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Human Evolution

Human evolution deals with all aspects of evolutionary change in Homo sapiens and its descent from other hominin lineages. It concerns the evolutionary changes in human physiology, morphology and genetics. Not only is human evolution of great intrinsic interest, it also has important implications for our understanding of human behavior, health, disease and ageing.

This minor provides a deep insight into human evolution bringing together evidence from different disciplines such as evolutionary biology, genetics, medicine, archaeology, psychology and cultural anthropology. The topics are wide-ranging and multidisciplinary covering the descent of man, the evolution of the anatomy and physiology of the human body, of disease, ageing, language and culture.

The minor will treat several important questions such as ‘How are ageing and disease affected by our evolutionary history, Why do we have such big brains, Why do we become obese, How do we genetically differ from the Neanderthal and chimpanzee, How did human speech or behavior evolve?’.

General information

Size: 15 / 30 EC~
Period: 15 EC: September – October, 30 EC: September – January
Language: English
Number of participants: minimum 15, maximum 60
Coordinator: Dr. K. Vrieling
Information: T. Egberts, MSc
~ It is possible to follow the complete minor for an accreditation of 30 EC of to follow only the first half of the minor for an accreditation of 15 EC.


The minor is open to all students with a keen interest in human evolution. It is particularly directed towards students from Natural Sciences, Medical Sciences and Archeology but is also of interest to students from Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences.

The first week of the minor is designed to clear deficiencies of students with an introduction into evolutionary biology and/or medical practice.


Registration: from May 1 until August 15 via uSis.

Students of Leiden University
You must register by entering the class numbers (‘studieactiviteit nummers’) for the minor as a whole as well as for the underlying courses of the minor.

Class numbers:

  • Human Evolution (minor): 1049

  • The evolution of ageing and disease: 2628

  • Biological aspects of Human Evolution: 2629

NOTE: Students who only want to follow the first half of the minor (15 EC) only have to register to (1) the minor as a whole and (2) to the course The evolution of ageing and disease.

Students of Medicine (Leiden University)
Students of Medicine will choose their minors of preference and will be allocated to a minor as communicated by the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). These students will be registered in Usis as participants of this minor by the educational administration’s office of the LUMC (DOO).

Other students
Students from other universities can register by sending an e-mail to T. Egberts, MSc