Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024

Module PSYC3621: Evolution, Culture and Behaviour in Humans and Other Primates

Department: Psychology

PSYC3621: Evolution, Culture and Behaviour in Humans and Other Primates

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap 140 Location Durham


  • Modules to the value of 60 credits from Psychology Level 2


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To present evolutionary theory as it is applied to human behaviour and to demonstrate how the theory and attendant research can contribute to the scientific understanding of behaviour.


  • This module examines the application of cultural and biological evolutionary principles to the understanding of human and nonhuman primate behaviour
  • It will introduce biological evolution with a focus on natural and sexual selection and the different forms of evolutionary behavioural sciences.
  • It will also examine cultural evolution including cumulative culture and social learning, and cross-cultural methods in Psychology and Anthropology.
  • It will address a number of psychological and behavioural phenomena, which will vary from year to year but are likely to include mate choice, parental care, kin selection, same-sex competition, primate behavioural ecology, brain and language evolution, primate cognition and behaviour, comparative primate psychology.
  • The module will also cover related conceptual and historical issues in psychology and related fields in biology and anthropology

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Detailed knowledge of evolutionary approaches to human behaviour and that of other primates, including current theory and evidence.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to review critically and consolidate understanding of a coherent body of psychological knowledge and apply it appropriately
Key Skills:
  • Good written communication skills
  • Good IT skills in word processing, data manipulation and data presentation
  • Ability to work independently in scholarship and research within broad guidelines

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

  • Students' acquisition of detailed knowledge will be facilitated by lectures, some small group work, audio-visual materials, discussions and detailed reading lists
  • These modes of teaching provide students with detailed knowledge of the key theories and the skills needed to evaluate different theoretical positions in light of current evidence
  • The summative exam and essay will assess students' detailed subject knowledge
  • The use of group discussions / small group work will ensure that students are exposed to a range of different theoretical positions, and encouraged to understand their inter-relations
  • Lectures, discussions and small group work will also give students the opportunity to interpret and evaluate the significance of empirical work
  • The summative exam assesses students' acquired knowledge of theoretical principles and empirical studies and their ability to organise and synthesise them coherently and critically in written form in response to a set question
  • The use of a summative written examination will ensure that students' written communication skills are assessed enter text as appropriate for the module

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 per week 2 hours 44
Preparation and Reading 156
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Examination Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 2 hours 100%
Component: Summative Assessment Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Essay 2000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:


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