll carry out a major piece of original research on a topic of your choice, in agreement with your supervisor, and write up your work in a dissertation.
You’ll spend 1,100 hours of independent study writing your research proposal, collecting and analysing data, and writing your dissertation.
You’ll have regular support meetings with your supervisor throughout the year.
We'll assign you a personal academic tutor, and you'll have access to a senior tutor.
With this degree you’ll be well placed for a career in a range of industries, such as:
You’ll also be in an ideal position to continue your research at PhD level.
Careers services at Southampton
We're a top 20 UK university for employability (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022). Our Careers and Employability Service will support you throughout your time as a student and for up to 5 years after graduation. This support includes:
- work experience schemes
- CV/resume and interview skills workshops
- networking events
- careers fairs attended by top employers
- a wealth of volunteering opportunities
- study abroad and summer school opportunities
We have a thriving entrepreneurship culture. You'll be able to take advantage of:
- our dedicated start-up incubator, Futureworlds
- a wide variety of enterprise events run throughout the year
- our partnership in the world’s number 1 business incubator, SETsquared
Fees, costs and funding
Fees for a year's study:
- UK students pay £14,600.
- EU and international students pay £28,000.
What your fees pay for
Your tuition fee covers the full cost of tuition and any exams.
Find out how to pay your tuition fees.
Accommodation and living costs, such as travel and food, are not included in your tuition fees. Explore:
10% alumni discount
If you’re a graduate of the University of Southampton you get a 10% discount on your postgraduate tuition fees.
Postgraduate Master’s Loans (UK nationals only)
This can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate master's course. Find out if you're eligible.
Funding your postgraduate studies
A variety of additional funding options may be available to help you pay for your master’s study. Both from the University and other organisations.
Funding for EU and international students
Find out about funding you could get as an international student.
How to apply
- Use the 'apply for this course' button on this page to take you to our online application form.
- Search for the course you want to apply for.
- Complete the application form and upload any supporting documents.
- Submit your application.
Make sure we receive your application at least 4 weeks before the start of the course. This gives us time to consider your application, if there are still places available.
Make sure we receive your application at least 6 weeks before the start of the course.
This gives us time to consider your application, if there are still places available. It will also give you time to apply for a visa if we offer you a place.
When you apply you’ll need to submit a personal statement explaining why you want to take the course.
You’ll need to include information about:
- your knowledge of the subject area
- why you want to study a postgraduate qualification in this course
- how you intend to use your qualification
You'll also need to send 2 academic references.
Please include the required paperwork showing your first degree and your IELTS English language test score (if you are a non-native English speaker) with your application. Without these, your application may be delayed.
What happens after you apply
You'll be able to track your application through our online Applicant Record System.
We'll assess your application on the strength of your:
- academic achievements
- relevant professional experience
- personal statement
- academic references
We will aim to send you a decision 6-8 weeks after you have submitted your application.
If we offer you a place, you will need to accept the offer within 30 working days. If you do not meet this deadline, we will offer your place to another applicant.
Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications we receive, we may not be able to give you specific feedback on your application if you are unsuccessful.
We may invite you to an interview, which will take place by phone if you live abroad. You'll get an email from the admissions tutor if we'd like to talk to you before offering you a place.
Equality and diversity
We treat and select everyone in line with our Equality and Diversity Statement.
Got a question?
Please contact us if you're not sure you have the right experience or qualifications to get onto this course.
Tel: +44(0)23 8059 5000
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