Arts and Sciences BASc 3 years

The three-year programme of core courses, major and minor pathway and internship.


Arts and Sciences with Study Abroad BASc 4 years

The three-year programme plus an additional year abroad.



BASC2032 Evolution and the Human Condition

Lecturer: Prof. Richard Goldstein
Most suitable for:
Cultures, Health and Environment or Societies pathways
Mode of Assessment:
One written assignment (30%); one term paper (40%); one student-led discussion of the topic in the class (30%)
Term 2 of Year 2

Evolution is our creation story, the reason why we are here on this planet. The theory of evolution by natural selection has not only revolutionised biology, but has also revised our view of who we are, what is our place in the cosmos, what it means to be human. Because of its far-reaching power to orient our conceptions, evolutionary perspectives have been applied (and misapplied) to a wide range of disciplines throughout the social sciences and humanities. This module would provide students with a basic understanding of evolutionary principles and how these ideas have impacted the discussion on a variety of controversial topics that are separate from, and have often resisted the intrusion of, biology. The idea is not to resolve these topics, or even to reach a consensus what evolutionary perspectives can bring to these discussions. Rather, the module will provide experience in interdisciplinary thinking, allowing students to come to their own conclusions regarding the power and limitations of evolutionary perspectives and the degree to which these perspectives provide new viewpoints in a range of disciplines.

The course will introduce students to the basics of evolutionary thought, including a limited number of the underlying theoretical analyses and empirical observations. The remainder of the course will be spent looking with an evolutionary ‘lens’ at a variety of different topics, analysing what understanding can be provided by such a perspective, as well as how the resulting views can change our concept of evolution.