Fall 2019 - BISC 300 D100

Evolution (3)

Class Number: 2677

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 12:30 PM – 1:20 PM
    WMC 3260, Burnaby

    We, Fr 12:30 PM – 1:20 PM
    WMC 3260, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    BISC 202 with a grade of C- or better. Recommended: BISC 204.



The phenomenon of organic evolution, and the major forces leading to changes in allele frequencies over time, i.e. natural selection and genetic drift. Topics include adaptation, speciation, the origin of life, and the major evolutionary trends over geological time. Students with credit for BISC 400 may not take this course for further credit.


Everything in biology – every cell (and so every calcium channel and every helicase), every migration path of every bird, even much of our own behavior and many of our diseases – is the product of ongoing evolution, and within the constraints of the system, the product of ongoing natural selection. We will explore the fundamental properties of this ubiquitous phenomenon and the powerful mechanisms behind it using Freeman & Herron's "Evolutionary Analysis" as our guide. This is a huge field and a required course, so be prepared to dig in.

1. Mechanisms of change 
    Mutation & Migration
The Tree of Life
Quantitative Genetics
3. Adaptation
Studying Adaptation
Sex as an adaptation
Life History Theory
Sexual Selection
Kin Selection  
4. History
The origin and early diversification of life 
Genome Evolution
Evolution of Humans
5. Postscript : Why is evolution so controversial?


  • 6 quizzes (with one missed or tossed without penalty) 20%
  • Three Midterms 50%
  • Argumentation Assignments 15%
  • Podcast 15%
  • No Final Exam!


The quizzes are meant for you to keep up with the course and to review your notes from the lectures.
The midterms are designed to help you digest the textbook.
The argumentation assignment is designed to challenge you to tackle the primary literature, while the podcast is an exercise in science translation of that primary literature. (You don't really understand something until you have to explain it!)



Freeman, S. and J. C. Herron. 2013. Evolutionary Analysis, Fifth edition.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html