Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)


Department: Anthropology


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Module Cap
Tied to L6K507


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To examine contemporary health problems using evolutionary and ecological perspectives.


  • The course will consider a number of health issues of importance in low-income and more affluent contexts, including child health, infectious disease (e.g. HIV/AIDS, emerging infections), non-infectious disease (e.g. type 2 diabetes/allergies) and reproductive health (e.g. the menopause). The importance of an ecological perspective will be emphasised and the paradigm of evolutionary medicine will be explored, including life history and parental investment theories. Students will acquire an advanced understanding of these theories and will be expected to read and criticise recent primary literature.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Main theoretical approaches in nutritional and disease ecology.
  • The main contributions of evolutionary medicine.
  • Evolutionary and ecological models of human reproduction.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Application of the above approaches to contemporary health problems.
  • Read specialist literature within the fields of nutritional ecology, disease ecology and evolutionary medicine.
Key Skills:
  • Complete written essays under examination conditions.
  • Ability to work independently to identify and critique primary literature.

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

  • There will be a one-hour seminar each week. The format of the seminars will vary. Some will be student-led, others will be tutor-led.
  • Students will be expected to make presentations as part of some seminars, providing them an opportunity to develop presentation skills in a supportive environment.
  • The coursework assignment tests skills of independent reading, understanding, analysis and presentation.
  • There will be a two hour written examination which will be used to assess students' comprehension of the material covered in the course.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 22 weekly 1 hr 22
Preparation and Reading 278
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Critical Review Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
A critical review of evolutionary approaches to a health issue chosen by the student 2000 words 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment will be an outline plan of 400 words for the critical review, to include a bibliography of the work to be critiqued.

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