Learning outcomes of the course unit
Students are expected to learn about all aspects of human evolution, and in particular how molecular data (genetic but not only) contribute to our understanding of the history of our lineage.
Results from scientific articles will be presented to discuss key topics, showing how hypotheses are tested and models explaining the data are build.
Students will be asked to contribute to the lectures by getting involved in the discussions, providing the opportunity for actively engaging with the material presented.
Using the material taught in the course, students will be able to assess the significance of new findings related to human evolution.
Course contents summary
The first part of the course will focus on primate diversity; the second part will explore hominin evolution, the third part will provide on overview of human genetic variation and the processes shaping it.
Primates: evolution and diversity, population structure, apes population genomics, mating strategies and genetic variation in apes
Human Lineage: the third chimpanzee, early hominins, the emergence of Homo, meeting the relatives (Neanderthals)
Human Evolutionary Genetics: human variation, the emergence of modern humans, the peopling of the world, culture and genetic variation, adaptations, myths in human evolution, forensic genetics, personal genomics, ethical issues in molecular anthropology
Jobling et al, 2013 Human Evolutionary Genetics Garland Science
Boyd& Silk, 2018 How Humans Evolved Norton 8th Edition
Relevant articles will be mentioned in the lectures
The course will be based on lectures. During the course the students will be invited to actively engage in the critical discussion of specific topics. The course is in attendance. Lectures will be recorded and will be accessible for a week.
Assessment methods and criteria
The exam will be based on the submission of an extended essay, followed by an oral discussion.
The essay should develop from one of the topics discussed during the course and be up-to-date with the most recent scientific literature. The topic of the essay should be of general interest in the field of molecular anthropology; students are invited to discuss potential topics with the course organiser. The format of the essay should be a review in the style of a general review journal such as the Trends or Current Opinion series. Examples will be presented during the course.
In the oral discussion the content of the essay will be explored in relation to the material presented in the course and more generally for its relevance for the field of molecular anthropology. During the oral discussion the student will be expected to be able to present and discuss any section of the essay, the relevance of the listed references and explore links with other parts of the course.
The essay will have to be submitted in advance of the oral discussion to the examiner (deadline to be defined but not less than a week before the oral discussion); a printed and an electronic version (identical) should be provided; an additional printed copy should be taken by the student to the oral discussion.
The final mark will take in consideration both the written essay and the oral discussion.
The essay should be no longer than 3,000 words including an abstract (max 250 words) and legends to figures/tables, but excluding references.
At the end of each essay a reference list of the material cited in the text should be included, where the publication information (authors- surname, year of publication, title, journal name - in Italics, issue and pages) are all provided.
Raveane et al, 2019 Population structure of modern-day Italians reveals patterns of ancient and archaic ancestries in Southern Europe. Science Advances 5(9): eaaw3492
For books, see examples above (adding the relevant set of pages at the end).
When referencing articles, books, etc in the main text, please indicate the surname of the author, followed by the year (Example, 1972). Up to three authors, all the surnames should be mentioned (One, Two and Three, 1972); for more than 3 authors, use the first author followed by et al (e.g. Example et al, 1972).
“.and many events of gene-flow have been identified (Raveane et al, 2019).”
Students should be aware that presenting someone else’s work as their own without full acknowledgement is considered plagiarism, and it is unacceptable. Copy-pasting sections of someone else work as well trivial modifications of passages are considered examples of plagiarism, and are expected to be avoided in the preparation of the essay. All published and unpublished material, whether in manuscript, printed or electronic form, is covered under this definition.
To avoid plagiarism you need to use your own words to introduce the work of someone else and properly acknowledge all sources that have been used. This is normal practice in academia and is similarly expected by students.