• Offered by Biology Teaching and Learning Centre
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Biology
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Craig Moritz
    • Dr Marcel Cardillo
    • Prof Lindell Bromham
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2014
    See Future Offerings

This course involves a detailed investigation of the pattern and process of biological diversification and biogeography, and areas of controversy in the field of evolutionary biology.  Four key aspects of the evolutionary process will be addressed in detail: (1) species concepts and the principles underlying the process of speciation; (2) mechanisms and causes of evolutionary radiation and extinction; (3) the factors underlying the geographic distribution of biodiversity (macroecology and biogeography); (4) reconstructing evolutionary history, measuring and documenting biodiversity (systematics).  An investigation of the speciation process will examine the many ways in which reproductive barriers are initially formed, permitting species to follow independent evolutionary trajectories.  The theme of diversification and extinction will use a series of major events in biodiversity generation and loss (eg. the extinction of the dianosaurs, the radiation of mammals) as test cases to cover essential concepts in evolutionary biology, with the emphasis on developing critical skills in hypothesis testing using a range of types of information, including palaeontology, systematics, developmental biology, and molecular data.  This will lead to present day patterns of biodiversity, examined in the light of macroecology, examining the contribution that broad scale ecological studies can make to our understanding of past, present and future patterns of species richness and biodiversity loss.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

1. Identify and describe the principles of phylogenetic reconstruction, including the selection of appropriate characters for generating phylogenetic hypotheses.

2. Understand the relationship between phylogenetics and taxonomy in sufficient depth to be able to construct a robust taxonomy on the basis of established phylogenies.

3. Describe the different mechanisms that maintain reproductive isolation between species, and explain the variety of speciation models that give rise to reproductive isolation.

4. Identify and describe the mechanisms leading to evolutionary radiation and divergence following the extablishment of reproductive barriers.

5. Describe the nature of biogeographical pattern from the local to the global scale, and identify the factors that led to these distributions.

6. Apply critical skills in hypothesis testing using a range of types of information, including the palaeontology, systematics, developmental biology, and molecular data.

7. Be able to access and navigate and interpret evolutionary databases and the scientific literature in order to present a coherent and critical analysis of competing views on evolutionary themes, either orally or in an essay.


Indicative Assessment

Assessment will be based on:

  • Four in-class tests (5% each) )LO 1-5)
  • Tutorial Worksheet (20%) (LO 6,7)
  • Paper review and essay (60%) (LO 6-7)

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


Three lectures per week and total of three two-hour tutorial classes per semester.

Requisite and Incompatibility

Enrolment in Programs 7609, 7629, 7631 and 7632 only. Incompatible with BIOL3206

Assumed Knowledge

Bachelor degree with knowledge of biology, biodiversity or ecology and evolution


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Students continuing in their current program of study will have their tuition fees indexed annually from the year in which you commenced your program. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee Description
1994-2003 $1650
2014 $2946
2013 $2946
2012 $2946
2011 $2946
2010 $2358
2009 $2358
2008 $2358
2007 $2358
2006 $2358
2005 $2358
2004 $2160
International fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $3606
2014 $3762
2013 $3756
2012 $3756
2011 $3756
2010 $3750
2009 $3618
2008 $3618
2007 $3618
2006 $3618
2005 $3618
2004 $3618
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
8170 21 Jul 2014 08 Aug 2014 31 Aug 2014 30 Oct 2014 In Person N/A

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