Sex Evolution and Human Nature - ANTB5650

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 6 15 (7.5) Sarah Johns checkmark-circle


Much of the material presented in this course forms part of the relatively new academic discipline of evolutionary psychology/anthropology. The goal of this course is to discover and understand the principles of evolutionary psychology and other complementary paradigms. The module explores human behaviour (primarily human sexual behaviours) from an evolutionary perspective. Topics covered are reproductive and mating strategies, parenting behaviour, kinship, cooperation, survival, status striving, jealously, and aggression. The course will provide an excellent understanding of the deeply biological nature of human behaviour, and develop skills in critical thinking. Students will be encouraged to bring relevant questions and observations to seminars and time will be allocated to deal with them.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22

Private study hours: 128

Total study hours: 150


Available as an elective module
Running last time 2024/25.

Method of assessment

Examination, pre-seen questions, 2 hours (100%)

Reassessment method: Like for Like

*Exams will be in-person*

Indicative reading

Main text:
Human Evolutionary Psychology, Barrett, L., Dunbar, R.I.M & Lycett, J.E. 2002. Palgrave:London.

Supplementary texts:
Why Is Sex Fun?, Diamond, J. 1997. New York: Basic.
The Red Queen, Ridley, M. 1993. New York: Penguin.
Why Sex Matters, Low, B. 1999. Princeton: Princeton U. Press.
Sperm Wars, Baker, R. 1996. New York: Basic.
Primate Sexuality, Dixson, A. Oxford: Oxford U. Press.
Evolutionary Psychology, Swami, V. 2011. West Sussex; BPS Blackwell
Plus primary research from a range of appropriate journals (updated year by year)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 Understand theoretical concerns, methods, and findings of current empirical research in evolutionary anthropology

8.2 Understand aspects of human behaviour in terms of our evolutionary past

8.3 Understand the implications of Darwin's theory of natural selection for human behaviour

8.4 Acquire an in depth knowledge of human reproductive behaviour

8.5 Critically evaluate new research in the field through exposure to anthropological/evolutionary psychology approaches to the study of human behaviour


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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