Evolutionary Biology
Course code
old course code
Course title in Estonian
Course title in English
Evolutionary Biology
ECTS credits
approximate amount of contact lessons
Teaching semester
autumn 2
Assessment form
lecturer of 2018/2019  Spring semester
lecturer not assigned
lecturer of 2019/2020  Autumn semester
lecturer not assigned
Course aims
Major. The theory of evolution is the most important theory in contemporary biological sciences. To provide students with knowledge of the main principles of evolutionary biology and in so doing give them a real basis from which to understand biological processes on all organisational levels of life. Modern or synthetic evolutionary biology is important for understanding the natural history and biological diversity of Earth.
Brief description of the course
The course gives an overview of the rise of evolutionary ideas, the theories of Darwin and modern synthesis. Four main areas are covered: evolutionary genetics, adaptation and natural selection, biological diversity and the concept of species and macroevolution. The concepts of the origins of life and human evolution are also covered.
Independent work
Students must read a number of review papers on the following topics:

• Darwin’s evolutionary theory: main thesis and critics
• The evidence for evolution
• The theory of natural selection and random events in population genetics
• Adaptation, its analysis and explanations
• The evolution of biological diversity
• The role of evolution theory in education
• Philosophical and religious issues of evolution

On these topics students write an essay. The acceptance of essay is a prerequisite to pass the exam

Learning outcomes in the course
Students are able to analyze processes taking place in the living world according to historical perspective. Students have basic knowledge of contemporary synthetic theory of evolution and biological mechanism leading to biological evolution. They understand the concept of species and process of speciation as well as evolutionary aspects of interactions among species.
Assessment methods
The written final exam consists of 10 short questions and two major topics of evolutionary biology discussed beforehand. An essay written by the student on one given topic during the course is a pre-requisite for sitting the final examination. Re-examination is a written test.
dots Ingrid Kalev
Prerequisite course 1
Study literature
Ridley, M. 2004 Evolution, 3-ed ed., Blackwell Publishing; Patterson, C. 1999 Evolution; Futuyama, D.J., 1998 Evolutionary Biology. Evolution. Collection of selected papers; Ed. ByMark Ridley. Mayr E. (1962). Species concepts and their application. Animal species and evolution.; Stearns & Hoekstra, 2005, Evolution an introduction, 2 ed., Oxford University Press.
Replacement literature
Simpson G.G. 1961 One hundred years without Darwin; Dobzhansky T. 1973 Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution Amer; Mono, J. L. 1974 On the molecular theory of evolution. Problems of scientific revolution.