Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)


Department: Anthropology


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Human Origins and Diversity (ANTH1071).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To establish some principal areas of intellectual interest and practical application of biological anthropology.
  • It is a biologically-based module which nonetheless emphasises aspects of social concern, especially in relation to health and disease.
  • It covers the various theories, ideas and approaches used by biological anthropologists in their research.


  • Topics include human adaptability and climatic stress.
  • Disease ecology.
  • Biosocial patterns of human health and disease, genetics and migration.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Factual material: Mendelian and non-Mendelian inheritance.
  • chromosomes and their abnormalities.
  • description and analysis of human genomic variation.
  • inbreeding and genetic disease.
  • genes in populations and microevolution.
  • Human adaptation and adaptability in response to climatic stressors.
  • ecology of infectious and non-infectious diseases.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Familiarity with the key methods and concepts of biological anthropology.
  • Understanding the linkages between human biology and society as relevant to health.
  • Understanding of the technical vocabularies of biological science as these apply to anthropology.
  • Practical skills in the collection and analysis of biological data.
  • Ability to analyse critically and evaluate biological anthropological literature and arguments.
Key Skills:
  • Integrate and evaluate a range of information and data from primary and secondary sources.
  • Identify, analyse, interpret and solve problems creatively.
  • Search information sources effectively (e.g. libraries, archives) and find information.
  • use academic literature effectively.
  • Use information technology and associated computational tools and packages (word processing, spreadsheets, databases, etc.).
  • Structure and communicate ideas effectively in writing.

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

  • Students are expected to attend the weekly lectures and are required to attend the four two-hour practicals during the year.
  • In addition to lectures, practical sessions will cover topics in human health, human genetics and population genetics.
  • 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 practicals, geared to the specific needs of the material.
  • The lectures and practicals are carefully integrated.
  • Audio-visual aids, including videos, 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 biological 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 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.
  • They are used for the primary delivery of material in human genetics and ecological issues because they allow clear transmission of information in an active learning environment where students can question and seek clarification.
  • Practicals provide an opportunity for students to discuss a series of topics.
  • Practicals will cover topics relevant to the content of the module.
  • Practicals imply a higher degree of student involvement and teach subject-specific and generic skills.
  • Considerable use of genealogical analysis is used to teach aspects of genetics such as Mendelian and mitochondrial inheritance, the quantification of biological relationship and the estimation of inbreeding.
  • The rationale for this approach is that genealogy is familiar to students and this familiarity helps them to proceed with confidence towards what many perceive as the daunting challenge of genetics.
  • 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, while final written examinations test assimilated knowledge and understanding and the ability to write succinctly and analytically at short notice.
  • Summative Assessment is a two hour written examination (70%) and one essay in Epiphany Term of approximately 2,000 words (30% total), counting towards summative assessment.
  • Formative assessment takes the form of an essay plan.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 1 per week 1 hour 21
Practicals 4 2 each first two tems 2 hours 8
Preparation and Reading 171
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
two hour written examination 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
essay in Epiphany Term of approximately 2000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative feedback on an essay plan and on summative work.

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