Evolution (Pattern and Process) 4Y option BIOL4042

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Biodiversity One Health Vet Med
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

Evolutionary biology is at the core of modern biology. This course aims to explore key conceptual and empirical issues in evolutionary biology. The course combines pattern-oriented approaches, such as phylogenetics, with process-oriented developments in population genetics, developmental biology, and molecular ecology.


There is normally 3 hours of teaching on Fridays, which may be split over more than one session.

Requirements of Entry

Normally, only available to final-year School of Life Sciences students in a Degree Group A (Animal Biology group) or Genetics programme. Visiting students may be allowed to enrol, at the discretion of the School of Life Sciences Chief Adviser and the Course Coordinator. 

Excluded Courses



The course will be assessed by a 2-hour examination (70%) and in-course assessment consisting of 2 components: a data analysis exercise (20%) and a lightning talk (10%). 

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

The course aims to examine phylogenetic inference and the application of phylogenetics to evolutionary problems, to explore specific topics (such as population genetics, microevolution, and the relationship between development and evolution), and to foster an appreciation of the relevance of evolutionary theory to real-world problems. 

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course, students will be able to: 

■ Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the major methods of reconstructing phylogenies; 

■ Discuss how phylogenies can be used to test evolutionary hypotheses;

■ Explain the mechanisms of microevolutionary change;

■ Discuss the relationships between micro- and macroevolutionary processes;

■ Discuss the relationship between development and evolution;

■ Assess the importance of real-world applications of evolutionary processes.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.