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Evolution & Behaviour is a first-year Natural Sciences course on evolutionary biology, behaviour, ecology and conservation.  It is taught jointly by the Departments of Biochemistry, Genetics, Plant Sciences and Zoology, and the Division of Biological Anthropology and the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology.  The course consists of the following themes:

  • evolutionary theory;
  • the origin of life and cells;
  • the origin and evolution of plants;
  • the evolution and diversity of animals;
  • the evolution  of behaviour;
  • primate and human evolution;
  • human population genetics;
  • plant adaptations and domestication;
  • global change and conservation.

Online resources are provided to current students through the Moodle Site. You will automatically be subscribed to this site as part of the NST IA subject choice procedures but if you join the course after the start of term, send an email to the course administrator requesting that you are added to the course, with your preferred practical day (Monday or Tuesday). You will need to use your Raven ID and password to log onto Moodle, which you will also be able to access during the vacation.


What kinds of students should consider taking this course?

As Theodosius Dobzhansky once said “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”. Evolution & Behaviour therefore provides a broad base for further studies across the whole spectrum of biology, and should be considered by all biologists, whether their primary interests lie in molecular and cellular disciplines, physiology, or in ecology and evolution.  The course is also appropriate for physical scientists with an interest in evolutionary biology. It will be of particular relevance to those with an interest in Genetics.

What previous experience is required?

An A-Level or equivalent in Biology is not an essential requirement for this course, although sixth-form level experience of Biology is a very useful background. We begin the course with three introductory lectures to bring students with less familiarity in biology up to speed.

With which other courses is Evolution & Behaviour compatible?

The course can be most usefully combined with Biology of Cells, Physiology of Organisms or Earth Sciences, but in fact it can be taken with any of the other first year Natural Sciences courses. It is an excellent background for all the second-year biological courses, including cellular courses, but is particularly relevant to Evolution & Animal Diversity, Cell & Developmental Biology, Ecology, Evolution & Conservation, and Plant & Microbial Sciences. These in turn could lead on to Part II Zoology, Plant Sciences or Genetics, all of which provide the opportunity to further specialise in this field.