Student Pages
Postgraduate course

Phylogenetic Methods

Main content

Teaching semester


This course has a limited capacity, enrolment is based on application. Application deadline is Thursday in week 33 for the autumn 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.

The course runs only if enough students enrol.

It is mandatory to attend the first lecture.

Objectives and Content

The course provides a theoretical introduction to phylogenetic methods with topics that deal with different data types, characteristics of phylogenetic trees, models of evolutionary change, phylogenetic signal, model testing, parsimony, "likelihood, Bayesian methods, character reconstruction and phylogenetic hypothesis testing. Through practical exercises the student will gain experience with some of the most frequently used software application in phylogenetic research, including the Paup *, MrBayes and BEAST. Participants will learn to prepare their data, explore the characteristics of data, to perform various forms of tree search and how to present their results with various graphics programs.

Learning Outcomes

The course aims to enable students to be able to reproduce key parts of a phylogenetic analysis of a given research publication and to evaluate results and conclusions of such work. Having completed the course, a student is expected to be able to prepare and perform phylogenetic analysis by:

  • using appropriate software to align and compile DNA sequence data
    finding and using relevant "Gene Bank" information about homologous DNA sequences
  • finding the reading frame for a protein coding gene with a relevant codon table
  • concatenating different data sets in one file and defining different partitions of data
  • writing command files to include / exclude parts of the data in various operations
  • finding the best evolutionary models for different data sets and defining these models for use in the applied computer program
  • calculating the tree length and the "likelihood" of a given phylogenetic tree
  • using optimal methods for tree search with parsimony and "likelihood"
  • applying Bayesian methods to search for tree topology, calculation of the clade probability, branch lengths, and parameter values ¿¿for a given model
    using different molecular clocks
  • applying various digital graphic formats of phylogenetic trees for publication
  • demonstrating a good understanding of how different phylogenetic tree structures are interpreted as signatures of different evolutionary processes

Required Previous Knowledge

Bachelor degree in Biology or the equivalent

Forms of Assessment

Written digital take-home examination.

Grading Scale

The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, 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 the Study Section at the Department of Biological Sciences: studie@bio.uib.no

Exam information

  • Type of assessment: Written home examination

    Assignment handed out
    06.12.2021, 11:00
    Submission deadline
    20.12.2021, 12:00
    Withdrawal deadline
    Examination system
    Digital exam