BIOL271-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023


15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


An introduction to evolution: patterns and processes of evolution; mechanisms of evolution, adaptation, speciation and extinction.

The goals of this course are to elucidate evolutionary theory using evidence from the peer-reviewed literature including Aotearoa New Zealand research where appropriate, and to gain an understanding of evolutionary theory and its role in our understanding of questions such as where species have come from, why are there so many different species, and the importance of evolution in everyday life.

Learning Outcomes

  • As a student in this course, I will develop the ability to:
  • Illustrate the patterns and processes of evolution using examples from the peer-reviewed literature (assessment tasks: midcourse test, wikis, final exam)
  • Describe the mechanisms of evolution at the genetic/genomic level, and interpret basic population genetic/genomic analyses (assessment tasks: midcourse test, final exam)
  • Build and interpret phylogenetic trees, and apply these skills to infer evolutionary history (assessment tasks: midcourse test, final exam)
  • Explain why understanding evolution is important in everyday life, both orally and in writing (assessment tasks: peer assessments, wikis)

    Transferable Skills Register
    As a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:
  • Synthesising information. In everyday life and in many job situations you will be required to read information from different sources, construct your own understanding and shape your own viewpoint. This skill will be developed when answering questions from selected readings in tutorials 1-2 and when writing your wikis.
  • Analysing and interpreting data. Important for research, as well as in a number of private-sector organizations. This skill will be developed when we assist you to analyse and interpret population genetic and phylogenetic data in tutorials 3-4.


Timetable Note


Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Tammy Steeves


Hazel Chapman , Amy Osborne and Sarah Flanagan

Guest Lecturer

Professor Peter Gogarten (Visiting Erskine Fellow, University of Connecticut)

Student Representative

Emily Beasley, Demonstrator


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Wiki contributions 20% complete by Friday 31 March and Friday 2 June
Final Exam 35% lectures 19-36
Mid course Test 35% lectures 1-18
TBL peer-assessment 10% complete by Friday 31 March and Friday 2 June

To gain a pass in this course students much achieve a mark of 50% overall plus achieve an average score of at least 40% for tutorial assessments and an average score of at least 40% for the midcourse test/final exam.

Students should note that in the College of Science the average student is responsible for approximately 3.2 hours of additional study for each hour of lecture at the 200-level.

Team Based Learning
We first trialed a partial Team Based Learning (TBL) approach in 2013. The approach was enthusiastically received by BIOL271 students and has since become a permanent fixture of the course. TBL is a learning strategy in which most internal assessment is completed in structured, permanent learning teams. Briefly, in traditional lecture-based courses, your initial exposure to the course material (the easy part) occurs during lectures, and you’re left to tackle problems/applications/challenges (the hard part) on your own. In TBL, you do the easy part on your own (readings) and you get the support of your team and lecturer as you do the hard part (applications/problems/challenges). The result is you learn more. Having said this, we have had the most success using the following combined approach: two lectures per week are traditional “we talk, you listen” sessions but every third lecture is a TBL session where “you talk” and “we guide”, and most tutorial sessions follow a similar “you talk, we guide” approach. See LEARN for details.

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Freeman, Scott , Herron, Jon C; Evolutionary analysis ; 5th edition; Pearson Education Limited, 2015.

The peer-reviewed literature will also be used. This material will be available on LEARN. It is highly recommended that you read this additional literature. Evidence of extra reading will enhance your test and exam grades.



Student ratings:      2017
1. Course materials helped me understand what was required to succeed       4.1
2. Course organization helped me learn      4.1
3. Course workload appropriate      4.2
4. Course assessments appropriate       3.9
5. Where I sought feedback on my assessments, I found it helpful      3.7

We routinely raise the following issues in the online course survey completed by students at
the end of the course. The responses are collated by the course coordinator and discussed by
the teaching team.

Which aspects of this course were most positive?

Team Based Learning in lectures/tutorials. For example:
“TBL sessions, when we discuss why certain answers are wrong and others are correct.”
“The TBL sessions reinforced learning weekly which makes it easier now to study for exams”
“team based learning allowed a strong understanding of important concepts”
“The team based learning activities really helped me understand the concepts talked about in
lectures and the wikis gave a good opportunity to practice writing”
“TBL sessions were good to learn from peers”

How could this course be enhanced to assist your learning?

The wikis. Although student feedback includes statements like “The wikis helped with
reinforcing the topics covered in lectures” there is persistent feedback that the group wikis are
a challenge to write. As a response, we have provided a detailed template for each of the two
wikis, and introduced a requirement for each student to introduce at least one additional
reference per wiki so students are better able to provide non-redundant examples.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $951.00

International fee $4,750.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences .

All BIOL271 Occurrences

  • BIOL271-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023