Spring 2019 - BISC 300 D100

Evolution (3)

Class Number: 2282

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 12:30 PM – 1:20 PM
    SWH 10041, Burnaby

    We, Fr 12:30 PM – 1:20 PM
    BLU 9660, 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.


Introduction to the phenomenon
      Change through time and the Tree of Life  

Mechanisms of change (Selection, mutation, migration and drift)
      Mendelian genetics
      Evolution of Sex
      Quantitative genetics
      The Genomics revolution  

Adaptation (The fit between organism and environment)
      Evolutionary analysis
      Sexual Selection
      Kin Selection
      Evolution and human health  

History of life (How we got here from there)
      Speciation and Extinction
      The Origin and early diversification of life
      Development and Evolution
      Origin and evolution of modern humans  

Postscript : Why is evolution so controversial?


  • 6 quizzes (with one missed or tossed without penalty) 25%
  • Three Midterms 30%
  • Argumentation Assignments 20%
  • Tutorial Project 25%
  • No Final Exam!


The course will be based around the lectures and tutorials as well as the textbook. The quizzes are meant for you to keep up with the course and to review your notes from the lectures and text chapters.

The tutorial project will be organized in mid- January, but will be work done in pairs and will include digesting primary literature and reporting on it both in writing and in presentations to your peers



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