Evolution and Biodiversity (BIOL3044)


How did the diversity of life arise? Why are there so many species? Why do animals and plants seem so well designed for their environments? How do we explain patterns of distribution across continents? These are some of the key questions that we will examine in this Unit. The Unit begins with a survey of the history of evolutionary thought, and the so-called 'new synthesis'; the melding of Darwinian evolution, systematics and genetics. The Unit will provide training in the principles, methods, and applications of evolutionary biology including systems of classification, the genetics of speciation and hybrid zones, molecular evolution, reconstruction of phylogenies, population genetics, historical interpretation of geographic distributions, evolution of sex, adaptation, human evolution, and selfish gene theory. Examples from a broad range of organisms and data sources will be used throughout the Unit. This Unit is valuable for students who intend to seek employment in areas such as biodiversity research, bioinformatics, ecology, taxonomy, biological conservation and teaching.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


Two lectures and three practicals per week.


Practical reports and/or presentations (60%), one 1.5-hour exam (40%).


Freeman and Herron (2011) Evolutionary Analysis, Pearson/Prentice Hall

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules


12 credit points of Intermediate BIOL, or (6 credit points of Intermediate BIOL and (MBLG2072 or MBLG2972))


BIOL3944 or BIOL3025 or BIOL3925 or PLNT3003 or PLNT3903

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.