MODULE DESCRIPTION 2017-18

SPRING SEMESTER 15 CREDITS
AAP6154 HUMAN EVOLUTION: THEORY AND PRACTICE IN RESEARCH
CO-ORDINATOR: KEVIN KUYKENDALL
OTHER TUTORS:

MODULE OUTLINE

This seminar module will present both historical and current issues in the study of human evolution, including new hominid fossil descriptions, debates over interpretations and explanatory models of primate and hominid palaeobiology, theoretical and philosophical topics in evolution, and practical and technological advances in early hominid fossil and archaeological interpretation. In some weeks, students will be required to prepare materials to lead the seminars, and occasional group work exercises will be introduced. The seminar topics will change from year to year to reflect new research, staff projects, guest lecturer availability, and student interests.


BROAD ACADEMIC AIMS AND PRINCIPLES OF THE UNIT

This unit aims to:
• Provide exposure to practical and theoretical concerns in the field of palaeoanthropology through readings, discussion, and group preparation;
• Survey ongoing developments in palaeoanthropological research, and stimulate interest in the dynamic range of research currently conducted in palaeoanthropology and related fields;
• Critically evaluate published interpretations of extinct hominid palaeobiology and their related evolutionary models;
• Provide opportunities for students to present seminar topics and receive feedback on presentation skills and content.


MEASUREABLE LEARNING OUTCOMES

By the end of this module students should be able to demonstrate:
• that they are familiar with recent and ongoing research and issues in the broad field of palaeoanthropology;
• sufficiently detailed knowledge and understanding to discuss and describe essential features of the hominid fossil record in its entirety;
• their understanding and competence in current research methods, theoretical debates, and philosophical issues in palaeoanthropology
• improved presentation skills through practice and feedback provided
• a depth of knowledge in one such issue chosen as the topic of their presentation, and for the final essay for the module, including their understanding of the topic in the broader context of current research in palaeoanthropology.


EXAMPLES OF LECTURE/SEMINAR TITLES/TUTORIALS

  • Evolution: Darwin, the Modern Synthesis and current theories
  • Palaeoanthropology prior to 1950 and the rise of modern palaeoanthropology
  • Classifying primate locomotion and the evolution of bipedalism
  • What is a species? Taxonomy, classification and species concepts in palaeoanthropology
  • Speciation and macroevolution
  • Tools and culture – extant models for the evolution of hominid stone tool use
  • What’s in a genus? Definition and evolution of the genus Homo
  • Evolution of the brain and cognition in primates and hominids
  • Modern human origins – molecular and palaeontological evidence
  • The impact of recent early hominid fossil discoveries on human evolutionary models

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT SKILLS ACQUIRED

• ability to read, evaluate and discuss original research articles in an academic context
• synthesis of historical and current information to understand scientific problems in a broad context
• experience in presenting and discussing complex ideas in a group discussion
• presentation skills – planning, development and presentation in front of an audience of peers
• working in a group, including teamwork, leadership and debate to consider different viewpoints on relevant issues and/or tasks


STUDENT ATTENDANCE AND INDEPENDENT STUDY

Type

Hours

Seminars 15
Independent Study (including preparation for assessments) 135

ASSESSMENT

Method

% of marks

Hours/Length

Essay 80% 2500
Other assessment (presentation) 20% 15 minutes