Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)


Department: Anthropology


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2007/08


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide students with a detailed knowledge of the primate and hominin fossil record and its contextual associations.
  • To acquaint them with differing approaches to the study of evolutionary diversity and their associated methods, analytical techniques and theoretical frameworks.
  • To promote their critical and interpretative skills through the study of current substantive issues in the subject and to develop their ability to evaluate alternative kinds of evidence and competing interpretations.


  • The evolutionary context of fossils: primate and hominin diversity and systematics
  • Approaches to phyletic inference and phyletic weighting exemplified by analysis of fossil primate and hominin diversity
  • Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction, and ecological approaches to primate and hominin phylogeny and adaptation
  • Models of primate and hominin evolution

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An advanced knowledge of palaeoanthropology
  • Applying an evolutionary perspective to studies of the primate and hominin fossil record
  • Consideration of models of phylogenetic and functional analysis of palaeoanthropological data.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to search for relevant articles and analyse the recent literature
  • Ability to synthesise, critically evaluate and present complex anthropological material, including data, models and theoretical arguments
Key Skills:
  • Students should be able to express themselves clearly and concisely on technical topics, and explain why particular issues are important and/or controversial

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

  • Lectures, seminars, practicals. Lectures give students summaries of the key positions and arguments of important authors. Tutorials will allow them to interrogate the assumptions of these authors. Practicals give students hands-on experience with primate and hominin fossil casts.
  • Final written examinations test assimilated knowledge and understanding and the ability to write succinctly and analytically at short notice.
  • Formative assessment is given for two essays.
  • Formative feedback is given for tutorial presentations.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 weekly 1 hr 22
Tutorials 2 1 per term (M&Ep) 1 hr 2
Practicals 2 1 per term(M&Ep) 2 hr 4
Preparation and reading time 272
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: exam Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
exam 3 hr 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment is given for two essays. Formative feedback is given for tutorial presentations

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