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 develop awareness and understanding of evolutionary biology as applied to primates, including humans.
  • To introduce concepts and methods in comparative and phylogenetic analysis.
  • To describe the major primate radiations in terms of morphology, life historical processes, and behavioural ecology.


  • Topics include:
  • The Primate radiation.
  • Behavioural ecology of primates.
  • Primate Evolution.
  • Hominid Evolution and behaviour.
  • Functional systems in primate and human evolution.
  • Life history patterns.
  • Natural selection, adaptation, and evolution.
  • Evolution of reproductive systems and the brain.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Factual material: Theoretical and methodological foundations: mechanisms of evolution, principles of phylogenetic reconstruction, the study of adaptation, comparative and observational methods in primatology.
  • Primate anatomy: morphological definition of primate taxa, major evolutionary radiations, functional morphology, functional significance of human anatomy.
  • Primate behaviour: behavioural ecology of major taxa, evolution of behaviour patterns, interaction of behaviour and morphology, functional significance of human behaviour.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Familiarity with the key methods and concepts of evolutionary anthropology.
  • Understanding of the technical vocabularies of biological science as these apply to anthropology.
  • Practical skills in the analysis of biological specimens and data.
  • Ability to analyse critically and evaluate evolutionary 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, both in essays and technical reports.

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 and practical sessions will cover topics in human and primate anatomy relating structure and function, and behavioural ecology.
  • 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 (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, practical discussions and e-mail correspondence.
  • 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.
  • Practicals 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 practicals.
  • 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.
  • 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-and-a-quarter hour written examination (70%) and one essay in Epiphany Term of approximately 2,500 words (30% total), counting towards summative assessment.
  • Completed practical sheets are self-marked by reference to keys posted on DUO.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 per week 1 hour 22
Practicals 4 2 per term 2 hours 8
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
two-and-a-quarter hour written examination 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
2500 word essay 100%

Formative Assessment:

Practical keys are provided on Duo. Formative feedback on summative essay.

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