Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)


Department: Biosciences


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap Location Durham


  • • Level 1 Organisms and Environment (BIOL1161); Level 1 Genetics (BIOL1171)


  • • At least one other Level 2 Biological Sciences Module

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • • Level 2 Biochemistry (BIOL2491)


  • To study the molecular basis of evolutionary change.
  • To study the processes by which evolutionary change takes place.
  • To relate the diversity of living organisms to the evolutionary processes that promote change and conserve function


  • Genome structure and mutations – the raw material of evolution.
  • Evolving phenotypes and the interaction between evolution and development.
  • How populations evolve by natural selection and genetic drift.
  • The concept of the species and how new species evolve.
  • Interpreting evolutionary histories (phylogenies) and species radiations.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • The nature of mutations and when they may lead to evolutionary change.
  • Knowledge of evolutionary processes in natural populations.
  • Knowledge of the nature of species and the process of speciation.
  • Knowledge of the major patterns of organismal diversity and the mechanisms that determine species radiations.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To be able to understand and apply basic mathematical principles to an understanding of evolutionary processes.
  • To be able to apply evolutionary principles to the classification of biodiversity.
Key Skills:
  • Numeracy, in data analysis, and calculations involved in data handling problems.
  • IT skills, in use of software packages.
  • Communication skills, using the written word and graphics, involved in evolution practical reports.
  • Team work, working in small groups in evolution practical classes.
  • Self-motivation, in self-guided learning.

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

  • Lectures deliver subject-specific knowledge.
  • Workshops reinforce subject-specific knowledge and understanding gained from lectures and the development of key and subject-specific skills.
  • Practical classes allow students to utilise subject-specific knowledge gained from lectures, and support the development of key and subject-specific skills.
  • Tutorials give enhancement of the student learning experience, supporting attainment of all learning outcomes.
  • Self-guided learning contributes to subject-specific knowledge and self-motivation.
  • Practical reports are based on subject-specific knowledge and demonstrate subject-specific skills in carrying out experimental work and data analysis, as well as key skills.
  • • Problem Exercises (Data Handling) demonstrate subject-specific skills in data handling and key skills in numeracy.
  • Unseen examinations demonstrate achievement of the appropriate level of subject-specific knowledge of biochemistry and cell biology, with an emphasis on understanding and communication (essay and problem-based questions) or recall of factual knowledge (multiple choice or short answer question tests).

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 27 Weekly 2 hours p / w 27
Practicals 2 1 per term 4-8 hours 12
Workshops 4 2 per term 2 hours 8
Tutorials 2 1 per term 1 hour 2
Preparation & Reading 151
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Unseen formal examination 2 hours 30 minutes 100% Yes - exam resit
Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Practical report 50% No
Analytical exercise 50% No

Formative Assessment:

Regular formative assessments including data analysis, interpretation and problem solving throughout the module; 4 assessments over 2 terms.

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