Evolution and Behaviour

E&B covers a broad range of biological topics with an evolutionary theme, from genetics to behaviour, with a little bit of everything for everyone.

It is a very essay based subject, with one 3 hour essay paper comprising the exam (don’t let this put you off! There will be plenty off opportunities to develop essay skills which are essential in later years). You have a 5 hour practical every other week which can be assessed but the write-ups are really not too difficult, especially as the demonstrators are really helpful.

The materials covered include evolutionary genetics, human evolution, plant and animal diversity, primate intelligence and many more. E&B is often considered the most interesting and in many ways challenging of the biological options, as it requires comprehension more than factual knowledge (though there is a fair amount of knowledge required!)

Even if you are not strictly a biologist, the lectures are very accessible. There will be something in this course that interests you, guaranteed. An added bonus is the opportunity to attend an optional Easter field course which, by all accounts, is good value for money and great fun. There are two trips to choose from: one on the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales and another at Slapton Ley in Devon.

You study quite a wide range of subjects, so there isn’t really one textbook that covers everything. Ridley’s Evolution is recommended, it’s not necessary to buy as the college library has several copies. The Zoology departmental library has a whole shelf of overnight loan books which contain all the books recommended by lecturers, so if in doubt you can find any books needed there.

This course is useful if you want to do Animal Biology or Experimental Psychology Part 1B, and for a variety of Part II courses including Zoology. You might also find that it complements Geology nicely.

Link to course website: http://www.plantsci.cam.ac.uk/teaching/eandb/

The Natural Sciences Society of St John's College