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Study information

Advanced Applications of Physiology

Module titleAdvanced Applications of Physiology
Module codeBIOM554
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Robert Ellis (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

In this module you will develop your understanding of major physiological mechanisms in a range of animal systems and how these enable adaptation to environmental perturbation. You will cover a number of topics, including ion, osmo and acid-base regulation, respiratory and neuroendocrine physiology, calcification, evolutionary physiology and sexual differentiation. Using these physiological systems as exemplars, we will evaluate the physiological methods widely applied in a real-world context, and discuss the advances these have enabled for our understanding of global challenges (e.g. climate change), or the innovations these have enabled in other fields (e.g. aquaculture; elite animal performance). The module takes a research-led approach, covering the very latest advances in the field. Interactive skills sessions across the module will develop skills in pitching research ideas, critical evaluation of research and research dissemination.

It would be expected that students undertaking this module would have a fundamental knowledge of how different physiological systems, such as acid-base, respiratory and neuroendocrine physiology, function in animals, as well as some understanding of how these systems regulate and determine an animals response to environmental stress.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to develop an in-depth understanding of integrative animal physiology, the ability to appraise physiological methods employed in a real-world context and the capacity to critically evaluate the role physiology plays in advancing our understanding of global challenges or innovation. You will develop skills in sourcing and interpreting scientific literature, analysing experimental methodologies and results and communicating facets of physiological research.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Describe in detail different physiology systems, how these interact and how they determine the response of animals to various environmental drivers
  • 2. Critically evaluate methodologies employed for studying organism physiology in a range of real-world contexts (including conservation, fisheries & aquaculture, elite animal performance)
  • 3. Using key case studies from the literature, critically evaluate how physiology has led to advances / innovation in a diverse range of biological fields, and indicate the benefits this has had for industry, academia or policy
  • 4. Critically appraise the role of physiology (opportunities / limitations) in addressing future global challenges, such as global climate change and food security, identifying key areas for future innovation

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 5. Identify critical questions and methodologies from the literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work
  • 6. Analyse and evaluate independently a range of research-informed literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work.
  • 7. With limited guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within biosciences

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 8. Communicate ideas, principles and theories fluently using a variety of formats in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 9. Devise and sustain, with little guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound, convincing conclusions

Syllabus plan

Lectures covering (but not limited to): calcification, evolutionary physiology, sexual differentiation, cardio-respiratory physiology; ion, osmotic and acid-base regulation; endocrinology; reproduction; neurophysiology and behaviour. The module also includes skills sessions and discussion groups.

Accessibility Statement:

As part of this module you will undertake workshop sessions that are of 2 hrs in duration. Breaks are possible, and students are able to leave the teaching space for short periods. These workshop sessions will be undertaken in pairs or small groups, with students contributing to associated group discussions.

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 teaching17Lectures and interactive discussion sessions
Scheduled learning and teaching6Interactive skills workshops (3x 2h)
Guided independent study4Pre-recorded lecture content and bespoke online resources
Guided independent study63Lecture consolidation and associated reading
Guided independent study60Coursework (including literature review)

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short answer questions throughout lectures and skills sessions / discussion groupsOngoing 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
Literature review603000 words1-6, 8-9Written
Assessed coursework* (Elevator pitch and lay-summary proposal, Graphical and video abstract, or Short communication paper) *students will be able to choose one of three assignments linked to the three skills session topics (critical evaluation; science communication; funding)40Variable, depending on assignmentAllWritten

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Literature reviewLiterature review (60%)1-6, 8-9August Ref/Def
Assessed courseworkShort communication paper (40%)AllAugust 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 50%) 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 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Relevant primary research articles and review articles that support individual lecture topics will be made available on ELE.

Key words search

Ecophysiology, physiological processes, animals, respiration, homeostasis

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date