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Study information


Module titleAnimals
Module codeBIO1331
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Andrew Griffiths (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks




Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Animals represent the most enigmatic groups of eukaryotic organisms. This module will introduce you to the structure and function of various animal groups. Specifically, it will explore the relationships between anatomy, physiology, lifestyle and habitat/ecological niches. Physiology is the study of how an organism (and its constituent parts) functions, and it aims to understand the mechanisms that operate at all levels from genes and their molecular products, to cells, organs and ultimately the integrated whole animal processes. This module will use the structure-function relationships to also consider the evolutionary linkages of the different groups of animals from invertebrates to vertebrates, and from aquatic to terrestrial. In structured exercises, you will explore structure-functional similarities and differences across groups and understand how to carry out physiological measurements on invertebrates to demonstrate the relationships between animal function and environmental variables (such as temperature that helps us also understand climate change effects). Consideration of animal evolution and the chordate phylogeny are also at the core of this module.

In order to take BIO1331 you must normally have an A Level (or equivalent) in Biology. An A Level (or equivalent) in Chemistry is also very useful.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module introduces core concepts in animal form and function, specifically anatomy, physiology and their role in environmental adaptation. These areas will be approached from the perspective of molecules, cells, organ systems and whole organisms. Evolutionary biology and physiology are fundamental to any understanding of the biosciences and underpins any degree in the subject. In particular, this module aims to provide you with knowledge and understanding that will enable you to take second and final year modules in physiology, animal biology, and evolution.

Graduate attributes: as part of this module, you will begin to synthesise information from a broad range of educational experiences and gain practical observation skills and develop group/team work skills.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Outline the animal phylogeny and major physiological systems of animals and apply this knowledge to solve quantitative physiology problems
  • 2. Describe the relationships between physiological function and adaption of animals, relating these to the evolution of animals

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Describe and begin to evaluate aspects of animal evolution, animal physiology and related research articles
  • 4. Understand varied techniques of analysis, practical investigation and enquiry within animal biology

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Communication of ideas effectively by written means
  • 6. Undertake problem solving activities and interact effectively in a group

Syllabus plan

The first part of the module will consist of lectures that cover the origin and evolution of the major animal groups, with an overview of the various body plans and focussing on model organisms within biology. The evolution of structural characteristics will also be related their various functional traits. The second part will explore details of invertebrate and vertebrate physiological systems to illustrate general principles of their biology and the link between structure, physiological function and lifestyle/habitat. Selected groups will be used to examine these relationships in depth, with a particular emphasis on comparing animals that breathe air versus water for exploring widely relevant adaptations, such as respiratory gas exchange, cardiovascular systems, thermal relations, osmoregulation and excretion.

Practical sessions will reinforce concepts covered in lectures, emphasising the nature of scientific enquiry.

Accessibility Statement:
As part of this module, you will undertake laboratory sessions in the large teaching laboratory (of up to 200 students) that are of 2-3 hrs in duration. These sessions will be undertaken in pairs/groups, and some sessions involve fine laboratory work, working with invertebrates or fish dissection. Breaks are possible and students are able to leave the laboratory for short periods. When timetable permits, an alternative to one of the laboratory sessions is a half day trip to The National Marine Aquarium. The coursework elements of the module (25%) include group submission and working as part of a group (see ILOs). The exam (75%) is a time-limited, one-hour, multiple choice test.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching20Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching12Laboratory practicals (4 x 3 hours)
Guided independent study12Data analysis and write up tasks
Guided independent study9Quantitative physiological problem solving
Guided independent study60Lecture consolidation, reading and engagement with online resources
Guided independent study37Revision

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Quantitative physiological problem solving3 x 3 hours1,2,4Online
Formative MCQ paper1 hour1-4Online

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group problem sheets20One set of problems per sessionAllWritten
MCQ examination801 hour1-4Model answers

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Group problem sheetsIndividual problem sheets (20%)AllAugust Ref/Def
MCQ examinationMCQ examination (80%)1-4August ref/def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral– if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons that are approved by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. If deferred, the format and timing of the re-assessment for each of the summative assessments is detailed in the table above ('Details of re-assessment'). The mark given for a deferred assessment will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral - if you have failed the module (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) and the module cannot be condoned, you will be required to complete a re-assessment for each of the failed components on the module. The format and timing of the re-assessment for each of the summative assessments is detailed in the table above ('Details of re-assessment'). If you pass the module following re-assessment, your module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative basic reading list:

  • Campbell NA, Reece JB (2008) Biology A Global Approach, 11th Ed. Pearson. ISBN 9781292170435

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

  • Hill, R.W., Wyse, G.A. and Anderson, M (2008) Animal Physiology (2nd edition), Sinauer Associates. ISBN 0878935622

Key words search

Physiology, Phylogenetic, Adaptation, Evolution, Gene, Respiration, Cardiovascular, Feeding, Reproduction, Thermoregulation, Excretion, Metabolism

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date