Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)


Department: Anthropology


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide a broad overview of the fossil and recent evidence for human variation, evolution and adaptation and prepare students for further critical study of biological anthropology.


  • Selection and heredity
  • Adaptation and adaptability as components of human success.
  • Evolutionary principles and mechanisms.
  • The primates: primate ecology and adaptive diversity.
  • Humans as primates.
  • Hominin origins, hominin features.
  • Hominin evolution: temporal and environmental contexts.
  • Early hominins: Australopithecus, early Homo.
  • Later human evolution: Homo erectus and Homo sapiens.
  • Functional, archaeological and behavioural aspects of human evolution.
  • Human adaptability and climatic response.
  • Human variation and its components.
  • Intra- and inter-group differences, patterns of human diversity and their categorisation.
  • Evolution, selection and adaptation in contemporary human populations.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Factual Material: become cognisant of various forms of evidence for human variation, evolution and adaptation.
  • Familiar with basic technical biological/evolutionary terminology.
  • Aware of basic comparative primate osteology and its application to fossil material.
  • Understand some of the fundamental concepts of biological anthropology.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Read texts with a basic understanding of the purposes of bio-anthropological research.
  • Use bio-anthropological data to address elementary questions in humane evolution.
  • Present basic biological information in a clear, assimilated form.
  • Familiarly with some of the key methods of evolutionary and palaeontological study.
Key Skills:
  • Write a basic essay.
  • Conduct a search to find basic material on a given subject, using both print and electronic resources.
  • Apply some key concepts and methods of the biological sciences.

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

  • The module provides a broad overview of the fossil evidence for human evolution but no prior knowledge of the subject is assumed.
  • The module will be taught through weekly lectures, videos, and compulsory practical and tutorial classes.
  • Students are required to attend six practicals and three tutorials during the year.
  • 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.
  • The module benefits from a balance between lectures and practicals, geared to the specific needs of the material.
  • The lectures and practicals are carefully integrated.
  • Audio-visual aids (videos, slides, summaries and diagrams) are used where appropriate.
  • The informal components of the module utilise a variety of methods, including posting course documents and information on DUO, practical presentations and associated oral discussions.
  • Lectures will cover topics relevant for providing students with an understanding of theories currently available for the study of human origins and diversity.
  • 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 human origins and diversity because they allow clear transmission of information in an active learning environment where students can ask questions 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.
  • Practicals and tutorials provide an opportunity for students to discuss a series of topics.
  • Difficult, sensitive and unresolved issues can all be approached successfully through discussion in practicals and tutorials.
  • Practicals will cover topics relevant to the content of the module and take a hands-on approach to learning, utilising comparative human and non-human primate skeletal material.
  • Practicals 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.
  • Formative essays test skills of understanding, analysis, information collection and presentation, while final written examinations test assimilated knowledge and understanding and the ability to write succinctly and analytically at short notice.
  • 100% of the assessment will come from a two hour written examination in May/June.
  • Students are required to submit two essays, one in Michaelmas Term and one in Epiphany Term for formative assessment.
  • Formative assessment also 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
Tutorials 3 1 hour 3
Practicals 6 1 hour 6
Preparation and Reading 169
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Examination 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Two 2000 word essays, one in the Michaelmas term and one in the 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