BI2EVP5-Venoms and Poisons

Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Phillip Dash


Type of module:

Summary module description:


This module aims to provide the student with a comprehensive overview of venoms and poisons, including an introduction to important venomous and poisonous animals and poisonous plants, including the role of the venoms or poisons for defence or predation. This module will cover the evolution of venoms and poisons, the biochemistry underpinning their synthesis and mechanism of action, general principles of toxicology and an overview of their medical uses.

Assessable learning outcomes:

At the end of this course students should be able to: • Describe the most important types of venomous and poisonous animals and give examples of important poisonous plants • Understand how venoms and poisons have evolved • Understand the principles of how venoms and poisons are synthesized, stored and delivered. • Understand how venoms and poisons work by interfering with normal physiological processes. • Describe the key principles of toxicology. • Understand the current uses (including medical, research and agricultural) and potential future uses of venoms and poisons.

Additional outcomes:

Students will enhance their team work in a practical class culminating in a written report.

Outline content:

The course will start with an overview of venoms and poisons and introduce the aims of the module. Examples of important venomous animals and poisonous plants will be given along with a focus on their ecology and their evolution. The biochemistry of venom/poison synthesis and mechanisms of delivery will be discussed. How these venoms and poisons exert their effects will also be discussed by examining their pharmacology and toxicology. Finally, many of these venoms and poisons have medical applications and so the use of venoms and poisons in medicine will be discussed along with emerging applications of animal venoms.

Lecture topics include:

  • An overview of venoms and poisons

  • Snakes

  • Invertebrate chemical defences

  • Marine venoms and poisons

  • Plants

  • Bioprospecting

  • Biochemistry of poisons

  • Treatments for poisonings and envenomations

  • Uses of venoms and poisons.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The course will consist of 20 lectures and a practical class. Supplementary information will be placed on Blackboard.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Tutorials 0
Guided independent study 80
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Set exercise 30

Summative assessment- Examinations:
One-and-a-half hour examination

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (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.

    Assessment 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: 20 April 2018


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