Undergraduate course

Evolutionary Biology

Teaching semester


This course has a limited capacity, enrolment is based on application. Application deadline is Thursday in week 2 for the spring semester. Please see this page for more information: https://www.uib.no/en/matnat/53431/admission-courses-limited-capacity

You will receive confirmation of whether you received a spot in Studentweb no later than Tuesday the week after the deadline.

The time of the first lecture/orientation meeting can be found in the schedule on the course website or on the Mitt UiB learning platform.

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

The aim of the course is to provide students with a deeper insight into the evolutionary processes - both selective and random - which can explain the genetic composition of populations, form, behaviour and distribution of organisms, and to teach students the basic methods of analysing the evolutionary relationships between species.


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

  • natural selection as key to understanding the natural world; how natural selection produces adaptation; the origins of genetic variation; fitness, the common currency for studying adaptive genetic change
  • population genetic consequences of selection, mutation, migration (gene flow), inbreeding; genetic drift, an important evolutionary force
  • multilocus selection; costs and benefits of sex
  • results of natural or artificial selection on quantitative characters: the interplay between heritability and the environment
  • evolution of social behavior and kin selection; sexual selection; evolution of life history characters
  • how evolutionary thinking gives us insights into human health issues
  • phylogenetic thinking: why we need phylogenies for a deeper understanding of all aspects of evolution
  • how new species arise; the major species concepts (what is a species?)
  • the history of life; the evolution of humans
  • evolution and development (EvoDevo)


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

  • understand and explain the main forces of evolution (natural selection, sexual selection, genetic drift) and the interplay among them, both over ecological and evotionary time
  • counter arguments against evolution; critically evaluate popularized writings which take up evolutionary topics or use evolutionary argumentation
  • generate evolutionary hypotheses for a wide variety of biological phenomena
  • read and understand much of the secondary and primary research literature dealing with topics in evolutionary biology
  • apply evolutionary principles in her or his own research

General competance

A student who has completed the course will:

  • have a better understanding of how 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 how to integrate/apply diverse learning methods (reading, discussions, lectures, videos, computer simulations) in biology teaching

Recommended Previous Knowledge

Compulsory parts of Bachelor in Biology.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

  • Compulsory midterm exam, accounts for 40% of total grade.
  • Compulsory assignments, accounts for 20% of total grade.

Approved compulsory activities are valid for 6 semesters, including the semester of completion. Compulsory activities have to be passed in order to take the oral exam.

Forms of Assessment

  • Compulsory oral exam, accounts for 40% of total grade.
  • Compulsory midterm exam, accounts for 40% of total grade.
  • Compulsory assignments, accounts for 20% of total grade.

Grading Scale

A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade, grade F is a fail.

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.


Contact Information

Contact the Study Section at the Department of Biological Sciences: studie@bio.uib.no

Exam information

  • For written exams, please note that the start time may change from 09:00 to 15:00 or vice versa until 14 days prior to the exam. The exam location will be published 14 days prior to the exam. Candidates must check their room allocation on Studentweb 3 days prior to the exam.

  • Type of assessment: Midterm exam, final oral exam and student tasks

    Withdrawal deadline
    • Exam part: Oral exam

    • Exam part: Midterm written examination

      12.03.2020, 09:00
      3 hours
      Examination system
      Digital exam