• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Biological Anthropology
  • Areas of interest Biological Anthropology, Evolution and Ecology
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Geoffrey Kushnick
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2016
    See Future Offerings

In this course students will consider extent to which the bodies, brains, and behaviour of humans and their closest living relatives have been shaped by sexual selection. Attention will be paid to the variety of mechanisms driving this evolutionary force, including but not limited to mate choice and direct competition with same-sex rivals for mating opportunities. The exploration begins with the historical context of the idea in Victorian England and touches base with controversies ranging from infidelity and extrapair copulation, to the extent to which violence in small-scale societies can be explained as a strategy for procuring mates. Students will examine  the roles of biology and culture in shaping human lives, and on understanding claims about human evolution in primary versus popular literature.

Learning Outcomes

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

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
  1. Master basic and advanced principles related to sexual selection and its role in shaping human and primate evolution.
  2. Discuss with some expertise the strengths and weaknesses of accounts of human evolution in the primary and popular scientific literatures.
  3. Explain an advanced argument about sexual selection in poster and/or presentation format.

Indicative Assessment

Two quizzes (15% each for a total of 30%) [Learning Outcome 1]

Two primary literature critical essays, 1500 words each (15% each for a total of 30%)  [Learning Outcomes 1 & 2]

One popular literature poster assignment, 1000 words (30%) [Learning Outcome 3]

Participation (10%)  [Learning Outcome 2]

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.


Two hours of lecture and one hour or tutorial per week for 13 weeks. Students are expected to commit an additional 7 hours of independent study each teaching week of the semester (total 130 hours).

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed BIAN2132.



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. Tuition fees are indexed annually. 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
2016 $3480
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $4638
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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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
9884 18 Jul 2016 29 Jul 2016 31 Aug 2016 28 Oct 2016 In Person N/A

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