SGBB20001U Ancient DNA and Evolution

Volume 2022/2023

BSc Programme in Biology


A general introduction to the study of evolution and paleoenvironmental reconstruction using ancient DNA and other biomolecules. In a series of interactive lectures and practicals we will cover diverse topics including basics in evolutionary biology, palaeoenvironmental reconstruction, demographic inferences from genetic data, and the spread and evolution of domesticated plants and animals. In addition, the course will include a 3-week wet-lab practical introducing basic molecular techniques. The GLOBE Institute at KU is a leader in this field, and the course will showcase some of the ground-breaking research currently being carried out at the institution.

Learning Outcome


At the end of the course, the student is expected to be able to:

  • Describe how ancient DNA technologies are being used to reconstruct palaeoenvironments
  • Explain how demographic inferences can be drawn from genetic data of wild and domestic populations
  • Evaluate how current laboratory techniques can be used to most effectively to generate ancient genetic data



At the end of the course, the student is expected to be able to:

  • Perform a simple ancient DNA experiment in the lab
  • Implement basic tools used in the analysis of ancient DNA data  
  • Critically assess the validity of ancient DNA results



At the end of the course, the student is expected to be able to:

  • Evaluate and critically assess the results and impact(s) of selected seminal studies in ancient DNA
  • Assemble a research outline for an ancient DNA project addressing an open research question, incorporating the knowledge and skills acquired during the course

Relevant literature will be provided through Absalon.

Lectures, interactive discussion groups and a 3-week wet-lab practical.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 24
  • Preparation
  • 91
  • Laboratory
  • 42
  • Project work
  • 24
  • Exam
  • 25
  • Total
  • 206
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 min
Written assignment, 72 hour (take home assignment)
Type of assessment details
Students will be assessed based on one short written take-home assignment and one 20-minute final oral exam. Students will have 20 mins preparation time for the oral exam. The grade is based on an overall assessment.
Exam registration requirements

To be admitted to the exam students must have delivered all of the course assignments and they must have attended at least 80% of the classes.

Only certain aids allowed

Students are only allowed to use materials handed out by the examiners during the 20 min. preparation for the oral exam.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

To be admitted to the re-exam the student must have attended 80% of classes and submitted all course assignments, including the 2-page essay, no later than 2 weeks before the scheduled re-exam.

Criteria for exam assesment

In order to obtain the grade 12 the student should convincingly and accurately demonstrate the knowledge, skills and competences described under Learning Outcome.