• Offered by Biology Teaching and Learning Centre
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Biology
  • Areas of interest Plant Science, Zoology, Evolution and Ecology, Biodiversity Conservation
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Marcel Cardillo
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2024
    See Future Offerings

"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution"

Theodosius Dobzhansky (1973)



Evolution has shaped everything about the biological world. This course will help you to make sense of evolution. It will give you deeper insights into some of the most gripping aspects of existence: why organisms age, why most animals have sex rather than reproducing clonally, why diseases are virulent or mild, why individuals choose to compete rather than cooperate, and much more.


This course will help you to develop an appreciation and understanding of evolutionary principles and processes, including microevolution (natural and sexual selection, fitness, adaptation, sexual conflict, coevolution) and macroevolution (speciation, molecular evolution, phylogenetics, evolution of biodiversity). The course will also briefly introduce human evolution and the emerging field of evolutionary medicine.


The course is not just about learning facts. It is about understanding how evolutionary biologists do research, and getting to grips with how we can design tests or experiments that tell us about processes that happen over timescales longer than a human life, or events that occurred millions of years ago. For example, how do we test ideas about why some birds are brightly coloured and others dull? How can we reconstruct the events that result in one species splitting into two? How can we explain why there are so many species in tropical rainforests? By the end of this course, you will be able to formulate and test your own evolutionary hypotheses.


A series of 4 workshops include in-depth discussions of the complexities of evolutionary issues, and a computer workshop to give you hands-on experience of evolutionary analysis

Note: Graduate students attend joint classes with undergraduates but are assessed separately

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Examine, summarise and integrate central ideas explaining evolutionary patterns and processes from the molecular to the macro scale.
  2. Analyse the role of observation, pattern, experimentation and modelling in the generation and testing of evolutionary hypotheses.
  3. Critically evaluate scientific evidence for and against evolutionary patterns and processes.
  4. Conduct basic evolutionary research and effectively communicate the findings both orally and in writing.
  5. Recognize and describe the strengths and weaknesses of a case study in evolutionary research.

Indicative Assessment

  1. 4 x Discussion group workshops (8% each) (32) [LO 1,2,3]
  2. 6 x Short online quizzes (25) [LO 1,2,3]
  3. 2 x Essay (13% each) (26) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  4. Critical review paper (17) [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.


The expected workload will consist of approximately 130 hours throughout the semester including:

  • Face-to face component which may consist of 3 x 1 hour lectures per week (total 36 hours). 5-6 x 3 hours of practical or workshop sessions throughout the semester.
  • Approximately 76 hours of self directed study which will include preparation for lectures, presentations and other assessment tasks.

Students are expected to actively participate and contribute towards discussions.

Inherent Requirements

To be determined

Requisite and Incompatibility

This course is incompatible with BIOL2114

You will need to contact the Biology Teaching and Learning Centre to request a permission code to enrol in this course.

Prescribed Texts



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
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $4440
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $6360
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
7774 22 Jul 2024 29 Jul 2024 31 Aug 2024 25 Oct 2024 In Person N/A

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