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The University of Southampton

BIOL2001 Evolution

Module Overview

The module seeks to: - explore the main evolutionary processes - consider evolution at the phenotypic as well as the molecular level - consider evolutionary processes occurring at different time scales

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Discuss the contribution that Darwin has made to our understanding of the process of evolution, and explain the terms Darwinism and Neodarwinism
  • Counter pseudo-scientific creationist claims with evidence
  • Explain what causes and maintains genetic and phenotypic variation
  • Explain the processes of natural, sexual and kin selection
  • Understand the basics of population genetics
  • Discuss the various modes of speciation
  • Understand the basics of phylogenetics and how phylogenetic trees are reconstructed
  • Discuss the molecular basis of evolution
  • Explain what horizontal gene transfer is and why it adds a new dimension to Darwinian evolution
  • Discuss the role that mass extinctions have played in the history of life on earth


The module will be taught by a number of different staff. It will begin by introducing Darwin and Darwinism. Then, key evolutionary processes such as the causes and maintenance of variation, selection, and speciation will be covered. This will be followed by an introduction to phylogenetics and the molecular basis of evolutionary processes. Horizontal gene transfer and mass extinctions are discussed as processes adding an extra dimension to Darwinism. Finally, the students will be given the necessary conceptual understanding to allow them to counter creationist pseudo-science.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The principal method of teaching will be via 24 lectures. Students will also participate in four different practicals, and will be required to write three practical reports (two practicals will be merged into one report). The students will be directed to considerable background reading.

Independent Study117
Practical classes and workshops9
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Barton NH, Briggs DEG, Eisen JA, Goldstein DB & Patel NH (eds) (2007). Evolution. 

Freeman S & Herron JC (eds) (2007). Evolutionary Analysis. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 70%
Practical Report 20%
Practical Report 10%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 30%
Examination 70%

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: BIOL1004 or BIOL1003.

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