Introduction to Evolutionary Processes

University of Reading

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Introduction to Evolutionary Processes

  • Host University

    University of Reading

  • Location

    Reading, England

  • Area of Study


  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
    Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
    Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
    Non-modular pre-requisites:
    Modules excluded:
    Module version for: 2016/7

    Summary module description:
    ? To provide an overview of evolution that is accessible to first year students from diverse backgrounds.
    ? To describe evolutionary processes, emphasising the forces that cause and hinder change, and some of the major patterns that result.
    ? To introduce diverse approaches for the study of genetic and phenotypic evolution.
    ? To demonstrate how evolutionary perspective is fundamental and improves understanding of diverse areas of modern biology.
    ? To introduce students to the process of developing, testing and refining.
    Assessable learning outcomes:
    ? Ability to interpret graphs and figures
    ? Simple calculations in population genetics
    ? Ability to interpret phylogenetic trees

    Knowledge of the following topics:
    ? How natural selection drives biological evolution
    ? How adaptations arise and what limits their perfection
    ? Species concepts; how new species arise; patterns of extinction
    ? How to make and use phylogenies
    ? Selected aspects of the evolutionary history of life on earth
    ? Different methods used to study evolution.
    Additional outcomes:
    ? Quantitative skills ? basic population genetics calculations
    ? Data analysis skills ? turning data into a phylogeny, basic interpretation of phylogenies
    Outline content:
    1 Explaining Biological Diversity; What Is Population Genetics (LJ)
    2 Misconceptions about Evolution; Variation in Populations (LJ)
    3 Adaptations; Natural Selection (LJ)
    4 Maladaptations; Units of selection and conflicts between them (LJ)
    5 Quantitative traits (LJ)
    6 Phylogenies (LJ)
    7 Symbiosis and coevolution (RW)
    8 Sexual selection and sexual conflict (RW)
    9 Species concepts and speciation (RW)
    10 Case studies; Q&A session (RW, LJ)

    Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
    There will be two 50 minute lectures each week, plus three workshop / practicals on problem-solving and data analysis. The Blackboard site will provide further reading and handouts for lectures and quizzes. There will also be optional drop-in tutorials.

    Contact hours:
    Lectures- 20
    Tutorials- 4
    Practicals classes and workshops- 6
    Guided independent study- 170
    Total hours by term- 200

    Summative Assessment Methods:
    Written exam- 50%
    Written assignment including essay- 20%
    Class test administered by School- 30%

    Other information on summative assessment:
    1) Online test based on content and skills learned in the population genetics practical and the phylogeny practical (30%)
    2) Short written assignment involving some group work (20%)

    Formative assessment methods:
    Tutored evolutionary and phylogenetic problem-solving session in practical 2
    Formative online test on interpretation of graphs and figures from evolutionary biology studies

    Length of examination:
    One and a half hours

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August/September only

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.


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