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: completion of Level 2 BSc Human Sciences.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To develop in students a critical and up to date understanding of evolutionary models of behaviour, including human behaviour, with particular focus on mating and rearing strategies, socio-ecology, co-operation and cognitive evolution.
  • To prepare undergraduates for Level Four modules and research in behavioural ecology and evolutionary anthropology.


  • Principles of social evolution: behavioural evolution; natural selection; studying adaptation
  • Behavioural ecology; Evolutionary Psychology; Cultural evolution
  • Evolution of mating & rearing strategies
  • Life History Theory
  • Socio-ecology
  • Evolution of cooperation

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Factual material: Be familiar with the key methods and concepts of evolutionary biology as applied to social behaviour.
  • Be familiar with a range of examples from studies of humans and non-human animals, illustrating, and in some cases contradicting, the theoretical models.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to understand and evaluate evolutionary models and their application to human behaviour.
  • Understanding of the technical vocabularies of biological science as these apply to the study of behaviour and anthropology.
  • Ability to critically analyse and evaluate biological and bio-social literature and arguments.
Key Skills:
  • Problem-solving skills: identify, analyse, interpret and solve intellectual problems creatively.
  • Assess the value and limits of data and make critical judgements of the merits of particular arguments, including ability to reason critically and challenge received conclusions about topics and controversies.
  • Summarise and defend an interpretation of a controversy.
  • Ability to interpret both qualitative and quantitative data.
  • Search information sources effectively (e.g. libraries, archives) and find information.
  • use academic literature effectively.
  • Structure and communicate ideas effectively both in writing and orally: ability to prepare reports and give presentations using visual aids.

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 and seminars, geared to the specific needs of the material.
  • The lectures and seminars are carefully integrated.
  • Audio-visual aids (video, sound, slides, powerpoint etc.) are used where appropriate.
  • The informal components of the module utilise a variety of methods, including e-mail discussion groups, seminar presentations and associated oral discussions.
  • Lectures will cover topics relevant for providing students with an understanding of theories currently available for the study of social evolution.
  • 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 social 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 and are required to attend four seminars during the year.
  • 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.
  • Seminars will cover topics relevant to the content of the module.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Students are required to submit one essay of 2,500 words which will contribute 30% towards your total mark for the module.
  • The remaining 70% will come from a two and a quarter hour (2.25 hr) written examination in May/June.
  • Students have the option of participating in an e-mail conference ,and are required to make seminar presentations.
  • 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.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 1 per week 1 hour 21
Seminars 4 2 per term (Michaelmas & Epiphany) 1 hour 4
E-mail conference 2 1 per term (Michaelmas & Epiphany) continuous
Preparation and Reading 175
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
two-and-a-quarter-hour written examination in May/June 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
essay 2,500 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative feedback on summative essay plans.

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