Faculty of Arts


Theorising Human Evolution


This course gives students an opportunity to critically read, debate and thoughtfully evaluate some of the most important issues in biological anthropology including evolutionary theory as it applies to humans, paying particular attention to theoretical perspectives, the hypotheses generated from them and the various assumptions and evidence underpinning debates, past and current. The course is taught in a seminar format with everyone having a set role for each week so that we equally participate in discussions and debates.

In this course we will focus upon evolutionary theory as it applies to humans, starting with the texts most frequently cited and never read – Darwin and Wallace – we will then move on to consider debates around the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis, including niche construction, plasticity, and developmental systems.  Our focus will be on how these ideas apply and change our view of human evolution.  

Learning outcomes:

1.           Be able to identify and thoughtfully evaluate hypotheses derived from various theories (Capability 1.1 and 2.1)

2.           Recognise strengths and weaknesses of, or limitations to, various arguments and be able to suggest what more could usefully be done to resolve disagreements or uncertainties (Capability 1.2 and 3.1)

3.           Demonstrate effective library research skills including being able to track arguments and ideas both backwards and forwards (Capability 3.2 and 4.1)

4.           Formulate and organise a logical written argument (Capability 2.3, 4.1 and 4.2)

5.           Give and respond to constructive comment on both written and oral work through oral participation in the class and responding to draft comments in written work (Capability 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 and 5.2)

6.           Effectively work in a small group, presenting ideas and thoughtfully responding to ideas presented by others in focused discussions (Capability 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3)

This is one of two core theory courses in postgraduate biological anthropology.

Availability 2021

Semester 1


Lecturer(s) Dr Heather Battles


ANTHRO 762: 15.0 points

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