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Study information


Module titlePhysiology
Module codeBIO1420
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Professor Jon Blount (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module provides an introduction to anatomy and physiology, i.e. how things ‘work’ at the physiological level, and how this relates to lifestyle, habitat and evolutionary history in a range of animals and some plants. You will also gain experience in some practical aspects of the study of physiology, including dissection, and handling of experimental animals and plants.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is to provide you with an introduction to animal and plant physiology, and how this relates to lifestyle, habitat and evolutionary history. The module aims to provide hands-on laboratory experience in physiological study and data collection. In addition, the lectures incorporate examples of physiological enquiry from recent published research. Through this module you will be encouraged to develop your own interest in physiology by considering real-world scenarios that will better equip you to link theory to practical situations in the workplace.

The module aims to develop a series of transferrable skills including: time management, problem solving, and data handling and interpretation.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Outline the major physiological systems of animals and plants
  • 2. Describe the relationships between structure, physiological function, and habitat specialisation of animals and plants
  • 3. Explain using detailed knowledge the physiology of selected groups of animals and plants

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Describe essential facts and theory across a sub-discipline of biosciences
  • 5. Identify critical questions from the literature and synthesise research-informed examples into written work
  • 6. Identify and implement, with some guidance, appropriate methodologies and theories for addressing a specific research problem in biosciences
  • 7. With guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within biosciences
  • 8. Describe and begin to evaluate approaches to our understanding of biosciences with reference to primary literature, reviews and research articles

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 9. Develop, with guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound conclusions
  • 10. Communicate ideas, principles and theories using a variety of formats in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 11. Collect and interpret appropriate data and undertake straightforward research tasks with guidance
  • 12. Evaluate own strengths and weaknesses in relation to professional and practical skills identified by others
  • 13. Reflect on learning experiences and summarise personal achievements

Syllabus plan

Animals – we will focus on animal form and function, nutrition and feeding, energy supply and metabolism, thermal relations, circulation and gas exchange, immune system, osmoregulation and excretion, hormones and the endocrine system, reproduction, nervous systems, sensory and motor mechanisms. We also include some lectures on environmental physiology, considering how animals are adapted to particular environments and to cope with environmental challenges. In particular we focus on physiology in hot and dry habitats, and the physiology of global change.

Plants – lectures will cover plant form and function in the context of photosynthesis, nutrient acquisition and utilisation, and adaptations to terrestrial habitats. We take an integrated approach where physiological adaptations and behavioural responses are explored within the context of the environments in which they are found.

Practicals cover: fish dissection, and thermotolerance and water relations.

The module will be delivered using a hybrid approach of pre-recorded lectures and face-to-face discussions, workshops and practicals 

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 teaching 21Pre-recorded lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching 6Practical sessions
Scheduled learning and teaching 10Face-to-face discussion sessions
Guided independent study114Additional reading, research and preparation for module assessments

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short answer questions during discussion sessions and practical sessions Ongoing throughout the moduleAllOral

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
Practical-based short write-up251 hour1-11Written
MCQ Mid-term Exam 254o mins1-11ELE online
MCQ examination501 hour1-11ELE online

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Practical-based short write-up Practical-based short write-up 1-11August reassessment period
MCQ class testMCQ examination1-11August reassessment period
MCQ examinationMCQ examination 1-11August reassessment period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The practical-based short write-up is not deferable because of its practical nature. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral 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 overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Campbell et al. (2020) Biology: A Global Approach, 12th Ed. Pearson. ISBN 9781292341705 (Core text)
  • Willmer et al. (2005) Environmental Physiology of Animals, 2nd Ed. Blackwell. ISBN 1-4051-0724-3
  • Hill et al. 2016. Animal Physiology. 4th Ed. Sinauer. ISBN 1605354716, 9781605354712

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Physiology, function, nutrition, circulation, gas exchange, immune system, hormones, reproduction, development, nervous systems, photosynthesis, behaviour, habitats, adaptations

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date