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Courses / Modules / BIOL6087 Topics in Evolution: from the Galapagos to the 21st Century

Topics in Evolution: from the Galapagos to the 21st Century

When you'll study it
Semester 1
CATS points
ECTS points
Level 7
Module lead
Neil Gostling
Academic year

Module overview

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, however, the field is expanding scientifically and conceptually in many new ways. The integration of evolutionary thinking with developmental biology has been one of the biggest extentions in the last decades and more recently there is growing awareness that evolutionary and ecological timescales cannot be treated separately as they have been. Meanwhile, new understanding of epigenetic inheritance, niche construction and phenotypic plasticity challenge conventional frameworks and assumptions – motivating interest in an ‘Extended Evolutionary Synthesis’. The EES is a novel way of looking at evolutionary phenomena, which, rather than replacing the Modern Synthesis, seeks to enhance and energise evolutionary thinking. It focuses on four converging themes, Developmental bias, Developmental plasticity, Inclusive inheritance and Niche Construction (see for more details).

In this module we will introduce the relevant topics from pre-Darwinian ideas right up to current thinking and outstanding research questions.

We will explore the ways that evolutionary biology interfaces with 21st Century Science.

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