Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

BLGY2220 Evolution, Adaptation and Behaviour

20 creditsClass Size: 180

Module manager: Amanda Bretman

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

Pre-requisite qualifications

Student must have taken at least 2 of the pre-requisite modules


BLGY1124The Diversity of Life
BLGY1128Living Planet
BLGY1235Lives of Carnivores
BLGY1237Introduction to Genetics

Module replaces

BLGY2222 Animal Behaviour BLGY2223 Organismal Evolution

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The module will encourage students to appreciate that evolution unifies Biology and that it explains the diversity of life on Earth. It will examine evolutionary processes to develop an understanding of adaptation to environments, across evolutionary time and in our rapidly changing modern world. The module takes animal behaviour, taught in a behavioural ecology framework, as a specific field in which evolution and adaptation can be explored.


On completion of this module, students should be able to emphasise the importance of evolutionary understanding as underpinning all areas of Biology. To familiarise students with evolutionary processes, and how these translate into adaptation, speciation and the diversity of life. To show how theoretical models can be tested with various forms of evidence. To use animal behaviour as an exemplar field in which to understand selection pressures and fitness outcomes.

Learning outcomes
- Demonstrate a broad understanding of micro- and macro-evolutionary processes, linking evidence ranging from genetic sequences to the fossil record.
- Describe biotic and abiotic factors promoting adaptation and speciation.
- Explain major evolutionary transitions and radiations, including how evolutionary trees are constructed and used.
- Explain animal behaviour in a behavioural ecology framework, focussing on concepts such as trade-offs and optimisation that link to adaptation.
- Appreciate and employ different methods of enquiry in evolutionary/ behavioural ecology, critically evaluate the appropriateness of different lines of evidence and apply the concepts and methods to novel situations.
- Communicate a scientific study, from conception through to future directions, to a scientific audience.


- The origins of life and an overview of evolutionary history
- Extinction and punctuated equilibrium;
- Major transitions: life on land
- Plant-animal interactions, mutualisms and coevolution;
- Major radiations: invertebrates;
- Major radiations: vertebrates;
- Adaptation: Natural and Sexual Selection;
- Speciation;
- Sexual selection and mating systems
- The basis of behaviour: role of the environment, learning, role of genes;
- Optimal foraging, group foraging, foraging behaviour and social structure;
- Predator-prey relations,
- Game theory, Competition and territoriality;
- Kin selection and altruism.

Finally, students will be introduced to real-world examples where evolutionary or behavioural ecology understanding is important in contexts such as disease, agriculture and conservation.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours6.00
Private study hours168.00
Total Contact hours26.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Practical Report2000 with figures and statistical analysis50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment2 hr 50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 29/04/2024 16:11:53


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019