Fall 2021 - BISC 300 D100

Evolution (3)

Class Number: 1585

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

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

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 12, 2021
    3:30 PM – 6:30 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.


  1. Introduction to the mechanisms of evolutionary change

            Mutation & Migration


            Selection 1: Darwin and one or few genes

            Intermezzo: Inferring and interpreting evolutionary trees

            Mutation, migration, drift and selection: SARS-CoV-2

(midterm 1)

  1. Selection & Adaptation

            Selection 2: Fisher and many genes

            Recombination as an Adaptation

            Adaptations in the Reproductive arena

            Life Histories as Adaptations

            Kin Selection 

(midterm 2)

  1. History

            The origin and early diversification of life

            Genome Evolution


            Evolution of Humans

            Postscript: Why is evolution so controversial?


  • 6 quizzes (with two missed or tossed without penalty): 20%
  • Three in-class Midterms: 60%
  • Tutorial Assignment(s): 10%
  • Podcast: 10%


There is no Final Exam.

Please note that this is an in-person course, including all lectures, tutorials and, critically, quizzes and midterms.  If you are unable to come to campus this fall, take heart, because the course is offered more than once a year.

The quizzes are meant for you to keep up with the course and to review your lecture notes.

The midterms are designed to help you digest the textbook, 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!)



Effective immediately, the Department of Biological Sciences is adopting a mandatory mask policy for all areas under Biology’s control and in spaces elsewhere where Biology faculty teach, applying to everyone regardless of vaccination status.


Evolutionary Analysis

By Herron, Jon C., Freeman, Scott, Herron, Jon

Print ISBN-13: 9780321616678

Print ISBN-10: 0321616677

E-ISBNs: 9780321998378

Edition: 5th

Publisher: Pearson

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


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.