Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)

Module ANTH40015: Advanced Evolutionary Medicine: Reproduction and Infant Health

Department: Anthropology

ANTH40015: Advanced Evolutionary Medicine: Reproduction and Infant Health

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2007/08


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This module encourages students to explore the perspectives 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 and 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 reproductive and infant health and disease can be reframed using an evolutionary perspective. Areas to be covered include reproductive health (e.g. fertility, pregnancy loss, menopause) and infant health (e.g. colic, jaundice, SIDS, infant sleep, breastfeeding).

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Understand and explain the application of evolutionary perspectives to a variety of contemporary reproductive and infant health issues
  • Understand the value of a cross-cultural perspective in informing evolutionary medicine
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Be able to evaluate evolutionary explanations of health issues and be able to articulate how these might be tested
  • Synthesise evolutionary theory with contemporary understandings of reproductive and infant health
Key Skills:

    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 require students to apply evolutionary interpretations. Students will be required to prepare by reading recommended texts. There will be an emphasis on the reading and critical appraisal of primary research literature at this advanced level of the module.
    • Tutorials will use a problem solving approach in which students will present the results of their own in-depth reading to explore topics of 'received medical wisdom' using evolutionary perspectives and themes. Students at the advanced stage level will attend tutorials singly or in pairs to allow for in-depth discussion.
    • Formative essays will be used to consolidate students' ability to explain and articulate evolutionary perspectives on reproductive and infant health issues, and to link underlying themes, in preparation for the exam.
    • The summative exam will be used to assess students' ability to explain and synthesize 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 weekly during first 20 teaching weeks 1 hour 20
    Preparation and Reading 124
    Total 150

    Summative Assessment

    Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Examination 3 hours 100%

    Formative Assessment:

    One 2000 word essay in Michaelmas term. One 2000 word essay in Epiphany term.

    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