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


  • Completion of Level 2 Human Sciences/Health and Human Sciences OR Biological Anthropology I (ANTH2061) OR Biological Anthropology II (ANTH2011) OR Stage 1 MBBS.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To expose students to the perspective of evolutionary medicine and to encourage the critical appraisal of western biomedicine in the light of evolutionary theory.


  • Evolutionary medicine takes the view that many contemporary health issues are related to an incompatibility between the lifestyles and environments in which humans currently live and the conditions under which human biology evolved.
  • This module explores the ways in which questions about health and disease can be reframed in consideration of an evolutionary perspective and new suggestions about treatment can be made.
  • Specific areas to be covered include reproductive health (e.g. fertility, post-natal depression, menopause), infant health (e.g. colic, jaundice, SIDS, infant sleep, breastfeeding), chronic disease (e.g. breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, allergies).

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should be able to: Understand and explain the application of evolutionary perspectives to a variety of contemporary health issues.
  • Understand the value of a cross-cultural perspective in informing evolutionary medicine.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Articulate how an evolutionary perspective to health might inform current health care practices and interventions and synthesise material.
  • Be able to evaluate evolutionary explanations of health issues and be able to articulate how these may be tested.
Key Skills:
  • Problem solving.
  • Research design.
  • Ability to engage in discussion and debate on theoretical and practical issues.
  • Ability to present written summaries of debates and argue for a particular perspective using research based evidence.

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

  • Seminars will introduce a different health issue each session and present students with various examples of evolutionary interpretations.
  • Seminars will guide students to further reading on each area.
  • Tutorials (small group teaching) will use a problem solving approach in which students will present the results of their own in depth reading to explore topics of 'received biomedical wisdom' using evolutionary perspectives.
  • Formative and summative class-write-ups will be used to consolidate students' ability to explain and articulate evolutionary perspectives on health.
  • Summative exam will be used to assess students ability to explain and synthesise their understanding of this topic.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 6 2 per term 1 hour 6
Seminars 20 10 in Michaelmas Term, 10 in Epiphany / Easter Term 1 hour 20
Preparation and Reading 174
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
examination 100%
Component: Tutorial write-ups Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
tutorial write-up 1 50%
tutorial write-up 2 50%

Formative Assessment:

Two tutorial write-ups, 500 words each.

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