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Introduction to Physical Anthropology

Course Number: ATH 101
Transcript Title: Intro to Physical Anthropology
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: March 31, 2015
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0
Approved delivery mode:


WR 115, RD 115, MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores

Course Description

Presents physical anthropology and the study of human biological evolution in the context of modern genetics and primate behavior studies. Examines human fossil record, as well as the diversity and commonality of present and past populations of humankind. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)
2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)
3. Apply the knowledge, skills and abilities to enter and succeed in a defined profession or advanced academic program. (Professional Competence)
4. Appreciate cultural diversity and constructively address issues that arise out of cultural differences in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)
5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment strategies may include any of the following:

  • Exams ( in class or take home)
  • Quizzes
  • Student presentations
  • Term papers
  • Short papers or reports
  • Experiential exercises 

Course Activities and Design

  1. Master basic concepts and methods in biological anthropology in order to prepare for more advanced course work.
  2. Use an understanding of biology, genetics and fossil evidence to examine the process of human physical and cultural evolution over time.
  3. Evaluate how human beings influence the environment and are influenced by the environment in which they live.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


  • Human Biology
  • Evolution
  • Variation


  • Origins of Life
  • Human Origins
  • Human Variation (not race)


  • Time
  • Molecular Evolution
  • Natural Selection
  • Random Variation
  • Chaos Theory
  • Human Lineages
  • Fossil Humans
  • Gene Pool
  • Human Variation
  • Brain and Language


  • Study Physical Anthropology at the College level
  • Learn Human Biology and Evolution

Department Notes

The course surveys the history of evolutionary fact and theory; it reviews the paleontological fossil record to better understand human commonalities with other life forms; we study the human fossil record from the earliest hominids to modern forms, and; human variation is analyzed demonstrating the fallacy of commonly held racial and racist assumptions. Students should minimally read and write at the college level.