Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)

Module ANTH42815: Evolutionary Psychology

Department: Anthropology

ANTH42815: Evolutionary Psychology

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2014/15 Module Cap


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce students to advanced topics in evolutionary theory as it relates to human behaviour
  • To compare and contrast different evolutionary approaches to understanding human behaviour, including those that focus on human universals and those that focus on variability
  • Special regard is paid to understanding key theoretical concepts and how these may be applied to experimental and observational studies of human behaviour.


  • Principles of evolutionary psychology and human behavioural ecology
  • Human mating strategies, including mate choice and intra-sexual competition
  • Evolution of human cooperation
  • Ecological influences on adaptive human behaviour
  • Evolutionary perspectives on the human brain and cognitive structure

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A firm grasp of the theoretical bases of evolutionary approaches to understanding human behaviour.
  • An advanced understanding of how theoretical approaches have been applied to human behaviour, including an appreciation of the strengths and limitations of both the theories and the empirical evidence relating to them
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An ability to understand, critically examine and discuss the relevant literature, including evaluation of the strengths and limitations of theoretical models, quality of data, and the way that evidence is handled
  • Ability to think creatively and rigorously about how theory and evidence could be strengthened
Key Skills:
  • Presentation skills based on the preparation and delivery of oral presentations of key points in set topics.
  • Essay writing based on independent reading used to address novel issues at an advanced level.
  • Students should be able to express themselves clearly and concisely on technical topics, and explain why particular issues are important and/or controversial

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

  • Seminars. Seminars centred on student presentations allow students to interrogate the primary literature and key arguments of important topics in evolutionary psychology.
  • Final written examinations test assimilated knowledge and understanding and the ability to write succinctly and analytically at short notice.
  • Formative assessment is given on one essay plan.
  • Formative feedback is given for seminar presentations

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 11 weekly 1 hour 11
Revision class 1 once 1 hour 1
Preparation & Reading 138
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Exam Component Weighting: 67%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Exam 2 hours 100%
Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 33%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Presentation file 1,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment is given for one essay plan. Formative feedback is given for seminar presentations

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