COURSES - Jim Mallet
GRADUATE COURSE: Likelihood and Probability in Scientific Inference Course website
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BIOL2007 (BIOL B242) and BIOL2008 (B243)

A linked pair of courses in evolutionary and ecological genetics.


Brief aims and objectives

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, hybrid zones, speciation, macroevolution, the origin of the genome and the origin of life. BIOLB243 (Ecological Genetics 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.


Brief aims and objectives

This will impart some of the methods used to study population biology in the wild, and give practical experience of the joys of fieldwork. During the course, students undertake a small research project of their own.

Practical issues

The course is fun, but is not a holiday, and students have to work hard to keep up.

Most of the lectures and practicals will take place in Spain during 10 days of the Easter Vacation. However, we give a small number (less than 5) introductory lectures before the end of the spring term in Block 4, and there is a requirement to attend the course symposium at the beginning of the summer term.

The course is assessed in three ways, each contributing 1/3 of the marks.

1) Essay, covering the background to one of the topics on the course. This will be handed in by the end of the spring term.

2) Practical write-up. Students will write up the practical work done on the course, including discussion of the background, methods, results, and statistical analyses. The writeups are to be completed in Spain, and handed in on board the plane home.

3) Research project poster session and seminar. Each student completes a small research project as part of group of 2-3 students. The research project will be written up as a poster. Soon after returning from Spain, we meet for a symposium, consisting of seminars and poster presentations of the groups' work.


Currently, Zahara de los Atunes, a small village on the Atlantic Coast, (Costa de la Luz) between Cadiz and Algeciras, Spain. Location may vary in the future.


Local education authorities pay the college an amount towards field courses; however, the amount is not nearly enough. The Biology Department subsidizes some of the rest of this, but students are expected to pay a small personal contribution. Typically we assess a personal contribution of £80-£100; however the course is still very good value, since this includes airfare (at about £150), lodging, breakfast and evening meal for 10 days.


The field part of the course runs either the week before or just after the Easter bank holiday. Revision for early exams in the summer term is not a problem because of the length of the Easter vacation, and the revision week at the beginning of the summer term.

BIOL2012 FUNDAMENTALS OF ECOLOGY: Lecture notes from Jim Mallet

Main course website
Biodiversity 1: Definitions and Patterns
Biodiversity 2: Explaining the patterns
Biodiversity and Conservation