APS 220 Evolutionary Biology

Level 2
Semester 1A
Credits 10
Pre/Co Requisites APS125 Genes in Populations
Recommended Requsites -
Teaching Staff Dr Nicola Nadeau, Dr Alison Wright, Dr Chris Cooney
Co-ordinator Dr Nicola Nadeau


This module will:

- Provide an understanding of evolutionary concepts illustrated by appropriate and timely examples.
- Show how an appreciation of evolutionary principles is crucial to our understanding of biology.
- Demonstrate that evolutionary biology is an active area of research where data and argument support alternative interpretations.


This course will describe major concepts in evolutionary biology, illustrated with a wide range of examples that cut across taxa. The course will address major evolutionary themes, including micro-evolutionary and macro-evolutionary processes, using evolution as an explanatory framework – at levels of biological organization ranging from genomes to communities. Population genetics concepts are briefly summarised, with particular attention to the persistence of genetic variation. Examples of microevolution will be used to show that evolution is a continuous and ongoing process. Species concepts and theories of speciation will be discussed and illustrated by examples. Sexual selection, with particular attention to female choice, will be considered and characterised with recent examples from the literature. Evolutionary conflict and cooperation will be discussed, as will the paradox of sex. The connection between evolution and development will be explored, particularly linking microevolution and macroevolution. Other topics such as life history evolution and phylogenetic analysis, will be considered. This course places an emphasis on recent literature and both directed and external reading is expected.

Delivery method: 18 lectures

Assessment Method: 1 1/2 hour examination. Essay type questions

Lectures schedule: The Powerpoint presentations for each lecture are downloadable as pdf files from MOLE, usually after the lecture takes place. While the presentations should provide the basic information necessary to understand a concept, additional work such as notes during lectures, background reading using the recommended course text book, available in the library, and both directed and external reading will be necessary.

FEEDBACK: Students can receive feedback on performance in examinations by arranging a meeting with their personal tutor after mid-March.

Please go to Blackboard for more information on APS220

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