• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Biological Anthropology
  • Areas of interest Anthropology, Biological Anthropology, Human Sciences, Evolution and Ecology, Biology
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Katharine Balolia
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2025
    See Future Offerings
  • STEM Course

This course will provide an introduction to the fossil evidence for human evolution in the context of living great apes and modern humans. The course will proceed chronologically from our earliest human ancestors, who originated around 7 million years ago, up until modern humans who inhabit the world today. We will ask the questions of why our ancestors became bipedal, what they ate, how they grew up, and when they left Africa. We will cover topics such as how can we reconstruct behaviour using skeletal evidence and will critically examine how the evolutionary relationships among our extinct hominin relatives can be inferred from the fossil evidence.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. develop an in-depth understanding of the scope of the discipline of palaeoanthropology, as it relates to the wider biological anthropology context; 
  2. develop an in-depth understanding of the principles of biological evolution, adaptation and other theoretical approaches, relevant to the study of the hominin fossil record; 
  3. understand what is meant by the concepts of species, and how these may be recognised in the fossil record;
  4. provide in-depth comparisons of different fossils with one another, and use comparative methods to critically assess dietary, behavioural, taxonomic or phylogenetic inferences; and
  5. develop an in-depth understanding of how the study of human origins is associated with societal, environmental and ethical considerations 

Indicative Assessment

  1. Annotated bibliography relevant to proposed essay, 1500 words (10) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  2. Major essay, 3500 words (50) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Take-home test, 5 working days (30) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  4. Tutorial participation (10) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

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.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:

a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of tutorials, labs and online activities; and

b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.  

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed PREH2011 or BIAN3113.

Prescribed Texts

Processes in Human Evolution: The journey from early hominins to Neandertals and Modern Humans, Francisco J. Ayala and Camilo J. Cela-Conde, 2017, OUP Oxford (2nd Edition)


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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
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.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
2003 17 Feb 2025 24 Feb 2025 31 Mar 2025 23 May 2025 In Person N/A

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