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Population Genetics & Evolution - BIO00056I

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  • Department: Biology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Julia Ferrari
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution" (T. Dobzhansky). Biology is unique among the sciences in that (pre-)historical accidents have shaped the diversity of life as well as all biological processes. This module examines how deterministic and random evolutionary processes lead to evolution at the level of genes, genomes, whole organisms, populations through to higher taxa. The module begins by introducing the processes that affect evolution, the change of allele frequencies, in natural and experimental populations ranging from microbes to humans. This will be followed by exploring the genetics and evolution of complex traits. In the final part of the module, we will explore how population genetic processes change genomes both within and between species and how we can employ genomic information to understand evolutionary change.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

This module will provide a foundation in evolutionary biology, exploring evolutionary processes and resulting patterns across levels of organisation. The module will prepare students for the Evolution module in Stage 3, and would also be useful for the Genomics module. The overarching aim of the module is to develop a conceptual understanding of evolutionary processes. This will be achieved by exploring a range of examples that illustrate each process. A key focus of the module is to learn how to interpret experimental and observational data and to employ simple mathematical models. The material is supported by regular workshops, as well as directed learning activities such as quizzes and worksheets. Embedded in all aspects of the module is the aim to develop experimental design and problem solving skills, and to practise data analysis.

Module learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this module will be able to:

1. Describe key evolutionary processes that affect allele frequencies in populations.

2. Describe evolutionary changes in genomes within and between species.

3. Explain the difference between simple and complex traits and their evolution.

4. Synthesise ideas from across the module into coherent arguments.

5. Understand data collection and analysis of data and be able to design simple experiments.

6.Apply simple evolutionary models to solve problems

Module content

This module builds on Genetics & Evolution: principles of heritability, basic population genetics, history of life on earth

It will provide useful skills and knowledge to enable students to better participate in Advanced topics in Evolution and Genetics in Ecology, Genes and Development, Human and Medical Genetics, Advanced topics in Ecology, Ecology field course


Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Population Genetics & Evolution
6 hours 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Population Genetics & Evolution
6 hours 100

Module feedback

Marks for all summative assessments will be made available to you and your supervisor via e:vision. Feedback will be either individual or cohort-level, depending on the assessment format. You should take the opportunity to discuss your marks and feedback with your supervisor.

For exam-style summative assessment, model answers will be provided for all questions along with cohort-level feedback indicating how students answered questions in general. Marks achieved per question will be added to your script.

For coursework assessments (eg. reports or essays) you will receive individual feedback on your work. This will usually be in the form of a feedback sheet that will include suggestions for further improvement.

During the teaching of the module you will receive formative feedback that may be at a whole class or individual level. Such feedback may include: model answers and discussion of workshop questions, summaries of performance in practicals, VLE-based quizzes, individual spoken comments during workshops, individual written comments on formative work.

Indicative reading

These are available through the VLE module site.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.