Population Genetics

Course content

The amount of molecular genetic data (especially nucleotide sequences) has increased tremendously in recent years and is expected to explode as the next generation sequencing methods become standard tools. This has implications for a wide spectrum of biological disciplines spanning conservation genetics, molecular ecology, molecular medicine, genome research and evolutionary biology. The purpose of the course is to provide the students with knowledge about the principles of population genetics and phylogenetics and their applications in the diverse areas mentioned above. In addition, the course will train the students to choose suitable methods to analyze molecular genetic data.

The exam projects and exercises in the course are based on up-to-date datasets, including whole genome data. These will be analyzed on a Linux server using a number of state of-the-art software tools, including the R environment for statistical computing. Therefore, students should be prepared to spend time on learning how to use these tools. In the beginning of the course, students with a limited background in bioinformatics will be offered additional exercises in some of the bioinformatics skills necessary to handle the large amount of genomic data that are available today. This includes a short introduction to the operating system Linux and the R environment for statistical computing.


MSc Programme in Biochemistry
MSc Programme in Bioinformatics
MSc Programme in Biology
MSc Programme in Biology with a minor subject

Learning outcome


By completing the course the student has been introduced to

  • Natural selection
  • Genetic drift and inbreeding
  • The neutral theory and molecular population genetics
  • Population structure
  • Evolutionary quantitative genetics
  • Population genomics
  • Human population genetics
  • Applied aspects; depending on the participants’ interests


By completing the course the student has learned how to analyse population genetic data and to explain how they have been influenced by:

  • Natural selection
  • Genetic drift and inbreeding
  • Population structure
  • Mutation

The student has obtained skills within the disciplines

  • Evolutionary genetics
  • Population genomics
  • Human population genetics

and will be able to communicate in writing the results of an analysis of a selected topic within the subject field.


By completing the course the student can:

  • employ basic population genetic principles
  • discuss, put into perspective, and criticize original research papers in population genetics
  • choose the most suitable molecular methods to analyze a particular hypothesis
  • choose the most suitable analytical tools to analyze molecular genetic data
  • perform bioinformatics and statistical analyses of population genetic data, present the results, and put them into perspective

Lectures, seminars, group discussions, computer workshops, and student presentations of original research papers.

See Absalon.

Knowledge within biology and molecular biology disciplines is recommended.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Oral examination, 20 minutes (no preparation)
Type of assessment details
Written assignment: The student must analyse population genetic data sets and write a scientific paper of about 10 pages (carried out as group work).
The written assignment must be handed in in the exam week.
Oral exam: The student presents the written assignment that has been handed in. Afterwards the student will be asked questions first to the assignment/presentation and secondly to the curriculum more generally. A 50:50 weight will be given to 1) the assignment answers related to it and 2) the answers related to the questions to the curriculum.

The written assignment and the oral exam must be passed separately, and the two parts of the exam have to be passed in the same exam period.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship

The same as the ordinary exam.

The written assignment for the ordinary exam can be used again. If you do not pass the written assignment you must hand in a new individual written assignment. If more students are signed up for reexam the assignment will be carried out as group work.


Criteria for exam assessment

In order to obtain the grade 12 the student should convincingly and accurately demonstrate the knowledge, skills and competences described under Learning Outcome.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 27
  • Preparation
  • 81
  • Theory exercises
  • 27
  • Project work
  • 55
  • Exam
  • 16
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 3
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
Study Board for the Biological Area
Contracting department
  • Department of Biology
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinators
  • Hans Redlef Siegismund   (11-525d736f71737d777f786e4a6c737938757f386e75)
  • Ida Moltke   (3-6b666342646b71306d7730666d)

Rasmus Heller, Ida Moltke, Anders Albrechtsen, Fernando Racimo

Saved on the 18-10-2023

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