Evolution and the Human Condition

Subject ZOOL30004 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 29-Feb-2016 to 29-May-2016
Assessment Period End 24-Jun-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 11-Mar-2016
Census Date 31-Mar-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 06-May-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 2 x one hour lectures per week; 16 hours excursion, tutorial or practical work during the semester
Total Time Commitment:

Estimated total time commitment of 170 hours


25 points of 200-level subjects that address biological or human-related issues, or by arrangement with the coordinator

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability


Dr Theresa Jones, Prof Mark Elgar



Subject Overview:

How human are humans? Is Darwin’s extraordinary idea relevant for our species? This subject examines the role of evolution in shaping human biology, by examining our past origins, our current behavior and life-histories, and our future relationships with other organisms. Topics include the evolutionary history of hominids, patterns of migration and variation in skin colour; human reproductive strategies and sex ratios; why language makes us different; how genes and environment shape sexual and cooperative behavior; antagonistic co-evolutionary processes and antimicrobial resistance, pathogen virulence, and management of natural resources. Lectures draw on contemporary examples from the primary literature, complemented with TV documentaries. There is a strong emphasis on distinguishing between unsubstantiated conjecture and concepts that are supported by rigorous science.

Learning Outcomes:

This subject aims to provide students with an understanding of the evolution of adaptation by natural and sexual selection; knowledge of how evolutionary theory explains human behavior and life-histories; and how an understanding of evolutionary processes can help resolve questions about human interactions with other species

  • A written essay (no more than 1100 words), and three double blind reviews (no more than 500 words per review), due during the semester (40%);
  • a 30-minute written examination in mid-semester (10%);
  • a 2-hour written examination in the examination period (50%).
Prescribed Texts:


Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

The subject builds upon existing generic skills, including an ability to assimilate and critically evaluate new knowledge within a scientific paradigm, and to communicate that knowledge to a broad audience.


This subject is available for science credit to students enrolled in the BSc (both pre-2008 and new degrees), BASc or a combined BSc course.

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Science-credited subjects - new generation B-SCI and B-ENG.
Selective subjects for B-BMED
Related Breadth Track(s): Ecology, Evolution and Humanity

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