BI2EV45-Vertebrate Zoology

Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Ian Jenkins


Summary module description:


  1. To provide a grounding in, and overview of, the multidisciplinary nature of zoology in the 21st century (in particular the relevance of palaeontology, zoogeography, phylogenetics and developmental biology to traditional comparative morphological zoology).

  2. To provide students with an account of the origins, functions and significance of some key mammalian features.

  3. To give students a wider appreciation of the complexity and diversity of mammalian morphology and physiology, and the exquisite nature of their adaptations to their life styles and their environments. NB. This course will complement nicely with some aspects of the Animal, Plant and Microbial Development Module BI2BG5, and the Human Development, Organogenesis and Anatomy Module BI2BC4. It may also be useful for students wishing to take BI3BH8 - Mammalian Reproduction in their third year.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the course, it is expected that students will be able to:- 

 1. Describe and explain the evolution and function of the major morphological and physiological features of mammals.

 2. Describe and explain the key morphological and physiological adaptations and life styles observed in mammals. 

 3. Describe and explain selected examples of mammalian specialisations. 

 4. Contrast and compare mammalian life styles and strategies and morphologies with those of the non-mammalian vertebrate taxa


Additional outcomes:

Students will have the opportunity to:- 

1. Gain experience of teamwork, leadership, and the need to delegate within a team.

2. Practise the skills associated with library information retrieval, gaining information from the WWW and journals.

3. Develop time management skills in a practical setting. 

4. Communication and writing skills (essays and reports).

5. Develop observation, dissection, and accurate drawing and note-taking and associated deductive skills.


Outline content:

Lectures will cover a) the origin, evolution, morphology, physiology and function of the defining features of mammals {e.g. placentation and lactation}, b) the evolution and morphology of locomotory specialisations of mammals, c) vertebrate adaptations to life in extreme environments (e.g. Cetaceans), d) zoogeography, e) digestion and energetics. Underlying themes of the course will be:

1. The relationship between, and the evolution of, morphological form and function.

2. Differing and convergent morphological and physiological adaptations and strategies employed by vertebrates.

3. The relationship and relevance of other disciplines to zoology (e.g. evo-devo {molecular and developmental biology and evolution}, palaeontology, behavioural biology, geology).

4. The role of energetics in shaping morphology and function in vertebrates.

NB. Dissection classes and the handling and observation of preserved specimens comprise approximately 50% of the formal teaching of this module, and are a key component of this module.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 16 10
Practicals classes and workshops 13 12
Guided independent study 71 78
Total hours by term 100.00 100.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 45
Written assignment including essay 27.5
Practical skills assessment 27.5

Other information on summative assessment:
Practical report books form the basis of in-course assessment. Crucial factors in this assessment are: the accuracy and depth of observations, answers to set questions, effectiveness of written and graphical content communication skills, and the overall usefulness of the notebooks in terms of an aide memoire for revision purposes.

Formative assessment methods:
The first practical class is formatively assessed. Lab books from this class are handed in a few days after the practical and marked and returned in time for the second class. This is to give students an understanding of the standard and style of work that is acceptable.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:

    A 2 hour examination. 

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August/September

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 13 February 2017

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