ANHB2215 Biological Anthropology: Human Adaptation and Variation

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 option in the Anatomy and Human Biology; Gender Studies major sequences
  • The area of knowledge for this unit are Life and Health Sciences, Society and Culture
  • Category A broadening unit for Bachelor of Science students where relevant according to the broadening requirements for each student
  • Level 2 elective
Biological anthropology is concerned with the nature of variation and the ways in which the biology and behaviour of humans are influenced by genetic, developmental, ecological and cultural factors. This unit looks at human variation in contemporary populations from the perspective of evolutionary ecology. It focuses on ecological principles as applied to human populations, the emergence of adaptations during the process of gene-environment interaction during development, and the interplay of cultural and biological factors in human behaviour. Topics covered include principles of individual and kin selection, principles of human ecology, genetic sources of variation (beyond mutation), evolution of human development, reproductive and parental investment strategies, biological approach to culture, and evolutionary and developmental perspectives on the human life cycle.
Students are able to (1) learn to appreciate the methods, goals and values of science and the place of evolutionary theory in the sciences; (2) appreciate the value of multidisciplinary perspectives in the biological sciences; (3) understand and clearly define questions about human evolutionary and behavioural biology and ecology, particularly the processes whereby humans adapt to their material and sociocultural environments; and (4) learn and practise critical discussion of social, economic, medical and political issues and debates from human evolutionary and ecological perspectives.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) tutorial participation including prepared responses to tutorial questions; (2) an in-class mid-semester examination
and a final exam; and (3) an analytical paper (semester). Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Unit coordination for this unit alternates each year as follows: Dr Cyril Grueter (2019, and following odd years), Associate Professor Debra Judge (2020, and following even years).
Unit rules
Advisable prior study:
12 points from ANHB1101 Human Biology I: Becoming Human; ANHB1102 Human Biology II: Being Human; BIOL1130 Frontiers in Biology (formerly BIOL1130 Core Concepts in Biology); BIOL1131 Plant and Animal Biology; SCIE1106 Molecular Biology of the Cell; ANTH1101 Being Human: Culture, Identity and Society; ANTH1001 Being Human: Culture, Identity and Society; ANTH1102 Global Change, Local Responses; ANTH1002 Global Change, Local Responses
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week; tutorials: 2
hours per week

Two ethnographies are required:  Nisa (M. Shostak author) and Yanomamo (N. Chagnon, author). Other required reading is provided on-line or in the CMO system at the UWA library.

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.