BIMPB12-Diversity and Identification of Plants

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: 2015/6

Module Convenor: Dr Alastair Culham


Summary module description:
An introduction to the diversity and identification of land plants with emphasis on Flowering Plants.

For all taxonomic work, and for ease of identification of unknown plants, an appreciation of the criteria on which plants are classified into families is necessary. This module aims to introduce the taxonomic hierarchy and main characteristics of land plants, and with the help of staff from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Natural History Museum, London and the Royal Horticultural Society, Wisley, to review the families which are important components of world floras.

Assessable learning outcomes:
The students will be able to interpret reproductive and vegetative structure, to recognise the combinations of characters used to define plant families. They will be able to use keys to place an unknown plant in a named family. The students will be able to describe the principle morphological features of the principal groups of pteridophytes, gymnosperms and angiosperms. The students will be able to communicate plant characteristics to a wide audience.

Additional outcomes:
Familiarity with major UK plant collections. Familiarity with selected plant families. Communication of plant descriptions. Development of Web 2.0 skills.

Outline content:
The basic structure of land plants will be introduced and the terminology used in descriptive botany explained. The characteristic features and relationships of the major groups of pteridophytes, gymnosperms and angiosperms are presented. Morphological features are considered by reference to living and preserved material and illustrations. The role of these organisms in terrestrial ecosystems is briefly discussed. Recognition of the major families will be taught as a particularly useful first step in plant identification. Selected temperate and tropical plant families will be discussed in terms of their defining characteristics, their role in major plant communities, and their economic importance.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Lectures, laboratory practical classes and study visits.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 28 28
Practicals classes and workshops 28 28
External visits 16 16
Guided independent study 26 26 4
Total hours by term 98.00 98.00 4.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 50
Class test administered by School 50

Other information on summative assessment:
There will be two blogs; the first a formative blog on one species in the tropical greenhouse, the second a summative blog. 50%.

Write about:
1. The classification of the species - species limits, generic boundaries, family boundaries etc.
2. Uses
3. Geography
4. Common names
5. Current research on the species
6. Provide a list of key references
Take a photo(s) of the whole plant.
Add references.
Take photos and/or draw identification features

Use summative feedback from your first blog to help improve your second blog.
Plant Identification test
The test will run during the Summer Term and include both open book and closed bokk elements. (50%)

Formative assessment methods:
Plant identification in the glasshouses and grounds, study of herbarium material.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:

Reassessment arrangements:
Re-examination by portfolio of work and plant family identification test in September.

Last updated: 11 March 2015

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