Evolutionary Processes

15 credits

Syllabus, Master's level, 1BG373

A revised version of the syllabus is available.
Education cycle
Second cycle
Main field(s) of study and in-depth level
Biology A1N
Grading system
Fail (U), Pass (3), Pass with credit (4), Pass with distinction (5)
Finalised by
The Faculty Board of Science and Technology, 13 March 2008
Responsible department
Biology Education Centre

Entry requirements

120 credits including alt 1) 40 credits/60 credits biology and 20 credits/the chemistry of 30 credits or 20 credits/30 credits earth science . alt 2) 60 credits/90 credits biology.

Learning outcomes

After this course, the student should

  • understand and be able to describe central concepts and processes within the evolutionary biology
  • be able to explain and reconstruct evolutionary processes from these concepts and processes
  • be able to work with mathematical models for evolutionary processes and understand their structure
  • critically review their underlying assumptions and predictions and plan scientific experiments to test these models
  • be able to summarise traditional models for evolutionary processes and relate these to modern studies of the the same processes
  • be able to evaluate, contrast and justify standpoints of controversial hypotheses and models for evolutionary processes.

For students who take the course as a starting course within the Master's programme in biology, the module Current trends in biology is included. After this module, the student should

  • show an understanding of the research front in biology, its history and role for society and of the professional career for biologists
  • show an understanding of gender perspectives, research ethics and philosophy of science.


The course focuses on the following concept and processes: Phenotypic and genetic variation, genetic drift, selection, heredity, inbreeding, phenotype plasticity, genotype -environment interactions, maternal and paternal effects, evolutionary limitations, evolutionary and ecological trade-offs, reproductive costs, population differentiation, species, species concepts and speciation processes.


The teaching is given in the form of lectures, group assignments, individual projects with planning of scientific studies and independent literary work. Large emphasis is placed on problem formulation, hypothesis testing and exercises focusing on creative thinking. The exercises should also critically assess the realism in experiments. Short group projects should formulate and plan experiments and present the results of these discussions.

Within the course, the students carry out a literature project of 4 credits. The students that read the module Current trends in the biology which runs as a seminar series during the whole course, will instead carry out a literature project of 2 credits.


The theoretical course (11 credits) is examined through written examination and compulsory exercises and seminars. For the module Current trends (2 credits) attendance and active participation in seminars is required. For the literature project (2 credits or 4 credits) a passed essay that is discussed at a seminar is required.