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Becoming Human: The Science of Us

Why should I take this Trinity Elective?

If you’re reading these words, we have something in common: we’re both human. But what exactly does being human really mean? Are there things that make us uniquely different to the other animals we share this planet with? Can we ever hope to catalogue what these differences are, or discover when, where and why we acquired them? This module explores how 21st century science is seeking to answer the big questions about our origins and about our relationships with each other and the rest of the natural world. So, if you’re interested in finding out a bit more about yourself, and why an accurate understanding of our past has profound implications for how we live our lives today, then this is the elective for you...

What will I learn?

  • You will learn how the scientific analysis of fossil bones and stone tools, combined with the study of modern and ancient genetic codes, can be used to unlock the hidden history of our species.
  • You will discover the relative strengths and weaknesses of different kinds of data, and the sorts of questions that a scientific approach can (and cannot) answer.
  • You will be able to explain how an understanding of our past can provide unique insights into topical issues such as diet, human health and disease, migration, ‘race’, language and national identity.

What will I do?

  • Attend a series of lectures presenting the foundational material required to understand the science of human evolution.
  • Engage in classroom / online discussion to develop themes presented in lectures.
  • Complete problem-based online activities linked to topics covered in the lectures.
  • Work collaboratively in a multidisciplinary group to produce and present an educational resource (poster) explaining a chosen aspect of human evolution and its significance for modern day life.

How will this be delivered?

  • Lectures and workshops (3 hrs / week).
  • Self-paced, on-line instructional material (e.g. webcasts) and associated activities.
  • Group-based project work including in-class discussion and poster presentation.

How will this be assessed?

  • Individual mark comprising: Online activities & tests (50%); Self-reflection on group work and peer review (20%).
  • Group mark based on the project and poster presentation (30%)

Who can take this Trinity Elective?

  • Any student eligible to take a Trinity Elective can select this Trinity Elective except for the students from the following programmes: Human Genetics; Genetics.

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