Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2005-2006 (archived)


Department: ANTHROPOLOGY (HUMAN SCIENCES) [Queen's Campus, Stockton]


Type Tied Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2005/06 Module Cap None. Location Queen's Campus Stockton
Tied to L600
Tied to B991
Tied to C1L6


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This module aims to extend students' understanding of the evolution of modern humans.
  • Students will study the genetic mechanisms of evolution, the archaeological evidence for biological and cultural evolution and the analysis of behavioural evolution from human and non-human primate perspectives.
  • The module builds upon knowledge introduced in the first year module Biological and Social Origins and prepares students for Level 3 modules requiring an evolutionary perspective.


  • In the first semester the course will examine the origins of anatomically modern human populations and their distinct patterns of behaviour.
  • First it will assess the kinds of evidence provided by the archaeological record and then it will address major issues in the development of modern humans.
  • Aspects of evolution considered will be: the evolution of human mental capacities, complex symbolic language and cultural behaviour.
  • evolutionary trends in population growth, social organisation and social stratification.
  • patterns in human subsistence, nutrition and health.
  • In the second semester the course will consider social complexity and its corollaries in non-human primates.
  • Important issues here will include intelligence, communication, hierarchy and gender.
  • We will also examine the genetic mechanisms for evolution.
  • In particular, we will focus on population genetics, genetic diseases and modes of inheritance and the 'coevolution' of genes and culture.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Familiarity with the evidence for the biological and cultural evolution of anatomically modern humans.
  • Knowledge of human sketetal and dental anatomy.
  • Critical understanding of theories used by primatologists, anthropologists and archaeolgists to account for social evolution.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Collect and interpret osteological data.
  • Relate theoretical approaches in biological anthropology to issues in the evolution of modern humans.
Key Skills:
  • Write reports of Laboratory practicals.
  • Analyse and interpret quantitative data.
  • Problem Solving
  • Extract and integrate key concepts from primary research material.
  • Produce a coherently argued research project.

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

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Examination/Coursework
  • Coursework.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars / Practicals 14 Fortnightly 2 hours 28
Fieldwork 1 1 3 hours 3
Preparation and Reading 169
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination / Coursework Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
two-hour examination 60%
1000 word zoo report 40%
Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
2500 word project 60%
1000 word practical report 40%

Formative Assessment:

Project plans and problems submitted and returned with comments

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