Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2005-2006 (archived)


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


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2005/06 Module Cap None. Location Queen's Campus Stockton


  • Evolutionary Issues (HUSS2301), Biological Anthropology II (ANTH2011), Phase 1 MBBS (Intercalated BSc students).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To expose the students to the principles of studying the genetic components of behaviour in populations and its relevance for the anticipated revolution in behavioural molecular genetic medicine.


  • This module will comprise: Knowledge of the inheritance and heritability of complex behavioural traits.
  • Experimental design and statistics available to study variation of complex traits within and between populations.
  • Molecular methods to investigate responsible genes and their variability.
  • Statistical methods to find genes that code for complex traits.
  • A number of topics and their medical and social relevance will be scrutinised.
  • Evidence for genetic variability and how this relates to environmental parameters for traits such as: cognitive (dis)abilities, schizophrenia, mood disorders, alcoholism, criminality, attention deficit and sexual orientation.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Familiarity with statisical methods to investigate genetic variation of complex traits within and between populations.
  • Familiarity of molecular and genomic methods to study genetic variation of complex traits.
  • Knowledge of evidence for genetic variation concerning a number of behavioural traits.
  • Awareness of ethical socail implications of advances in generic methods.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to assess claims about genetic determination of behavioural traits in the light of presented evidence from papers and documentaries.
  • Evaluate the relative importance of different kinds of genetic evidence.
  • Ability to relate advances in genetic techniques to ethical and legal aspects of the possible social consequences.
Key Skills:
  • Ability to identify claims made in written scientific reports and documentaries.
  • Critically evaluate the logic of arguements of written scientific reports and documentaries.
  • Extract evidence that is presented to document scientific arguements.
  • Evaluate the validity of presented evidence.
  • Identify relevant scientific information on the web and in the library.
  • Defend a certain scientific position in a group discussion.
  • Report on the arguements and counter arguements of a scientific discussion.

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

  • In the lectures the topics mentioned above will be explained and references will be provided providing guidance for further study.
  • Tutorials will (a) allow students to participate critical evaluation of a number of traits that have been the subject of study during the last decade (b) facilitate exploring issues that are particularly significant to the individual and therefore further increase motivation.
  • One of the objectives of this module is to achieve an understanding of the modular and population genetic techniques involved.
  • Whereas population genetic techniques can easily be demonstrated through regular classroom teaching, and hands-on experience can be acquired by means of IT methods.
  • It is not practicable in the context of the aims of this module and the facilities and time available to provide practical experience with laboratory techniques.
  • For a full understanding of the practical aspects of molecular work it will, however, be feasible to make a brief excursion to the genetics laboratory and demonstrate the operation and working of some of the used equipment.
  • Assessment: question concerning the knowledge acquired during this demonstration may appear on the exam.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 5 Irregular intervals 1 hour 6
Seminars 10 Fortnightly 1 hour 20
Laboratory Visit 1 2 hours
Preparation and Reading 174
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
two-hour examination 100%
Component: Summative "Critiques" Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
1000 word Critique 1 50%
1000 word Critique 2 50%

Formative Assessment:

Tutorial write-up Michaelmas - 500 words, tutorial write-up Epiphany - 500 words.

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