Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)


Department: Anthropology


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap None.
Tied to C9K609
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 ethnicity and health, infectious diseases (e.g. HIV/AIDS, emerging infections), the increase in an ageing population with health issues, and vaccine development among other topics. An evolutionary perspective will be emphasised and will be contrasted with more clinical perspectives. Students will acquire an advanced understanding of evolutionary theories surrounding various pathologies and will be expected to read and criticise primary and secondary literature.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • To develop a good understanding of evolutionary theory
  • To understand at advanced level the theoretical and practical contributions of evolutionary medicine as applied to a number of pathologies.
  • To understand at advanced level a number of evolutionary and ecological models of human diseases and how these have practical benefits for improving medical care
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Application of evolutionary and ecological approaches to contemporary health problems.
  • Ability to recognise and promote the practical benefits of Evolutionary Approaches to health.
Key Skills:
  • To complete written essays under examination conditions.
  • To develop skills in writing an abstract based on a longer piece of work.
  • To write critical reports using the relevant primary and secondary literature.
  • To develop the ability to work independently to identify and critique primary literature.
  • To develop skills in oral presentation

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

  • There will be an introductory one-hour Seminar followed by two-hour seminars run on a fortnightly basis. The format of the seminars will vary. Some will be student-led, others will be instructor-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. Independent reading and learning will reinforce the Learning Outcomes. ’There will be an individual assessment comprising a Powerpoint poster based on a topic of choice (50%) and a final two-hour exam (50%).

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 7 weekly 2 hours 14
Seminars 1 beginning 1 hour 1
Group presentation 1 end 2 hours 2
Preparation and Reading ongoing 133
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: PowerPoint Poster Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
This will comprise a critical presentation using an evolutionary approaches to a specific health issue chosen by the student 100%
Component: Take-home Examination, short answer questions. Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Take-home 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment will be: a) to write a formal abstract of 250 words using a journal paper supplied, and b) initial draft of the Powerpoint Poster.

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