Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)


Department: Anthropology


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Evolutionary Anthropology (ANTH2061) OR Human Ecology, Genetics & Health (ANTH2011). Prerequisite for Human Sciences students: Evolutionary Issues (HUSS 2301).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide students with detailed knowledge of the primate and hominin fossil record and its contexts.
  • To acquaint them with alternative approaches to its study, and differing interpretations, models and perspectives of primate and hominin evolution.
  • To encourage informed and rigorous cross-disciplinary perspectives on primate and hominin evolution.


  • Late Miocene to Pleistocenc hominin evolution.
  • Approaches to interpreting hominin anatomy and behaviour in the fossil record.
  • Chronological, geological, archaeological and palaeoenvironmental contexts of hominin evolution.
  • Hominin diversity and systematics
  • Ecological, adaptive and behavioural modes of primate and hominin morphology and behaviour.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Factual Material: Acquire a detailed knowledge of the hominid fossil record and its contexts, informed by recent research findings.
  • Be aware of the range of data that may contribute to reconstructions of hominin evolution, and advanced knowledge of selected aspects.
  • Awareness of models of evolutionary patternsand processes and their interplay, as exemplified by the hominid fossil record.
  • Detailed familiarity with interpretations of selected aspects of hominin adaptation and behaviour, and the range of evidence and models that can contribute to these.
  • Be familiar with the specialist literature on hominin evolution, understand its common terminology (excluding detailed anatomical terms) and concepts.
  • Be acquainted with the major research journals in the subject, familiar with aspects of their contents, and able to conduct a bibliographical search of these resources.
  • To be able to communicate effectively by written means, on a selected topic within the subject.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Be able to evaluate interpretations, models and scenarios of hominin evolution.
  • Be able to integrate relevant fossil, archaeological and contextual evidence into appropriate reconstructions of hominin adaptation and ecology.
Key Skills:
  • Be able to critically evaluate competing interpretations & hypotheses, and differentiate between evidence, models and interpretations, and the theoretical perspectives that influence these.
  • Be able to integrate varied data and evidence into plausible interpretations, and comment upon their relative merits and weaknesses.
  • To write an essay of appropriate standard and range displaying familiarity with recent research findings on a selected topic.
  • To display competence in word processing and, where appropriate, web search and data analysis of relevant material.

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, tutorials, seminars and lab practicals, geared to the specific needs of the material.
  • The lectures, tutorials, seminars and lab practicals are carefully integrated.
  • Audio-visual aids (video, sound, powerpoint etc.) are used where appropriate.
  • The module utilises a variety of methods, including tutorial and seminar presentations, associated oral discussions and hands-on lab exercises.
  • Lectures will cover topics relevant for providing students with an understanding of theories currently available for the study of hominin evolution.
  • Lectures provide a traditional method of communicating not only fact but clear understandings of process and the relationships between issues.
  • They are used for the primary delivery of material in hominin evolution 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.
  • Students are expected to attend the weekly lectures.
  • Students are required to attend approximately 6 tutorials, 2 seminars and six practicals during the year.
  • Tutorials and 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.
  • Tutorialsand seminars will cover topics relevant to the content of the module.
  • Tutorials/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.
  • Readings for the module will be built around journal articles, edited papers and monographs rather than a textbook .
  • Summative essays test skills of understanding, analysis, information collection and presentation, while a final written examination tests assimilated knowledge and understanding and the ability to write succinctly and analytically at short notice.
  • Summative assessment by a two hour and a half hour written examination (60%) and two essays each of 2,500 words (40% total), one at the end of Michaelmas Term, and one at the end of Epiphany Term.
  • Formative assessment takes place on a regular basis and may be regarded an integral part of the day-to-day teaching process.
  • Formative feedback is given on Summative essays, as well as on two seminar and two tutorial presentations, scheduled at appropriate times.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 per week 1 hour 22
Tutorials 4 2 per term (Michaelmas, Epiphany) 1 hour 4
Seminars 2 `1 per term (Michaelmas, Epiphany) 1 hour 2
Practicals 7 7 over 3 terms 1 hour 7
Preparation and Reading 165
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written examination 2.5 hours 100%
Component: Essays Component Weighting: 40%%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 in Michaelmas term 2500 words 50%
Essay 2 in Epiphany term 2500 words 50%

Formative Assessment:

Feedback on summative essays and presentations during tutorials and 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