Advanced Topics in Human Behaviour - SACO9940

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


The material presented in this module is drawn from the academic disciplines of evolutionary anthropology, human behavioural ecology, and evolutionary psychology. The goal of this module is to explore and understand the principles of evolutionary anthropology and other complementary paradigms. The module explores human behaviour (primarily human sexual behaviours) from a Darwinian perspective. Topics covered are reproductive and mating strategies, parenting behaviour, kinship, cooperation, survival, jealously, and aggression. The module will provide students with an advanced 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.

Seminars will critically examine classic and recent journal articles, considering the quality of research and presentation, and the utility and diversity of using Darwinian approaches to explore and explain human behaviour.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 128
Total study hours: 150


MSc Biological Anthropology

Also available as an Elective Module for other MA/MSc programmes in the School or across the University

Method of assessment

Poster (2,000 words approx.) (80%)
Seminar Participation Folder (No word limit) (20%)

Reassessment methods: 100% coursework.

Indicative reading

Reading list (Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually)

Main texts:

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

Sense and Nonsense, Laland, K.N. & Brown, G.R. 2011. OUP: Oxford.

Evolutionary Psychology: A critical introduction, Swami, V. (Ed.) 2011. BPS Blackwell.

Sexual Selection and the Origins of Human Mating Systems. Dixson, A. 2009. Oxford: Oxford U. Press.

The Psychology of Human Sexuality. Lehmiller, J. 2014.Wiley Blackwell.

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. 1998. Oxford: Oxford U. Press.

The Blank Slate, Pinker, S. 2002. London: Penguin

A Natural History of Rape, Thornhill, R and Palmer, C. 2001. Boston: MIT Press

Why Women have Sex. Meston, C. and Buss, D. 2009. Vintage.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 demonstrate an advanced understanding of evolutionary theory as it applies to human behaviour.

8.2. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of theoretical concerns, methods, and findings of current empirical research in the evolution of human behaviour.

8.3 demonstrate a clear understanding of the implications of Darwin's theory of natural selection for human behaviour

8.4 demonstrate an advanced knowledge of human reproductive behaviour and biology.

8.5 critically evaluate new research in anthropological/evolutionary psychology approaches to the study of human behaviour.

8.6 demonstrate an understanding of methods of data collection and analysis common to evolutionary behavioural studies involving human subjects.

The intended generic learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

9.1 demonstrate advanced critical thinking skills

9.2 demonstrate developed writing skills, such as clarity and presenting analytical results

9.3 demonstrate advanced reading skills

9.4 demonstrate developed oral presentation skills

9.5 demonstrate developed time management and preparation

9.6 demonstrate developed organisation of information in a clear way.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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