BIOSCI 322 : Evolution of Genes, Populations and Species


2021 Semester Two (1215) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Advanced concepts in evolutionary biology and their application to current research in molecular evolution, population genetics, phylogenetics and organismal evolution. Examples from animals, plants and microbes, as well as topical issues, including speciation, adaptation, co-evolution, sexual selection, conservation, biogeography, genomics, biotechnology and human disease. Recommended preparation: Prior or concurrent enrolment in BIOSCI 202.

Course Overview

This is an interdisciplinary course designed for all students with an interest in evolution and its diverse applications to other fields of biology. Thus, it is suitable for students from a diverse range of disciplines, including those studying organismal biology, molecular biology, biomedical science, anthropology, psychology, environment and geography, and beyond. As evolution is such a fundamental concept to all aspects of biology, this course provides a valuable understanding of its relevance and application to all these fields. 

The course is a core component of the Evolution Pathway in the Biological Sciences degree.

Because evolutionary understanding is such a fundamental aspect of all biological disciplines, this course will be of great assistance to further study and career prospects across the spectrum of biology, but particularly for the disciplines of ecology, conservation and molecular biology.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: BIOSCI 210

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Communicate orally and in writing a broad understanding of evolutionary principles at the levels of genes, populations and species (Capability 1 and 2)
  2. Apply evolutionary principles to a variety of practical questions ranging from conservation genetics to genome evolution (Capability 2, 3, 5 and 6)
  3. Describe examples of the latest trends in evolutionary research (Capability 1 and 2)
  4. Apply individual and group experience to practical evolutionary research skills across the areas of comparative morphology, DNA analysis, evolutionary simulations and phylogenetic analyses. (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Final Exam 50% Individual Examination
Test 20% Individual Test
Laboratories 30% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4
Final Exam
Students must pass the practical (6 Laboratory Reports) and the theory (mid-semester test and final exam) independently to pass the course overall. 

Key Topics

Course Content: 

Lecture and Lab Content

Week 1 Lectures: Darwinian Views of Evolution
Week 1 Lab: Evolution and Adaptation 
Week 2 Lectures: Species & Speciation

Week 3 Lectures: Neutral Theory
Week 3 Lab: Dolphin Conservation Genetics I – PCR 

Week 4 Lectures: Drift, Inbreeding and Gene Flow

Week 5 Lectures: Drift, Inbreeding and Gene Flow
Week 5 Lab: Dolphin Conservation Genetics II – RFLP 

Week 6 Lectures: The Mechanisms of Selection I 
Week 7 Lectures: Population Genomics 
Week 7 Lab: Dolphin Genetics III – Population Analysis 
Week 8 Lectures: Molecular Phylogenetics I 

Week 9 Lectures: Phylogenetic trees as testable hypotheses
Week 9 Lab: Phylogenetic Trees 

Week 10 Lectures: Geography of Genetic Diversity 

Week 11 Lectures: Guest lecturers in human and behavioural evolution
Week 11 Lab: Using Genetic Methods to Identify Species
Week 12 Lectures: Evolution of Humans & the Human Genome 

Special Requirements

Both theory and laboratory work require a pass.

Lab coats and covered shoes are required for specific laboratory sessions.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, each week you can expect 3 hours of lectures and/or tutorials, 3 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 2.5 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation, and 3 hours of laboratories each fortnight.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities including labs and tutorials to complete components of the course.
Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including seminars, tutorials and labs/studios will not be available as recordings.
The course will not include live online events .
Attendance on campus is required for both the mid-semester test and final exam.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

A remote version of the course can be made available to students located overseas because of border restrictions, or those with an exemption to study remotely.

Learning Resources

Recommended resources:
- course book
- text book: Douglas Futuyma - "Evolution"

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Each year, student suggestions and feedback play a vital role in revising the course.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

Level 1: Delivered normally as specified in delivery mode

Level 2: You will not be required to attend in person. All teaching and assessment will have a remote option. The following activities will also have an on campus / in person option:  labs

Level 3 / 4: All teaching activities and assessments are delivered remotely

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 21/12/2020 01:16 p.m.