Anthropology (ANTH) 278

Human Evolution and Diversity (Revision 3)

ANTH 278 Course website

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study
Video component.*
*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

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ANTH 278 is an introductory level physical anthropology course designed to provide students with an understanding of human evolution and diversity from a biological perspective. The course is divided into five parts and begins with an introduction to physical anthropology within the discipline of anthropology. Part Two presents a history of the development of evolutionary theory, and discusses the biological basis for human evolution and adaptation. Part Three covers the ecology, physiology and social behaviour of nonhuman primates. Part Four explores the origins of our hominid ancestors, with particular reference to reconstructions of physiology, ecology and behaviour. The course concludes with an overview of contemporary human evolution, including Neanderthals, anatomically modern humans, and modern features of human variation and adaptation.


The course consists of the following fifteen units.

  • Unit 1: Introduction to Physical Anthropology

Part 1: Heredity and Evolution

  • Unit 2: The Development of Evolutionary Theory
  • Unit 3: The Biological Basis of Life
  • Unit 4: Heredity and Evolution

Part 2: Primates

  • Unit 5: An Overview of the Primates
  • Unit 6: Fundamentals of Primate Behaviour
  • Unit 7: Models for Human Evolution

Part 3: Hominid Evolution

  • Unit 8: Processes of Macroevolution: Mammalian/Primate Evolutionary History
  • Unit 9: Paleoanthropology: Reconstructing Early Hominid Behaviour and Ecology
  • Unit 10: Hominid Origins
  • Unit 11: Homo erectus and Contemporaries
  • Unit 12: Neanderthals and Other Archaic Homo sapiens
  • Unit 13: Homo sapiens sapiens

Part 4: Contemporary Human Evolution

  • Unit 14: Microevolution in Modern Human Populations
  • Unit 15: Human Variation and Adaptation


To receive credit for ANTH 278, you must achieve a minimum grade of “D” (50 percent) on both the mid-term and final examinations, 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%
3-Lab & Workbook Assignments (20% ea.) 60%
Midterm Exam 15%
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


Jurmain, Robert, Lynn Kilgore, Wenda Trevathan, with Russell L. Ciochon. 2008 Introduction to Physical Anthropology. 11th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

White, Daniel D. 2008. Study Guide for Jurmain, Kilgore, Trevathan, and Ciochon's Introduction to Physical Anthropology. 11th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

France, Diane L. 2004 Lab Manual and Workbook for Physical Anthropology. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadworths/Thomson Learning.

Other Materials

The course materials also includes a course manual.

The course is also accompanied by a set of videos, available from the AU library. As well, a set of measuring instruments, required for the lab exercises, is also 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 3, April 7, 2008.

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