Photo overlooking the totem pole in the Pitt Rivers Museum


During the Final Honour School, students delve more deeply into the subject areas which have been introduced to them in the first year. They will also decide on which three options they would like to take from the following list of 30 subjects. One option is studied in the second year, two are studied in the third year.

Evolution in Health & Medicine

This option course is designed to teach students the fundamentals and current issues in evolutionary medicine. As compared to traditional medical research’s focus on proximate mechanisms, a Darwinian approach allows a shift in perspective in focusing on ultimate levels of analysis, asking novel questions such as why the human body is vulnerable to diseases, is it safe to treat symptoms, why is a modern environment associated with new diseases, or what is the impact of human intervention on the evolution of pathogen virulence and drug resistance. Students will learn to draw on conceptual and methodological tools from evolutionary biology to study medical problems in a broader and interdisciplinary context, linking evolutionary biology to anthropology and current developments in genetics, immunology, microbiology and pharmacology. Hosted within the school of anthropology, the course will emphasize the ways in which an evolutionary perspective enables to re-­‐evaluate the discourse and practices of contemporary western medicine. Students are not required a biological background for attending, as fundamentals of evolutionary theory applied to medicine will be covered in the first week (but see reading list for preparing the course). However, an interest in the study of medicine from a non-conventional approach is essential. 

Last update on 09/12/16 by Robyn Mason.

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