Module code: BMS1040

Module Overview

This module places the fundaments to build your knowledge about the general principles of evolution and the evolutionary mechanism of adaptation which you will apply in the second year about animal’s anatomy and physiology (BMS2062) and their role in the ecosystems (BMS2070) and in the develop of microbial communities and antibiotic resistance (BMS2044). Furthermore, in the final year, you will apply those principles to animal diversity (BMS3095) and animal behaviour (BMS3096) 

Comprehending the principles of evolution represents one of the key aspects to study and understand every aspect of life. This module will provide the basis to fully appreciate why organisms look, behave, and are built in the way we can see them today, and how the same principles and selective pressures acts on virus, bacteria, plants, and animals. We will cover the concepts of evolution by natural selection (and how the theory was developed and is currently supported), as well as all the other forces responsible for the evolutive process. We will also study how genomes evolve, bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, species co-evolve and how we became humans. We will also provide analytic tools to be applied to the study of genomic analysis during an hand-on lab practical. 

Module provider

School of Biosciences

Module Leader

SANTORELLI Lorenzo (Biosciences)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 102

Lecture Hours: 25

Seminar Hours: 5

Tutorial Hours: 5

Laboratory Hours: 3

Guided Learning: 8

Captured Content: 2

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Introduction to module, genetic & evolutionary concepts 

Basic genetics, mutation, natural selection and survival of the fittest, population drift, isolation and mass extinctions; evidence for evolution and phylogeny 

Darwin and theory of evolution by natural selection 

The Origin of life (molecules of Life and the origins of cells), species and the tree of Life. 

Principle of taxonomy and phylogeny 

Sexual selection in animal 

Evolution of sociality, conflict and cooperation (in animal, plants and microbes) 

How evolution drives resistance to antibiotics and pesticides  

Principles of Hamiltonian medicine 

Practical on phylogenetic analysis. 

Evolution of genomes and genomic medicine 

Evolution of hominids 

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment

Alternative assessment for 'Group poster presentation' is an 'equivalent exercise (1500 word written report) with provided dataset from original assessment'   

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate both their subject knowledge and their transferable (including cognitive and practical / professional) skills.  The former (LO1-5) will predominantly be tested by a short answer style examination (with an element of choice).  The latter (LO6-8) will predominantly be tested in a poster summary of the class practical on biodiversity, which will incorporate elements of species identification and classification, and numerical data presentation.  Effective group working will also be tested in this assessment.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

·         Group poster presentation: 30%
Summary of class biodiversity data (using appropriate presentation formats) incorporating an overview of the classification of one exemplar species of choice.  Posters will be submitted online together with a short video to present the content.  Marks will be awarded on the basis of the poster and presentation.

·         Examination: 70%
90 min exam; 10 short answer questions and 30 MCQs

Formative assessment and feedback

Students can obtain formative feedback from a variety of sources:

  • verbal feedback following lectures or during tutorials

  • verbal feedback from academics during fieldwork

  • feedback to specific queries via email, with responses being made available to all via SurreyLearn or during tutorials as appropriate

  • automated feedback to SurreyLearn quizzes (overall mark, answers and feedback comments to each question) and answers to worksheets provided for self assessment

  • formative feedback on group working and posters will be available, on request

  • exemplar questions will be made available via SurreyLearn, with peer assessment during final tutorial

Why are we doing this?  

The assessment strategy is designed to balance issues relating to theory (via a written Strategic management Plan) and procedure and practice (via a practice-based assessment) to provide students with a holistic approach to testing their knowledge and skills in relation to animal phylogeny and taxonomy. It is further designed to allow students to develop and test their knowledge and their skills in a manner that not only enhances their understanding of the topic, but also allows them to situate it within the wider context of the subject area, thereby contributing to the coherency of their learning journey.  

Module aims

  • Introduce the concepts of evolution by natural selection and any other forces
  • Explain how evolution shapes traits of extinct and extant organisms
  • Explain how to generate phylogenetic trees
  • Describe how genomes evolve and new species arises
  • Provide tools to analyse protein and genomic database
  • Illustrate how population become resistant to antibiotics and other external factors
  • Explain how evolution shaped life and biodiversity

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Explain the principles of evolution: the basic genetic inheritance; the role of mutation; natural selection & survival of the fittest; population drift & isolation K
002 Overview the history of life on earth, reviewing the current evidence for the origin of species K
003 Overview the principle branches of the tree of life focussing on key evolutionary developments in defining the organisms which constitute each branch K
004 Describe how organisms are classified and identified, and be able to generate and use simple classification keys KC
005 Describe the roles that both geography and evolution play in defining ecosystems, with specific examples to support your knowledge K
006 Make accurate observations and record data. PT
007 Utilise keys, field guides and other resources in the classification of species. CPT
008 Present numerical data in an appropriate, scientific manner. PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to: Stimulate student interest in the diversity of life, where this originates from, and how ecosystems develop and evolve from the physical and biological factors that influence them. Much of the material content will be delivered by lecture, but it is envisage that class discussions will form an element of at least some of these in order to promote deeper thought and understanding. Practical field working sessions will focus on some of the identification and classification skills that underpin ecological study, as well as promoting generic skills such as data presentation and group working.

The delivery of the skills element will be both in class and practical. 

The class component will be based upon student focused learning based on lectures, seminars, vision of documentaries, quizzes. These live sessions comprise of tutorials and practicals, and are reserved for active student learning to enhance understanding 

The computer lab component will focus on generating phylogenetic tree and understanding how to use genome/protein databases.  

The group assignment will allow for working in teams that will allow peer-peer interaction, thus aiding personal understanding and developing transferable/ social interaction skills. 

Enable students to highlight areas that require further explanation or clarification. 

Regular in-class quizzes will provide formative feedback on students’ understanding of the main concepts and content.  

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: BMS1040

Other information

Resourcefulness & resilience: The assessments for this module rely on the ability to interpret and understand primary research literature, data provided during the computer lab practical. The coursework will allow students to develop teamwork skills, problem-solving, decision-making, self-efficacity, self-regulation and confidence. 

Global & cultural capabilities: Students will work in small groups during the practical sessions and for an assignment which will encourage and engage students in working with other students from different cultures and abilities to achieve an end goal. 

Sustainability: The module will consider the principles on which biodiversity and conservation are based, as well as the main concepts on how these are maintained.  

Digital capabilities: Students will learn how to use specific software to analyse database and produce phylogenetic trees. For the CW, they will produce a poster using Microsoft Suits software as PowerPoint. Students will also utilize the virtual learning environment SurreyLearn and other digital resources. The skills learned will be applied in the assignments they undertake to equip the students for a variety of modern professions.  

Employability: Transferable skills such as the ability to work in a team, report findings in a scientific manner and analysis of data will equip students for a variety of modern professions.

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2025/6 academic year.