Summer 2023 - BISC 300 D100

Evolution (3)

Class Number: 1635

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 8 – Aug 4, 2023: Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30–1:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Aug 15, 2023
    Tue, 12:00–3:00 p.m.

  • 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.


Professor’s Statement 
My objective is to provide students with an understanding of evolutionary concepts and theory, including history, controversies and misunderstandings, and the power of scientific explanation.  By providing background and examples of studies that illustrate the reality of evolutionary change, students will be able to apply evolutionary thinking to any biological discipline.  Reading, thinking, and discussions in tutorials are key elements to success and a good grade.

Sequence of topics
The required textbook by Zimmer and Emlen (2019) has 18 chapters. We will cover all chapter topics during this course, but not all in the same detail! Attendance at lectures and following suggested readings in the textbook is your best guide to the emphasis given to various topics. 

We will cover the textbook in the order of the chapters, after the introductory week, when I will also cover some related topics not covered in the text, but relevant to the broad study of evolutionary biology (cosmology, and some origin of life concepts).


  • • Midterm 1 20%
  • • Midterm 2 25%
  • • Final Exam (3 hours) 40%
  • • Tutorial (5% for attendance and participation; 10% for a short presentation) 15%


Mode of Teaching: 

In person lectures on MWF, and in person tutorials.  Midterm exams will be held during the 50-minute lecture times.



Required textbook is available as paper copies or digitally.


D.J. Emlen and C. Zimmer. (2020, 3rd edition). Evolution, Making Sense of Life. Freeman, Macmillan Learning. 


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at:

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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.


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.