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Evolution: From the Galapagos to the 21st Century (MRes)

Master of Research
Typical Offer
2:1 degree View full entry requirements
1 year
Course Type
Highfield, Avenue and Waterfront (National Oceanography Centre Southampton)
Next course starts
September 2024

About this course

Discover mechanisms of evolution, and its impact on modern life, on this Master’s course at the University of Southampton. 

You'll learn core skills in research, design, and project management as you conduct your own innovative research on evolution. You’ll be able to work with subject area experts, ranging from biology to computing to philosophy. Together, you’ll explore how we reconstruct the history of organisms, test evolutionary theories, and use evolution to inspire technology.

You'll take a field trip to the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific. There, you'll spend 2 weeks working on your own project in the same place where Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution.

From an evolutionary perspective, you’ll better understand how organisms are built, function, and interact with the world. You’ll work closely with academics across the University while developing knowledge and transferrable skills in your chosen specialism.

As an MRes student, you’ll dedicate significant time to your research project and less to the classroom. 

Through classes and research, you'll form your own perspective on how evolutionary methods contribute to modern interdisciplinary science. You'll investigate subject areas such as:

  • biological sciences 
  • archaeology 
  • computer sciences 
  • engineering 
  • maths 
  • medicine 
  • ocean and Earth sciences 

Besides gaining a firm foundation in evolutionary biology, you’ll learn about new methods, current global challenges, and the latest research topics. These include: 

  • evolutionary medicine 
  • evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) 
  • bioengineering 
  • computational evolution 
  • the philosophy of science 
  • crop evolution
  • phylogenetic analysis

A highlight of this course is a 2-week research trip to the Galapagos, the ‘living laboratory’ that played a key role in Darwin developing his theory of evolution. This incredible opportunity allows you to experience directly how the endemic species of these remote islands helped shape modern science.

Flexible study

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.

We regularly review our courses to ensure and improve quality. This course may be revised as a result of this. Any revision will be balanced against the requirement that the student should receive the educational service expected. Find out why, when, and how we might make changes.

Our courses are regulated in England by the Office for Students (OfS).

Course lead

Your course leader is Dr Neil Gostling, Associate Professor within Biological Sciences. 

He's 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 Neil’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.”
Thomas Land, Researcher, BBC Natural History Unit, 2020 graduate

What it’s like to study MRes Evolution: From the Galapagos to the 21st Century

In this video, Ethan talks about his role working on bones of a new dinosaur found on the Isle of Wight.

Course locations

This course is based at Highfield, Avenue and Waterfront (National Oceanography Centre Southampton).

Awarding body

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.