Subject 136-029 (2008)

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Credit Points: 12.500
Level: Undergraduate
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2008.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Between 10-12 weekly tutorials and between 20-24 lectures, normally two per week
Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: Usually 75 points of first year study across any discipline areas.
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: Formerly available as 136-102. Students who have completed 136-102 Darwinism are not eligible to enrol in this subject.
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


Prof Janet McCalman
Subject Overview:

This subject explores the origins and the implications of Charles Darwin's revolutionary theory of evolution by means of natural selection. It begins by examining the diverse sources from which the theory was constructed during the late 1830s: the geological data used to challenge Biblical stories of Creation and the Great Flood; the observations of plants and animals that began to suggest common descent; the evolutionary theories that preceded Darwin's own; and the fraught socio-economic context that arguably helped inspire Darwin's vision of a natural world steeped in struggle. The course goes on to examine the reasons why Darwin delayed publishing for more than twenty years and the reception of his theory following the appearance of The Origin of Species in 1859. The course then charts how Darwin's basic theory was refined by successive generations of biologists. It also examines the application of evolutionary theory to questions of politics, warfare, colonialism, economics, as well as race, class and gender, during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The course concludes with a discussion of Darwin's legacy both in terms of the relationship between science and religion, and the emergence of evolutionary approaches to understanding human mind and behaviour.

Assessment: Tutorial assignment of 1500 words 35% (due mid-semester) and a 2500-word essay 65% (due at the end of semester).
Prescribed Texts: Evolution: the history of an idea (P J Bowler), (3rd ed) University of California Press July 2003
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • develop skills in written and oral communication;

  • conduct independent research;

  • make appropriate use of primary and secondary sources in mounting an argument;

  • form defensible judgements based on a critical evaluation of conflicting arguments.


Students enrolled in the BSc (pre-2008 BSc), or a combined BSc course (except for the BA/BSc) will receive science credit for the completion of this subject.

Related Course(s): Bachelor of Arts
Diploma in Arts (History and Philosophy of Science
Graduate Certificate in Arts (History & Philosophy of Science)
Graduate Diploma in Arts (History and Philosophy of Science)
Graduate Diploma in Social Health
Graduate Diploma in Social Health (Health Care History)
Graduate Diploma in Social Health (Medical Anthropology)
Master of Public Health

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