The Open University since 2006
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
Can Britain Have a Payrise?: The Live DebateWednesday, 24th August 2016 20:00 - BBC TwoOne hundred workers representing all levels of pay face each other in a studio to try and work out whether Britain... Read more: Can Britain Have a Payrise?: The Live Debate
Full Steam Ahead: Episode fourAvailable until Thursday, 22nd September 2016 01:15This episode focuses on the most famous locomotive in the world, the Flying Scotsman as well as the railways'... Read more: Full Steam Ahead: Episode four
Hammering into hearts: How Dilshod Nazarov's Rio victory lifted the TajiksTajikistan won its first independent Gold during Rio 2016. For a nation without a lot to... Read more: Hammering into hearts: How Dilshod Nazarov's Rio victory lifted the Tajiks
Take the photographic memory testCan you capture scenes just by looking at them? Find out with our photographic memory test. Launch now: Take the photographic memory test
Fundamentals of accountingLearn about the essential numerical and double-entry skills required for accounting. This free... Try: Fundamentals of accounting now
Start writing fictionHave you always wanted to write, but never quite had the courage to start? This free course,... Try: Start writing fiction now
In this free course, Evolution through natural selection, we describe the theory of evolution by natural selection as proposed by Charles Darwin in his book, first published in 1859, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. We will look at natural selection as Darwin did, taking inheritance for granted, but ignoring the mechanisms underlying it.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- understand that by biological evolution we mean that many of the organisms that inhabit the Earth today are different from those that inhabited it in the past
- understand that natural selection is one of several processes that can bring about evolution, although it can also promote stability rather than change
- understand that the four propositions underlying Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection are: (1) more individuals are produced than can survive; (2) there is therefore a struggle for existence; (3) individuals within a species show variation; and (4) offspring tend to inherit their parents’ characters
- understand that the three necessary and sufficient conditions for natural selection to occur are: (1) a struggle for existence; (2) variation; and (3) inheritance
- understand that Endler's experiment with guppies demonstrated that evolution through natural selection can occur in relatively few generations.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Charles Darwin
- 2 Darwin and natural selection
- 3 Natural selection in the guppy
- 4 Other influences on evolution
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
Evolution through natural selection
In this , we describe the theory of evolution by natural selection as proposed by Charles Darwin in his book, first published in 1859, On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. We will look at natural selection as Darwin did, taking inheritance for granted, but ignoring the mechanisms underlying it.
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 1 study in
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Natural History courses or view the range of currently available OU Natural History courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Wednesday, 16th March 2016
Last updated on: Wednesday, 16th March 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.
All our alternative formats are free for you to download, for more information about the different formats we offer please see our FAQs. The most frequently used are Word (for accessibility), PDF (for print) and ePub and Kindle to download to eReaders*.
- Word (1.6 MB)
- PDF (3.3 MB)
- ePub 3.0 (1.2 MB)
- ePub 2.0 (1.2 MB)
- Kindle (285 KB)
- RSS (95 KB)
- HTML (876 KB)
- SCORM (875 KB)
- OUXML Package (15 KB)
- OUXML File (44 KB)
- IMS Common cartridge
- Moodle backup (429 KB)
*Please note you will need an ePub and Mobi reader for these formats.