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Study information

Programme Specification for the 2023/4 academic year

BSc (Hons) Intercalated Evolutionary Biology

1. Programme Details

Programme nameBSc (Hons) Intercalated Evolutionary Biology Programme codeUFS1BIOBIOCC
Study mode(s)Full Time
Academic year2023/4
Campus(es)Cornwall Campus
NQF Level of the Final Award6 (Honours)

2. Description of the Programme

The one year BSc (Hons) Intercalated Evolutionary Biology programme is only available to selected students who are undertaking a medical or veterinary degree at the University of Exeter or another appropriate institution, and have completed at least the first two-years (240 credits) of their medical/veterinary school programme (see University Regulations Governing Honours Degrees: Regulation 1.2, Section 5).

The BSc (Hons) Intercalated Evolutionary Biology draws from fields that include genetics, animal behaviour and evolutionary ecology, and examines evolution from many perspectives – from the smallest building blocks of life to entire ecosystems. As a fast growing area of study, it is led by some of the UK’s foremost internationally-recognised, research active staff in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on the Penryn Campus. The Centre hosts a large and thriving group of scientists who work at the cutting edge of research on evolutionarily informed organismal biology and run research projects across the globe, from Uganda to Australia. The programme utilises expertise in the Centre to provide you with the skills, concepts and experience to understand all aspects of modern evolutionary biology. The programme encourages an interdisciplinary approach and you will be exposed to a wide range of theoretical and practical techniques used to study evolutionary biology.

When participating in field courses, you will be required to cover any visa costs and, if necessary, purchase anti-malarial medication and relevant immunisations. You will also need to provide your own specialist personal equipment appropriate to the field course destination, eg. walking boots, rucksack, mosquito net, sleeping bag, binoculars. You may incur additional costs dependent upon the specific demands of the research project chosen. Details of specialist equipment, vaccinations and visas that you must supply at your own expense are provided at

3. Educational Aims of the Programme

The degree programme aims to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of key aspects of modern evolutionary biology:

  • the evolutionary origin and history of phenotypic traits throughout the tree of life;
  • how Darwinian selection shapes biodiversity;
  • how genes and the environment interact to shape the development and expression of phenotypic traits;
  • how Darwinian selection, along with trait expression and inheritance, interact to influence ongoing evolution in a changing world.

The main aim of our programme is to show how these different approaches are complementary and together lead to a fuller understanding of evolution: the fundamental organisational principle of modern biology. Teaching is delivered by leading researchers who provide a thorough grounding in the core concepts and principles of evolutionary biology, and give lectures and seminars on cutting-edge topics in which they are actively engaged in research.

We use a combination of traditional teaching methods such as lectures, seminars, and tutorials, together with innovative teaching and learning methods such as video-conferencing, web-casting, blogging and online discussion forums. Together these create a stimulating and effective learning environment. Similarly, our assessment ranges from more conventional examinations and essays to writing research reports and proposals, talks and poster presentations. We have standard assessment criteria for coursework essays, exams, oral presentations, posters, dissertations and lab reports. A strength of the programme is the emphasis on field courses and the opportunity to ‘learn by doing’ - to carry out independent research projects on animals in the wild and learn principles of scientific enquiry which can be applied to tackle a range of evolutionary, ecological and practical problems in evolutionary biology.

4. Programme Structure

5. Programme Modules

The following tables describe the programme and constituent modules. Constituent modules may be updated, deleted or replaced as a consequence of the annual programme review of this programme.

You may take optional modules as long as any necessary prerequisites have been satisfied, where the timetable allows and if you have not already taken the module in question or an equivalent module.

If you have mobility or health disabilities that prevent you from undertaking intensive fieldwork, reasonable adjustments and/or alternative assessment can be considered in agreement with the Director of Education.

You are also permitted to take the 5-credit module LES3910 Professional Development Experience in any year. Registration on this module is subject to a competitive application process. If taken, this module will not count towards progression or award calculation.

Stage 1

60 credits of compulsory modules, 60 credits of optional modules.

a You are permitted to take field course module BIO3441 Bio Penryn 3rd Year Field Course as part of this programme. More information about destination and specific activities available from the department.


Compulsory Modules

CodeModule Credits Non-condonable?
BIO3136 Research Project 40Yes
BIO2426 Analysis of Biological Data 15No
LES3001 Preparing to Graduate 5No

Optional Modules

CodeModule Credits Non-condonable?
BIO3441 Penryn 3rd Year Field Course [See note a above]30No
BioP SF BSc-S3 MSci EB opt 2021-2
BIO3131 Trends in Ecology and Evolution 15 No
BIO3135 Human Behavioural Ecology 15 No
BIO3400 Living in Groups 15 No
BIO3401 Coevolutionary Interactions 15 No
BIO3409 Symbiosis in Marine Systems 15 No
BIO3410 Sensory Ecology 15 No
BIO3411 Science in Society 15 No
BIO3413 Animal Life Histories 15 No
BIO3415 Ecological Responses to Climate Change 15 No
BIO3420 Evolutionary Biology of Health and Disease 15 No
BIO3421 Animal Migration 15 No
BIO3422 Animal Cognition 15 No
BIO3426 Primate Biology and Conservation 15 No
BIO3428 The Complexity of Human Societies 15 No
BIO3434 Major Transitions in Evolutionary History 15 No
MTH3045 Mathematics for Environment and Sustainability 15 No
ECE3001 Living with Environmental Change 15 No
ECE3002 Frontiers of Global Health 15 No

6. Programme Outcomes Linked to Teaching, Learning and Assessment Methods

Intended Learning Outcomes
A: Specialised Subject Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

1. Describe basic ecology, evolutionary biology and animal behaviour, and aspects of organismal and molecular biology that are relevant to the study of evolutionary biology.
2. Conduct laboratory and field work research and investigations appropriate to the subject of animal biology, ecology, behaviour and evolution.
3. Develop a rigorous scientific approach in synthesising information and concepts, exercising evaluative judgement and rational analysis. Students will be trained in written and verbal communication of scientific information and ideas.
4. Apply logical thinking, problem solving and numeracy skills

Teaching and learning activities are designed to encourage a progressive acquisition of subject knowledge and skills by moving from study methods that have a greater degree of support and assistance towards more independent learning. Teaching and learning activities include: lectures, laboratory classes, research project or dissertation, and a residential field course. Students undertake a range of modules combining explicit subject-based learning to general training in scientific reasoning, critical thinking and transferable skills.

ILO1 – Relevant biological subject areas are assessed via examinations, short lab reports, assessed discussion, tutorial, and multiple choice tests.

ILO2 – Lab skills and experience are assessed through laboratory reports and practical tests. Field skills and experience are assessed through in situ discussion groups, individual and group oral presentations, short research projects, formal poster displays, and post-field trip examinations.

ILO3 – Assessment via essay assignments and review papers, laboratory reports and examinations, and oral presentations.

ILO4 – Assessment via laboratory and field assignments, and an independent research project or dissertation.

Intended Learning Outcomes
B: Academic Discipline Core Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

5. Demonstrate a broadly based knowledge and understanding of the science of evolution, with detailed knowledge of essential facts and theory.
6. Describe and critically evaluate aspects of current research in biosciences with reference to reviews and research articles.
7. With limited guidance, deploy established techniques of practical investigation, data collection, and the analysis and interpretation of these data within the science of evolutionary biology.

Explored through subject-based modules throughout the year and studied in detail in research project. Field trips also provide specialised training in practical study of evolutionary biology.

ILO5 – Explicitly through module-based assessment. Assessment of performance in modules takes place through essay examinations, short answer and multiple-choice tests; practical work and reports; quantitative problems; project report or dissertation; oral presentations; and assessed contribution to group work.

ILO6 – Assessment will be through essay and review assignments. Students are made aware of the marking criteria for all major pieces of work and receive detailed feedback on their performance.

ILO7 – Practical classes and field courses will emphasise the development of independent research skills and the writing-up of lab and fieldwork in the form of scientific reports, using published papers as a model.

Intended Learning Outcomes
C: Personal/Transferable/Employment Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

8. Communicate ideas effectively and professionally by written, oral and visual means.
9. Study autonomously and undertake projects with minimal guidance.
10. Select and properly manage information drawn from books, journals and the internet
11. Develop experience and awareness of IT skills as appropriate to the discipline
12. Evaluate the wider social and environmental implications of relevant ecological and evolutionary processes, and debate issues in relation to specific biological, environmental, social and ethical perspectives.
13. Interact effectively in a group.

Personal transferable employment skills and knowledge are embedded in all modules. Modules are strongly focused towards developing applied skills for use in the dissertation and in real life situations. Practical field skills are taught through an overseas field course and during an independent and collaborative research project in the final year.

ILO8 – Laboratory and field reports, independent research project dissertation, oral presentations, and essay examination.

ILO19 – Independent research project and short field projects during field trips throughout the final year.

ILO10 – Laboratory write-ups, field reports, independent research dissertation; paper discussion groups.

ILO11 – Module-specific training in relevant IT skills, University provision for personal development in IT and other transferable skills.

ILO12 – Discussion seminars, practical classes, field course assessed discussions, class debates.

ILO13 – Field and practical class group tasks, field course assessment of individual interaction and teamwork.

7. Programme Regulations


Full details of assessment regulations for all taught programmes can be found in the TQA Manual, specifically in the Credit and Qualifications Framework, and the Assessment, Progression and Awarding: Taught Programmes Handbook. Additional information, including Generic Marking Criteria, can be found in the Learning and Teaching Support Handbook.

8. College Support for Students and Students' Learning

You will be located in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation (CEC) (Penryn Campus), where close working relationships are fostered. You can expect reasonable access to all teaching staff through appointments and will in addition receive formative feedback from various discussion groups/in-lecture exercises throughout the delivery of each module and therefore receive essentially continuous feedback during the taught component of the programme. Project supervisors provide academic and tutorial support once you move on to the research component of the programme. In addition, the Programme Director will offeryou a meeting each term with an academic who provides guidance and feedback on assessment performance. Your progress will be monitored and you can receive up-to-date records of the assessment, achievements and progress at any stage.

9. University Support for Students and Students' Learning

Please refer to the University Academic Policy and Standards guidelines regarding support for students and students' learning.

10. Admissions Criteria

Undergraduate applicants must satisfy the Undergraduate Admissions Policy of the University of Exeter.

Postgraduate applicants must satisfy the Postgraduate Admissions Policy of the University of Exeter.

Specific requirements required to enrol on this programme are available at the respective Undergraduate or Postgraduate Study Site webpages.

11. Regulation of Assessment and Academic Standards

Each academic programme in the University is subject to an agreed College assessment and marking strategy, underpinned by institution-wide assessment procedures.

The security of assessment and academic standards is further supported through the appointment of External Examiners for each programme. External Examiners have access to draft papers, course work and examination scripts. They are required to attend the Board of Examiners and to provide an annual report. Annual External Examiner reports are monitored at both College and University level. Their responsibilities are described in the University's code of practice. See the University's TQA Manual for details.

(Quality Review Framework.

14. Awarding Institution

University of Exeter

15. Lead College / Teaching Institution

Faculty of Environment, Science and Economy (ESE)

16. Partner College / Institution

Partner College(s)

Not applicable to this programme

Partner Institution

Not applicable to this programme.

17. Programme Accredited / Validated by


18. Final Award

BSc (Hons) Intercalated Evolutionary Biology

19. UCAS Code

Not applicable to this programme.

20. NQF Level of Final Award

6 (Honours)

21. Credit

CATS credits ECTS credits

22. QAA Subject Benchmarking Group

[Honours] Biosciences

23. Dates

Origin Date


Date of last revision