ARCH08038 2019 Human Evolution

General Details

Full Title
Human Evolution
Transcript Title
Human Evolution
N/A %
Subject Area
ARCH - Archaeology
ESCI - Environmental Science
08 - NFQ Level 8
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2019 - Full Academic Year 2019-20
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Frances Lucy, Noel Connaughton, Shirley Markley, Ana Vale, Fiona Beglane
Programme Membership
SG_SAPPL_H08 201900 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Applied Archaeology SG_SAPPL_K08 201900 Level 8 Honours Degree Add-on in Applied Archaeology

This module introduces students to the basic principles of human evolution. Beginning with the very first organisms on earth it follows the evolutionary pathway that has led to the diverse range of species present on earth today, before focusing in on the ancestors and close relatives of modern humans. The module considers the genetic and physical evidence for these developments as well as examining the evidence for cultural development.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Explain the principles on which human evolution is based.


Define the principal methods used in studying human evolution.


Demonstrate an understanding of the practical procedures analysing hominid remains.


Analyse, evaluate and draw conclusions from data obtained in the laboratory and/or data presented in problem-solving exercises.


Effectively communicate scientific principles to a peer audience.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

This module will be delivered fulltime. This will include lectures, presentations, discussions and laboratory practicals augmented by  independent learning. This approach is expected to address student learning needs.

Module Assessment Strategies

This module is 100% Continuous Assessment. 40% of the assessment will be based on a written project submitted mid-semester. 40% of the assessment will be based on practical laboratory skills. These will ensure relevance to the world of archaeological consulting and research. 20% of the assessment will be in the form of a presentation at the end of the semester, which will develop the student's ability to communicate technical information.

Repeat Assessments

Repeat Continuous Assessment and/or Final Exam

Module Dependencies


Indicative Syllabus

Explain the principles on which human evolution is based.

  • Background to human evolution
  • Mammals and Primates
  • Early hominids
  • The spread of hominids outside Africa
  • The interaction of modern and pre-modern humans
  • Development of culture and society

Define the principal methods used in studying human evolution.

  • Archaeological evidence for human evolution
  • Methods used to study human evolution
  • Anatomical developments
  • Ethical considerations

Demonstrate an understanding of the practical procedures analysing hominid remains.                

  • Laboratory practicals

Analyse, evaluate and draw conclusions from data obtained in the laboratory and/or data presented in problem-solving exercises.        

  • Laboratory practicals
  • Case studies

Effectively communicate scientific principles to a peer audience.

  • Presentation based on case studies

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
100 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Evolution project Project Assignment 40 % Week 7 1,2,4
2 Lab Practical Continuous Assessment Assignment 40 % OnGoing 2,3,4
3 Continuous Assessment Continuous Assessment Assignment 20 % End of Semester 1,3,4,5

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Science Laboratory Lecture - Archaeology Lab 1.5 Weekly 1.50
Laboratory Practical Science Laboratory Practical - Archaeology Lab 0.5 Weekly 0.50
Independent Learning Not Specified Self study 5 Weekly 5.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 2.00 Hours

Required & Recommended Book List

Recommended Reading
1998-12-30 Human Evolution: An Introduction to Man's Adaptations Aldine Transaction
ISBN 0202020428 ISBN-13 9780202020426
Recommended Reading
2006-10-01 From Lucy to Language: Revised, Updated, and Expanded Simon & Schuster
ISBN 0743280644 ISBN-13 9780743280648
Recommended Reading
2002-01-23 The Human Fossil Record: Terminology and Craniodental Morphology of Genus Homo (Europe) v. 1 Wiley-Blackwell
ISBN 0471319279 ISBN-13 9780471319276
Recommended Reading
2002-02-21 Primate Dentition: An Introduction to the Teeth of Non-human Primates (Cambridge Studies in Biological and Evolutionary Anthropology) Cambridge University Press
ISBN 0521652898 ISBN-13 9780521652896

Primate dentitions vary widely both between genera and between species within a genus. This book is a comparative dental anatomy of the teeth of living non-human primates that brings together information from many disciplines to present the most useful and comprehensive database possible in one consolidated text. The core of the book consists of comparative morphological and metrical descriptions with analyses, reference tables and illustrations of the permanent dentitions of 85 living primate species to establish a baseline for future investigations. The book also includes information on dental microstructure and its importance in understanding taxonomic relationships between species, data on deciduous dentitions, prenatal dental development and ontogenetic processes, and material to aid age estimation and life history studies. Primate Dentition will be an important reference work for researchers in primatology, dental and physical anthropology, comparative anatomy and dentistry as well as vertebrate paleontology and veterinary science.

Recommended Reading
2008-08-21 The Evolution of Homo Erectus: Comparative Anatomical Studies of an Extinct Human Species Cambridge University Press
ISBN 0521449987 ISBN-13 9780521449984
Recommended Reading
1994-01-31 Origins of Anatomically Modern Humans (Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology) Springer
ISBN 0306446758 ISBN-13 9780306446757

Hard to find

Recommended Reading
1995-08-01 Human Evolution in China: A Metric Description of Fossils and a Review of the Sites Oxford University Press Inc
ISBN 0195074327 ISBN-13 9780195074321
Recommended Reading
2002-05-23 The Transition To Language (Oxford Linguistics) (Studies in the Evolution of Language) Oxford University Press, U.S.A.
ISBN 0199250669 ISBN-13 9780199250660

The evolutionary emergence of each facet of human language can be viewed as a 'transition'. This book explores how different transitions took place, their preconditions, and their consequences. Among the questions it addresses are: what physiological and psychological differences between us and other animals lie at the heart of our superior capacity for language? Was the pre-linguistic period of humankind characterized by words without syntax, syntax without meaning, gesture without speech, or all, or none, of these? Once a community is ready and able to develop language, what internal and external factors trigger its emergence? How are we to interpret the archaeological evidence of early tool-making abilities, relative to the presence, or absence, of language? In what social circumstances could language have avoided being immediately harnessed for deception, so that it became too dangerous and unreliable to be of value? Was the universal form of language determined by pre-existing psychological capabilities, or by natural constraints in communication? Has language finished evolving? If not, how different were linguistic structures used by our early ancestors from those that we use today? This investigation into one of the enduring mysteries of humankind brings together original contributions from linguists, archaeologists, anthropologists, psychologists, biologists, primatologists, and researchers in artificial intelligence. They offer the reader up-to-the-minute debates in the field of language evolution.

Recommended Reading
2002-04-11 The Primate Fossil Record (Cambridge Studies in Biological and Evolutionary Anthropology) Cambridge University Press
ISBN 0521663156 ISBN-13 9780521663151
Recommended Reading
2003-10-01 Neanderthals in the Levant: Behavioral Organization and the Beginnings of Human Modernity (New Approaches to Anthropological Archaeology) Continnuum-3PL
ISBN 0826458033 ISBN-13 9780826458032
Recommended Reading
2004-03-11 Neanderthals and Modern Humans: An Ecological and Evolutionary Perspective (Cambridge Studies in Biological and Evolutionary Anthropology) Cambridge University Press
ISBN 0521820871 ISBN-13 9780521820875

Neanderthals and Modern Humans develops the theme of the close relationship between climate change, ecological change and biogeographical patterns in humans during the Pleistocene. In particular, it challenges the view that Modern Human 'superiority' caused the extinction of the Neanderthals between 40 and 30 thousand years ago. Clive Finlayson shows that to understand human evolution, the spread of humankind across the world and the extinction of archaic populations, we must move away from a purely theoretical evolutionary ecology base and realise the importance of wider biogeographic patterns including the role of tropical and temperate refugia. His proposal is that Neanderthals became extinct because their world changed faster than they could cope with, and that their relationship with the arriving Modern Humans, where they met, was subtle.

Recommended Reading
2013-10-04 From Biped to Strider: "The Emergence Of Modern Human Walking, Running, And Resource Transport" Springer
ISBN 030648000X ISBN-13 9780306480003
Recommended Reading
2004-05-20 Bones, Stones and Molecules: "Out of Africa" and Human Origins Academic Press
ISBN 0121569330 ISBN-13 9780121569334


Recommended Reading
2006-11-01 The Evolution of Modern Humans in Africa: A Comprehensive Guide (African Archaeology Series) Altamira Press
ISBN 0759101191 ISBN-13 9780759101197
Recommended Reading
2001-01-01 In the Mind's Eye: Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Evolution of Human Cognition (Archaeological Series) International Monographs in Prehistory
ISBN 1879621304 ISBN-13 9781879621305
Recommended Reading
2004-01-01 Dragon Bone Hill: An Ice-Age Saga of Homo Erectus Oxford University Press
ISBN 0195152913 ISBN-13 9780195152913

Dragon Bone Hill Researching the famous fossil site of Dragon Bone Hill in China, scientists Noel T. Boaz and Russell L. Ciochon retell the story of the cave's unique species of early human, Homo erectus. Full description

Recommended Reading
2005-08-25 The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved (Oxford Studies in the Evolution of Language) OUP Oxford
ISBN 0199279403 ISBN-13 9780199279401

In crystal-clear style Robbins Burling presents the most convincing account of the origins of language ever published. He traces language back to its earliest origins, charts the course of its development, and gives a unified picture of the sweep of language evolution.

Recommended Reading
2005-05-19 The Complete World of Human Evolution Thames & Hudson
ISBN 0500051321 ISBN-13 9780500051320

The Complete World of Human Evolution Human domination of our earth is now so complete that it is easy to forget how recently our role in the history of our planet began: the earliest apes evolved around 20 million years ago, yet Homo Sapiens has existed for a mere 160,000 years. Full description

Recommended Reading
2006-03-20 The Emergence of Culture: The Evolution of a Uniquely Human Way of Life Springer
ISBN 9780387305127 ISBN-13 9780387305127
Recommended Reading
1990-01-28 An Introduction to Human Evolutionary Anatomy Academic Press
ISBN 0120455919 ISBN-13 9780120455911

An Introduction to Human Evolutionary Anatomy An anthropologist and an anatomist have combined their skills in this book to provide the essentials of anatomy and the means to apply these to investigations into hominid form and function. Full description

Recommended Reading
2007-12-06 Rethinking the Human Revolution (McDonald Institute Monographs) McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
ISBN 1902937465 ISBN-13 9781902937465

Rethinking the Human Revolution Arising from a conference Rethinking the Human Revolution reconsiders all of the central issues in modern human behavioural, cognitive, biological and demographic origins in the light of new information and new theoretical perspectives which have emerged over the past twenty years of intensive research in this field. Full description

Module Resources

Journal Resources



Journal of Human Evolution

URL Resources


Other Resources


Additional Information

Timetable as a 2 hour block in the archaeology lab (theory and practical) to maximise interactive mode of delivery of theory and practical and allow access to replica materials.