Anthropology (ANTH) 278

Human Evolution and Diversity (Revision 4)

ANTH 278 Course Cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online with a Video component.* And with eTextbook
*Overseas students, please contact the University Library before registering in a course that has an audio/visual component.

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Anthropology Studies home page

ANTH 278 is not available for challenge.

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Anthropology 278: Human Evolution and Diversity is designed to introduce students to the varied subjects and avenues of study that comprise the field of biological anthropology. In so doing, students will gain an appreciation of what biological anthropology is and how it contributes to our understanding of who humans are as a species, when we emerged onto the global landscape, and what our bones, bodies, and historical artifacts can tell us about how we came to be here. As an introductory course, the material presented is primarily intended to engage students in the story of ourselves, and the hope is that students will be inspired to further explore the various topics and sub-fields that are available to biological anthropologists, either as an academic (or professional) pursuit, or simply out of personal interest.


The course consists of the following fifteen units.

  • Unit 1: Introduction to Physical Anthropology

Part 1: Mechanisms of Evolution

  • Unit 2: Science and the Development of Evolutionary Theory
  • Unit 3: The Biological Basis of Human Variation
  • Unit 4: From Variant to Species

Part 2: The Primates

  • Unit 5: What it Means to be a Primate
  • Unit 6: Primate Behavioural Ecology
  • Unit 7: Primate Evolution

Part 3: Hominin Evolution

  • Unit 8: What it Means to be a Hominin
  • Unit 9: Hominin Origins: From Ape to Australopithecus
  • Unit 10: The Emergence of the Genus Homo
  • Unit 11: The Advent of Humanity: Archaic Hominins and the Neanderthals
  • Unit 12: The Emergence of Anatomically Modern Humans

Part 4: Contemporary Human Evolution

  • Unit 13: Contemplating Modern Human Diversity
  • Unit 14: Biology of Contemporary and Past Populations
  • Unit 15: Human Legacies, Human Prospects


To receive credit for ANTH 278, you must achieve a minimum grade of D (50 percent) on the final examination, and an overall grade of D (50 percent) for the entire course. The weightings for the course activities are as follows:

Activity Weighting
Quiz 5%
Assignment 1: Lab & Workbook 22%
Assignment 2: Lab & Workbook 18%
Midterm Exam 15%
Assignment 3: Lab & Workbook 20%
Final Exam 20%
Total 100%

The midterm and final examinations for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Keenleyside, Anne & Lazenby, Richard. A Human Voyage: Exploring Biological Anthropology, 2nd edition (2015). Nelson Education.

France, Diane L. 2018. Lab Manual and Workbook for Physical Anthropology. 8th ed. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

A print version of the eText may be available for purchase from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided on the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.

Other Materials

The course materials also includes a course manual.

The course is also accompanied by measuring instruments, required for the lab exercises, available from the AU library.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 4, Feb 8, 2019.

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