In this certificate, evolutionary biologists, geneticists and ecologists from across Cambridge explore the evidence for evolution in the behaviour, morphology and genomes of living animals and plants as well as in the fossil record. We learn how the process of natural selection affects the way organisms look and behave, how they survive in a changing world, how they reproduce and how these differences are encoded in the genome. We discover how groups of organisms can co-evolve and interact to form complex ecosystems. The course finishes with a look at human evolution and the impacts of artificial selection and anthropogenic changes on evolutionary processes.
The course will be based at Madingley Hall, the headquarters of the Institute of Continuing Education, the University Museum of Zoology, the University Botanic Garden, and Christ’s College, Charles Darwin's College as an undergraduate.
The first and second day-schools will be at the Department of Zoology and Christ’s College in Cambridge on Saturday 14 and Saturday 28 October 2017 respectively. All the other day-schools will take place at Madingley Hall except for the fourth day-school in Lent Term (Unit 2) which will be at the Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge on Saturday 10 March 2018.
What will I be studying?
The programme is arranged into three complementary units which build participants’ knowledge and understanding of evolutionary processes and their outcomes for the way organisms look and behave.
Unit 1: Darwin's idea
Teaching will take place on 4 Saturday day-schools: 14 October 2017 (Department of Zoology), 28 October 2017 (Christ’s College), 18 November 2017 (Madingley Hall) and 9 December 2017 (Madingley Hall).
Unit 1 will introduce participants to the history of Darwin’s discovery, provide evidence for evolution from living organisms and the fossil record, explain modern advances in evolutionary biology, and examine in detail the interplay between an organism’s outward characteristics and its genetics.
Unit 2: Behaviour and biodiversity
Teaching will take place on 5 Saturday day-schools: 13 January, 10 February, 24 February, 3 March and 24 March 2018. The session on 24 February 2018 will be at the Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge.
Unit 2 will take an evolutionary perspective on the behavioural characteristics that organisms display and their consequences for reproduction and survival. It will examine how speciation can occur, species diversity in natural ecosystems, and the interplay between species in functioning communities.
Unit 3: Plants and people
Teaching will take place on 4 Saturday day-schools: 14 April, 19 May, 16 June, and 7 July 2018.
Unit 3 will include a detailed examination of evolution in plants, co-evolution with animals, and the role of selective breeding in producing crop plants. It will consider evolutionary processes with respect to humans and the consequences of global change for evolutionary processes in the future.