Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)


Department: Anthropology


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2014/15 Module Cap
Tied to L6K707
Tied to L6K307
Tied to C9K609


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide students with a detailed knowledge of hominin evolution and its ecological, geographical and geological contextual associations,
  • To acquaint students with palaeoecological theory as it applies to the hominin fossil record.
  • To acquaint students with differing approaches to the study of evolutionary diversity and their associated methods, analytical techniques and theoretical frameworks,
  • To promote critical and interpretative skills through the study of current substantive issues in the subject and to develop an ability to evaluate alternative kinds of evidence and competing interpretations.


  • Hominin evolution and diversity
  • Hominin morphological and behavioural adaptations
  • Palaeoenvironmental context of Plio-Pleistocene hominin evolution
  • Methods for reconstructing past habits
  • Mammalian functional morphology
  • Growth and development in hominin and mammalian evolution

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An advanced knowledge of palaeoanthropology and palaeoecology
  • Applying an evolutionary perspective to studies of the hominin and non-hominin mammal fossil record
  • Consideration of phylogenetic and functional analysis of palaeoanthropological and palaeontological data
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to search for relevant articles and analyse the recent literature
  • Ability to synthesise, critically evaluate and present complex scientific material including data, interpretive models and theoretical arguments
Key Skills:
  • 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 allow students to interrogate the key positions and arguments of important authors.
  • Practicals give students hands-on experience with hominin fossil casts and methods for analysing fossil remains. They also provide a milieu in which issues of practical importance to the study of hominin evolution can be discussed.
  • Two summative essays assess assimilated knowledge, the ability to write analytically and the ability to think independently about palaeoanthropological and palaeoecological issues.
  • Formative assessment is given for one essay abstract.
  • Formative feedback is given for seminar presentations.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminar 10 weekly 1hr 10
Practicals 5 fortnightly 1hr 5
Preparation & reading time 135
Total 10 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Time essay Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
essay during practical session 1 hour 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 75%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
essay 2500 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment is given for a 500 word abstract for the 2500 word essay; topic to be devised by the student and agreed with the module organiser. Formative feedback is also given in response to 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