Course organizers and staff

James Mallet: Wolfson House, room 412, 020-7679-7412, email:
Kevin Fowler: Wolfson House, room 304, 020-7679-7424/504-5019, email:

+ a number of postdoctoral or postgraduate assistants to be arranged as tutors.


To introduce the rapidly advancing field of evolution and its genetic basis. To give examples of applications of evolutionary biology to agriculture, health, and conservation.

Course requirements

Students will normally have taken the introductory genetics course BIOL1005 or equivalent.


Click above to see!


This course covers the ecological and genetic core of evolutionary biology using prokaryote, plant, animal and human examples. It discusses the maintenance of genetic variability, the rôle of chance in evolution, the origins of species and theories of evolution beyond the species level. The usefulness of evolutionary biology in disease and pest control, and in conservation also plays a part. Lecture topics include the effects of mutation, drift and selection (including directional, stabilizing, disruptive and kin selection), sexual selection, molecular evolution, mimicry, chromosomal evolution, spatial evolution, evolution of species, and evolution beyond the species level.

See also the Reading List.

BIOL2008 (Evolution Field Course) is a half unit which follows on from this course, and is arranged around a 10-day field course in southern Spain during the Easter vacation.

Assessment and practical issues


We aim to help you keep abreast of the course by asking you to do three written assignments, then discuss the assignment topics in a small group of other students and tutor.

The assignment must be submitted every few weeks on the Friday before your tutorial, by 4:30 pm in Wolfson House office (third floor), which will be held that Wednesday. The assignments will consist of problem sets or short essays.

Problems are intended to give a deeper understanding of the logical nature of evolution; they are not intended to be hard. If you have difficulties, you may get help from fellow students, tutors or lecturers. When the assignment is a set of problems, SHOW YOUR WORKING!

When the assignment is an essay, DO NOT MERELY PARAPHRASE OR COPY OUT PASSAGES FROM THE READINGS. Repetition makes boring writing, but it is even more boring for us tutors. We will award HIGHEST MARKS TO THOSE WHO CAN WRITE INTERESTING ESSAYS SUMMARIZING their readings, and express points of view based on a good understanding of the readings. Remember that it is easier for us to read legible material: it would be helpful to you and us if essays were word processed, though it's not compulsory.

Tutorials will yield 25% of the total marks, so make sure you hand in your work on time. Tutors are busy, so TUTORIAL MATERIAL MUST BE HANDED IN ON TIME TO MAKE THE FINAL MARKS. Many of the exam questions are based on tutorials, so they are worth doing well!


The end of year exam will have three parts: (Part 1) one long essay from a choice of several; (Part 2) two short essays from a choice of several; (Part 3) one problem question for which you will need a calculator. Each part will have 25% of the total marks on the course; the exam will therefore carry a total of 75% of the overall marks on the course. Note: This course, BIOL2007, is a revised BIOLB242 and GENE B007, under which previous exam scripts may be filed in the library.  See also BIOL2007 EXAM HINTS, and some exam scripts at the BIOL2007 EXAM SCRIPT SITE.

Please do NOT just regurgitate undigested facts at high speed onto the exam sheet. Once again, we are more interested in your ability to put the facts you know together, rather than in having you parrot the lectures or readings. SHOW WORKING, and READ AND ANSWER THE QUESTION CAREFULLY. We suggest spending 5 minutes making a plan of each essay before wading into the writing: it is possible, even in the short time available, to make an argument which is well-formed and has a carefully worded conclusion.