Evolutionary Biology

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The goal of this course is create a deep understanding of how evolution works, and general knowledge about the most important research questions in evolutionary biology. The subject introduces students to all aspects of evolutionary biology.

Learning Outcomes


A student who has completed the course should have solid knowledge of:

  • fitness, the measure for selection, and how it can be measured empirically
  • the causes of genetic variation; selection in its various forms; heritability; how these three processes together result in adaptation
  • population genetics; how selection, mutation, migration (gene flow), and inbreeding affect the genetic structure of populations; genetic drift, the other important evolutionary force
  • phylogenetic thinking; how new species arise; the major species concepts
  • the evolutionary costs and benefits of sex
  • the study of quantitative characters and the interplay between genes and the environment
  • the evolution of life histories, including in parasites, and their epidemiological consequences
  • how evolutionary thinking gives us insight into human health issues
  • the evolution of early humans
  • evolution and development; how similarities and differences in body plans arose across the tree of life (EvoDevo)


Upon completion of the course, a student should be able to:

  • counter arguments against evolution; critically evaluate popularized writings which take up evolutionary topics or use evolutionary argumentation
  • formulate sound, testable evolutionary hypotheses for a variety of biological phenomena
  • read and understand much of the secondary and primary research literature within evolutionary biology
  • apply evolutionary principles in her or his own research

General competence:

Upon completion of the course, a student should:

  • have a better understanding of how evolutionary science generates knowledge by way of hypothesis testing, systematic observations, and the comparative method
  • be able to better distinguish scientific from unscientific arguments
  • have gained experience with diverse learning methods (reading, discussions, lectures, videos, computer simulations) in biology
  • see evolutionary biology as a powerful set of tools for approaching current changes in biodiversity and addressing future challenges

Level of Study

Bachelor and master

Semester of Instruction


This course has a limited capacity, enrolment is based on application. The application deadline is Wednesday in week 2 for the spring semester. Please see this page for more information.: Admission to courses with limited capacity | Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences | UiB . You will receive confirmation of whether you received a seat in Studentweb no later than Monday the week after the deadline.

It is compulsory to attend the first lecture/orientation meeting, or you risk losing your seat. If you are unable to attend the first lecture, you must contact the Study Section (studie.bio@uib.no). The time of the first lecture/orientation meeting can be found in the schedule on the course website or on Mitt UiB.

Required Previous Knowledge
Compulsory courses in bachelor's in biology, or equivalent courses.
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Teaching and learning methods


Although it is not compulsory to attend class all teaching sessions, much of the activities take place there and the learning effect will be limited if one chooses not to participate actively.

Forms of Assessment

Portfolio assessment

  • Digital assignments (20% of grade).
  • Midterm exam (40% of grade).
  • Oral exam (40% of grade).

All three assessments must be completed in the teaching semester to pass the course and are only valid in the semester in which they are completed.

Grading Scale
A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade, grade F is a fail.
Assessment Semester
Course Evaluation
Students will evaluate the course in accordance with the quality assurance system at UiB and the Department. You can find courseevaluations in the Quality Assurance Reports.
Examination Support Material