Science & Technology
Course Code
BIOL 3700
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course investigates the process of biological evolution and how it has shaped the diversity of life on Earth. Evolutionary analysis is applied to topics such as adaptation, population structure, speciation, the origin of life, reproduction, symbiosis, social interactions, human health, and environmental issues.
Course Content

1. The evidence for evolution:

  • Common ancestry
  • The fossil record
  • Mechanisms of evolution
  • Measuring evolutionary change
  • Cellular and molecular biology

2. History of evolutionary thought:

  • Early history
  • The theory of evolution by natural selection
  • The modern synthesis
  • Contemporary views

3. Origin and maintenance of variation:

  • Sources of variation
  • Major types of variation
  • Role of mutation
  • Measuring variation

4. Natural selection:

  • Postulates of natural selection
  • Causes and outcomes of selection
  • Empirical studies of natural selection
  • Artificial vs. natural selection
  • Modes of selection

5. Phylogenies and comparative methods:

  • Basic structure and properties of phylogenies
  • Applications and limitations
  • Methods used to build and test phylogenies
  • Data usage

6. Population genetics:

  • Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium
  • Tracking allelic vs. genotypic frequencies
  • Effects of genetic drift, gene flow, natural selection, non-random mating, and mutation
  • Neutral theory of molecular evolution

7. Quantitative genetics and genetic linkage:

  • Studying quantitative traits
  • Measuring heritability
  • Genetic techniques related to quantitative traits
  • Linkage equilibrium and disequilibrium

8. Adaptive evolution:

  • Ways to study adaptations
  • Evolution of phenotypic plasticity
  • Evolutionary tradeoffs and constraints
  • Exaptations
  • Behavioural ecology

9. Molecular evolution and evolution of genetic systems:

  • Evolution of the genetic code
  • DNA sequence evolution
  • Transposable elements
  • Organelle genomes

10. Evolution of sexual reproduction:

  • Sexual vs. asexual reproduction
  • Female choice
  • Sexual selection
  • Evolution of mating systems

11. Evolution of sociality:

  • Kin selection theory
  • Evolution of altruism
  • Eusociality
  • Multilevel selection

12. Coevolution:

  • Red Queen Hypothesis
  • Geographic Mosaic Theory
  • Antagonistic vs. mutualistic coevolutionary interactions
  • Coevolution and diversification

13. Evolution of development:

  • Developmental genes
  • Patterns of expression of developmental genes
  • Interplay between evolution and development

14. Life-history evolution:

  • Life-history traits
  • Major evolutionary tradeoffs
  • Parent-offspring conflict
  • Evolution of aging

15. Evolutionary medicine:

  • Evolution of human pathogens
  • Evolution of human response to disease
  • Evolution of virulence
  • Drug resistance

16. Speciation:

  • Speciation process
  • Mechanisms of reproductive isolation, divergence and interbreeding
  • Rate of speciation
  • Adaptive radiation

17. Origins of life and Extinction:

  • RNA World Hypothesis
  • History of life and major transitions
  • Fossil vs. phylogenetic evidence
  • Mass extinctions

18. Human evolution:

  • Origin and diversification of humans
  • Evolutionary history of hominids
  • Evolution of human behaviours
  • Cultural evolution

19. Evolution and the environment:

  • Evolutionary ecology
  • Biological diversity and biological invasions
  • Global warming
Learning Activities
  • Lectures
  • Discussion groups
  • Assignments
  • Research project
Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will present a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester. Evaluation will be based on the following:

Assignments and tests  20-25 %
Research project 20-25 %
Midterm examination 25-30 %
Final examination 25-30 %
Total 100 %
Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

1. Describe the mechanisms of biological evolution.

2. Apply evolutionary reasoning in biological sciences.

3. Describe and illustrate the major lines of evidence for evolution.

4. Explain the population and quantitative genetics underlying evolutionary theory.

5. Name the requirements for and outcomes of natural selection as well as the biological levels at which selection can act.

6. Explain current theories of the origins of life and the evolution of cellular organisms.

7. Apply evolutionary analysis to the study of life histories, sexual reproduction, sociality, development, speciation, extinction, human evolution, human health, environmental issues, and other selected biological topics.

Textbook Materials

Consult the Douglas College Bookstore for the latest required textbooks and materials. Example textbooks and materials may include:


C. Zimmer & D.J. Emlen. Evolution: Making Sense of Life, (current edition). W.H. Freeman & Co.

J.C. Herron & S. Freeman. Evolutionary Analysis, (current edition). Pearson Education




Courses listed here must be completed either prior to or simultaneously with this course:

  • No corequisite courses


Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

  • No equivalency courses

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for BIOL 3700
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU BIOL 3XXX (3)
Langara College (LANG) LANG BIOL 2XXX (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU BISC 2XX (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) DOUG BIOL 3205 (5) & DOUG BIOL 3700 (3) = SFU BISC 202 (3) & SFU BISC 2XX (2) & SFU BISC 300 (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU BIOL 3XXX (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU BIOL 3XX (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO BIOL 250 (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV BIOL 2nd (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC BIOL 323 (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV BIO 416 (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC BIOL 3XX (1.5)

Course Offerings

Winter 2023

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