Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2009-2010 (archived)

Module ANTH3171: Recent Developments in Biological Anthropology

Department: Anthropology

ANTH3171: Recent Developments in Biological Anthropology

Type Tied Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Module Cap Location Durham
Tied to L602
Tied to LF64
Tied to LL36
Tied to CFG0
Tied to LMV0


  • Evolutionary Anthropology (ANTH2061) OR Human Ecology, Genetics and Health (ANTH2011). Pass at Level 2 in Human Sciences (Biological Anthropology)


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • A module exploring some current issues in biological anthropology.
  • It comprises two distinct components on different topics, depending on the research interests of the staff teaching the module.
  • It explores in depth the various ways biological anthropologists and major thinkers in related disciplines have approached these topics.


  • The module is designed both to enhance students' knowledge of biological anthropology and to introduce them to some of the most recent theoretical developments.
  • Topics may include: Evolution of Behaviour, Genetic approaches to Anthropology, Primate and Human Behaviour, Evolutionary Theory, Disease and Populations.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Factual material: Students will have a thorough awareness of the intellectual topography related to selected current issues in biological anthropology.
  • Have a demonstrable in-depth knowledge of certain key issues in biological anthropology.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Be familiar with, and ability to demonstrate, links and differences between the ideas and approaches adopted by various biological anthropologists.
  • To find relevant information and utilise biological anthropological sources effectively.
  • Able to evaluate and critically analyse biological anthropological and related literature.
  • To present a coherent demonstration of the theoretical implications of different arguments within biological anthropology.
Key Skills:
  • To discern and establish connections between intellectual arguments.
  • To identify and research a problem independently and explore it.
  • To construct an effective argument that demonstrates an awareness of the subtlety and complexity of selected theoretical issues.
  • Demonstrate an ability to explore the issues rigorously in writing.
  • Integrate and evaluate a range of information and data from published research.

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

  • The formal components of the module use a range of teaching modes and methods, within an integrated framework to contribute to the intended learning outcomes as listed above.
  • The module benefits from a balance between lectures and seminars, geared to the specific needs of the material.
  • The lectures and seminars are carefully integrated.
  • Audio-visual aids (videos, slides, summaries and diagrams on overhead projection sheets etc.) are used where appropriate.
  • The informal components of the module utilise a variety of methods, including posting course documents and information on DUO, seminar presentations and associated oral discussions.
  • Lectures will cover topics relevant for providing students with an understanding of theories currently available for the study of recent developments in biologicall anthropology.
  • Lectures provide a traditional method of communicating not only fact but clear understandings of process and the relationship between issues.
  • They are used for the primary delivery of material in current issues in biological anthropology because they allow clear transmission of information in an active learning environment where students can question and seek clarification.
  • Lectures introduce students to issues, structure the subject matter and provide a grounding in principal issues so they can progress to further learning and study.
  • Lectures provide the framework for analysis and relevant background, theoretical and/or historical information, and are used to assist in the assimilation of technically demanding or conceptually difficult material.
  • Seminars provide an opportunity for students to discuss a series of topics and to make oral presentations.
  • Difficult, sensitive and unresolved issues can all be approached successfully through discussion in seminars.
  • Seminars will cover topics relevant to the content of the module.
  • Seminars imply a higher degree of student involvement and teach subject-specific and generic skills.
  • For anthropology students this medium cannot simply be replaced by texts or websites, though both are important adjuncts.
  • Summative essays test skills of understanding, analysis, information collection and presentation.
  • Formative assessment takes place on a regular basis and may be regarded an integral part of the day-to-day teaching process.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 per week 1 hour 22
Seminars 4 Twice per term in Michaelmas and Epiphany 1 hour 4
Preparation and Reading 174
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essays Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
essay 1 3000 words approx 50%
essay 2 3000 words approx 50%

Formative Assessment:

Essay plans submitted and returned with comments. Students also receive regular feedback on their progress in seminars

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