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Study information

Introduction to Human Sciences

Module titleIntroduction to Human Sciences
Module codeBIO1431
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Sasha Dall (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Where did we come from as a species? What distinguishes humans from other animals? How does human sociality affect individual behaviour and society? What are the roots of human culture? Are humans still evolving? This module will introduce you to the scientific approach to studying the human form, behaviour and social interactions. You will engage in field work and laboratory research exploring the science behind the complexity of human evolution, behaviour and social organisation. You will gain a core understanding of the fundamental concepts involved that will provide you with an excellent knowledge platform for the rest of your degree.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to introduce the scientific approach to studying the human condition, including human behaviour and social interactions. Combining lectures, field work and laboratory research, it explores the science behind the complexity of human evolution, behaviour and social organisation.

Through attending the weekly seminars and completing the assessments, you will further develop the following academic and professional skills:

  • problem solving (linking theory to observations, developing your own ideas with confidence, showing entrepreneurial awareness, being able to respond to novel and unfamiliar problems),
  • managing structure (identifying key demands of the task, setting clearly defined goals, responding flexibly to changing priorities),
  • time management (managing time effectively individually and within a group),
  • collaboration (respecting the views and values of others, taking initiative and leading others, supporting others in their work, maintaining group cohesiveness and purpose), and
  • audience awareness (presenting ideas effectively in multiple formats, persuading others of the importance and relevance of your views, responding positively and effectively to questions).

The module content is updated every year to explore topical research areas, some of which are being carried out in the department, and some of which are of global relevance. You will learn about the tools required to study such problems, and explore how such science can address issues of importance to society.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Explain fundamental evolutionary principles as applied to human lineages
  • 2. Describe the various approaches for studying humans from an evolutionary perspective
  • 3. Discuss the role of cultural change in shaping the human condition

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Describe essential facts and theory across a sub-discipline of the human sciences
  • 5. Identify critical questions from the literature and synthesise research-informed examples into written work
  • 6. Identify and implement, with some guidance, appropriate methodologies and theories for addressing a specific research problem in the human sciences
  • 7. With guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within the human sciences
  • 8. Describe and begin to evaluate approaches to our understanding of the human sciences with reference to primary literature, reviews and research articles

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. Develop, with guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound conclusions
  • 10. Communicate ideas, principles and theories using a variety of formats in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 11. Collect and interpret appropriate data and undertake straightforward research tasks with guidance
  • 12. Evaluate own strengths and weaknesses in relation to professional and practical skills identified by others
  • 13. Reflect on learning experiences and summarise personal achievements

Syllabus plan

Lectures will cover topics such as:

  • Basic evolutionary theory
  • Cultural evolutionary theory
  • Hominid phylogeny
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Human behavioural ecology
  • Evolutionary medicine and gene-culture co-evolution

Practical sessions will reinforce topics covered in lectures, emphasising the nature of scientific enquiry.

Practical sessions and assessments will help develop transferable skills (eg data handling, report writing) that will aid your employability in the future.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching202 x 1-hour per week
Scheduled Learning and Teaching31 x 3 hour practicals to provide hands-on experience with the scientific method as applied to humans
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1010 x 1 hr seminar discussions to discuss lecture material
Guided Independent Study117Additional reading, research and preparation for the class test, laboratory report and essay examination

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Discussion questions during the lectures and practical sessionsOngoing throughout the moduleAllOral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay examination601000 words1-11Written feedback via tutor
Class MCQ/short answer test4030 questions/ 40 minutes1-6, 8-11Feedback sheet

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-11Referral/deferral period
Class MCQ/short answer testEssay examination 1-11Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Boyd R and Silk JB (2012). How humans evolved (2nd Edition). W W Norton.
  • Barrett L, Dunbar R and Lycett J (2001). Human evolutionary psychology. Palgrave Macmillan.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Evolution, ecology, society, culture, cultural evolution, social organisation, gene-culture co-evolution, human societies, hominid evolution

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date