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Second cycle
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School of Science
Course unit
SC06100344, A.A. 2017/18

Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2017/18

Information on the course unit
Degree course Second cycle degree in
SC1178, Degree course structure A.Y. 2014/15, A.Y. 2017/18
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Number of ECTS credits allocated 6.0
Type of assessment Mark
Course unit English denomination ANTHROPOLOGY
Website of the academic structure
Department of reference Department of Biology
Mandatory attendance
Language of instruction Italian
Single Course unit The Course unit can be attended under the option Single Course unit attendance
Optional Course unit The Course unit can be chosen as Optional Course unit

Teacher in charge LUCA PAGANI

ECTS: details
Type Scientific-Disciplinary Sector Credits allocated
Educational activities in elective or integrative disciplines BIO/08 Anthropology 6.0

Mode of delivery (when and how)
Period Second semester
Year 1st Year
Teaching method frontal

Organisation of didactics
Type of hours Credits Hours of
Hours of
Individual study
Lecture 6.0 48 102.0 No turn

Start of activities 26/02/2018
End of activities 01/06/2018

Prerequisites: Prior knowledge needed for the classes in Anthropology is that normally provided for students at the final class of the first degree in Natural Sciences. Particularly, the basic understanding of Genetics, Phylogeny, and Evolutionary Biology in their fundamental principles and processes, is required. Students should also have sufficient and basic capacities for argumentation and expression, enabling them to defend a thesis and grasp the contents of a scientific debate, actively participating in the discussion of case-studies. No prior knowledge is requested about specific contents in Population Genetics and Genomics.
Target skills and knowledge: Contents and skills to be acquired at the end of the classes in Anthropology belong mainly to six areas:
1) basic of the scientific method in general and the specificity of scientific inquiries in human evolution with particular focus on the inferences made possible by the most recent genetic advances;
2) essential lines of the genomic revolution and its consequences on the field of Molecular Anthropology;
3) conceptual and terminological analysis scientific papers and how to present them in a public context;
4) basic notions of modern and ancient DNA analysis based on human samples;
5)the peopling of the continents by our species and its interaction with pre-existing archaic hominids;
6) adaptation and differentiation of modern human populations and their expansion and admixtures as consequence of demographic changes and/or technological advances (i.e. Neolithic).
Examination methods: Examination is oral and aims at evaluating the scientific skills acquired, through open-ended questions and requests for argumentation and comparison of different theses and models. The suggested reference books are meant to provide a general basis of knowledge which must be integrated with the material examined during the lectures as well as with the most recent scientific papers in the field of Molecular Anthropology (introduced during the lectures). If chosen by the candidate, the exam may start with the discussion of a specific scientific paper among the ones suggested by the teacher, followed by a discussion and additional questions on various topics from the lectures. Attendance is strongly recommended, due to the teaching by interactive methods and case-studies. Students unable to attend a sizeable number of classes must get in touch with the teacher before to discuss an adequate examination mode.
Assessment criteria: Evaluation criteria are:
- Argumentative skills;
- Accuracy and competence in the terminology adopted during the oral examination;
- Acquired knowledge in the field of Molecular Anthropology;
- Ability to update and put in the right frame the most recent data in the discipline;
- Ability to analyze the case-studies debated during the classes.
Course unit contents: The course aims at deepening the fundamental concepts, principles and analytical methods of Molecular Anthropology within a broader international context. Particularly:
- early phases of human evolution with an overview on the available fossil remains;
- genetic characterization of archaic humans (Neanderthals and Denisova);
- human expansions out of Africa and interactions with pre-existing archaic humans;
- evidences of adaptive introgressions (genetic advantages derived from archaic genetic material);
- peopling of the continents (Eurasia, America, Oceania);
- dating of the divergence between various modern human populations;
- genetic adaptation to the diverse environments encountered inside and outside of Africa;
- how structured is the genetic diversity of our species;
- demographic growth and expansion/admixture events following technological revolutions (i.e. Neolithic);
- patrilinear (Y chromosome) and matrilinear (mtDNA) perspectives on the diversification of modern populations;
- brief overview on the DNA sequencing and genotyping techniques and analyses ;
- introduction to the ground-breaking consequences of ancient DNA (aDNA) in the field of Molecular Anthropology;

These general objectives are addressed through critical discussion of case-studies taken from primary scientific literature on Molecular Anthropology.
Planned learning activities and teaching methods: The course is structured in 24 lectures, two hours each one. Every lesson has a uniform frame, dealing with a specific topic or a case-study. The main connection line of the lectures is the evolutionary history, expansions and local adaptations of Homo sapiens. Students are asked to take a stand and interact with each other, through free discussions, dialogues and questions to the teacher. An interactive and participatory learning emerges from the dialogue. The teacher introduces the concepts and terms of Molecular Anthropology, not in a merely theoretical way but as effectively emerging from the case-studies. For each lesson, the teacher suggests further readings based on specialized papers. During the course there will be presentations of experts (from the faculty or from outside) on specific topics, different from year to year.
Integrative activities are provided every year, working in direct contact with casts and specimens, at the Museum of Anthropology, Department of Biology.
The students of the classes in Anthropology are invited to attend the "Special Lectures on Evolution", with International speakers, held at the Department of Biology every year.
Additional notes about suggested reading: The available materials are:
- 1) Slides for each lesson, made available to students by e-learning a few days after the lesson; PPT presentations allow students to follow the thread of the discussion;
- 2) Textbooks for a general introduction to the subject;
- 3) Recent scientific papers and reviews;
- 4) Further texts (optional) suggested during the classes.
Textbooks (and optional supplementary readings)
  • Diamond, Jared, Guns, germs and steela short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years. London: Vintage, 1998.
  • Mark Jobling, Chris Tyler-Smith, Edward Hollox, Matthew Hurles, Toomas Kivisild, Human Evolutionary Genetics, Second Edition. --: Garland Science, 2013.