Module code: VMS1004

Module Overview

This module will present the student with the structure and function of the integument and the alimentary systems in the various veterinary species. Cases will underpin the presentation of this material to provide context and integration between the disciplines of anatomy, histology, physiology and embryology. Students will use dissection and laboratory sessions to develop their technical competencies. The PBL cases will be used to underpin the anatomy and physiology and to enhance team learning and the development of independent learning skills. 

Module provider

School of Veterinary Medicine

Module Leader

BASU Christopher (Vet Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 99

Lecture Hours: 27

Tutorial Hours: 6

Laboratory Hours: 18

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Introduction to the basic gross structure and development of the integument, including hair, wool, feathers, hoof and horn and associated organs such as mammary, sweat glands and anal glands.

Structure and development of the bovine udder, and comparative gross and cellular anatomy of the mammary glands of other species.

Comparative nutritional values of milk of different species including colostrum.

Micronutrient deficiency and excess and influence on integumentary disorders.

Animal behaviours or clinical signs observable with Integumentary system disease – e.g. atopy, ear disease, scooting.

Introduction to the alimentary system using a monogastric animal as an example (dog).

Structures and development of the oral cavity, salivary glands, stomach (s), intestinal tract, liver and pancreas

Introduction to gross structural variation in different species (e.g. ruminant / equine / porcine) and how does nutrition determine dental and gut structure and function

Comparative structures of oral cavity e.g. dentition / salivary structures, tongue, pharynx. Introduction to the cellular structure of the components of the alimentary tract

Rumen complex and the hindgut of the horse, variations in the hindgut and their function.

Comparative hepatic and pancreatic structure.

Largomorph, rodent, avian, fish and reptilian alimentary systems.

Introduction to alimentary system physiology and gut as a defence system

Oral cavity function including prehension, mastication, tongue physiology and salivary secretion and swallowing reflexes.

Stages of digestion, where they occur and variation with nutrition

Single stomach function e.g. glandular secretions and digestion.

Comparative ruminant fore stomach function including rumination.

Comparative Intestinal tract function including - large intestinal variations (e.g. equine, rabbits and wildlife) digestion.

Liver and pancreatic function and integration with digestive functions.

Physiology of the gut in birds, fish and reptiles

Animal behaviours related to the gastrointestinal system – quidding, choke, regurgitation vs. vomiting, colic pain, diarrhea, tenesmus

Total of 30 hours

Practical sessions - Skin

Histology practical – hair, wool, glands of the skin, mammary glands – 2 hours

Comparative live animal examination:

·         Fleece assessment.

·         Feathering, identification of feather types.

Udder and teat examination by palpation, and visual assessment – part of above for 2 hours

Practical laboratory session looking at skin scrapings, mast cells, yeast, ringworm. Wood’s light examination – 2 hours

PBL Case:  Skin – Normal skin physiology/anatomy scenario with PBL training – 8 hours

The components of the alimentary system – dentition comparative with images and developing an understanding of reading radiographic images

– 2 hours

Instrument handling practical – 1 hr

Single stomach and oesophagus alimentary tract dissection and images – 2 hours

Ruminant alimentary tract dissection and images - 2 hours

Equine alimentary tract dissection and images – 2 hours

Liver and dentition comparative examination and images – 2 hours

Avian, largomorph and reptilian alimentary tract dissection – incl above in other practicals

Comparative live animal examination e.g. auscultation, palpation of gut – need cow, horse, dog, for gut examination

Observation of the alimentary tract from prehension to defecation.

Clinical Examination of the alimentary system, including u/s image reading and resources – 6 hours

Comparative gut histology in various species – 4 hours

Total of 24 hours practicals


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Practical based assessment PBL ASSESSMENT 10
Practical based assessment STEEPLECHASE 40

Alternative Assessment

PBL alternative assessment is an oral examination

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate understanding of the laboratory components, PBL, content knowledge and integration of the various components of practical materials.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:


PBL assessment – 10%

Content knowledge examination – 50%

Integration of the various practical components via Steeplechase –40%

Formative assessment and feedback

Verbal feedback in practical sessions

Practical lab reports – 

First peer assessment of contributions to dissections will be formative as well 

Module aims

  • In this module, students will acquire an understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the integumentary system and the gut. The integumentary system comprises the skin, hair, horn, hoof and associated glands including the mammary gland. Building upon their experience of safe handling and restraint of domestic animals in the first module, students will conduct basic clinical examinations that enable them to recognise the range of normal structure and function of the skin and gut. They will be able to understand how the integument system and the gut may impact on the overall condition and appearance of the animal. Students will also acquire an understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the gastrointestinal (GI) system. Through basic clinical examination they will recognize normal and be aware of abnormal function. They will understand how the gastrointestinal system relates to environmental, management and nutritional factors.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Understand the structure, function and development of the integumentary and gastrointestinal systems RCVS KU 1, RCVS KU3 KP
2 Understand the anatomical and physiological differences of the GI tract in different species and how these relate to the animal's diet RCVS KU 1, RCVS KU3 KP
3 Apply functional and structural knowledge of the integument and alimentary systems to basic clinical examination of veterinary species RCVS KU 1, RCVS KU3 KCPT
4 Assess animal behaviour relating to the effects of pain and/or dysfunction of the GI system RCVS KU 9, KU 18, RCVS 21 K
5 As this is the first module in which Problem Base learning will be introduced, the students will also be able to formulate a hypothesis to explain the problem while gaining basic knowledge RCVS KU 1, KU 2 CT
6 As this is the first module in which Problem Base learning will be introduced, the students will also be able to in higher-order thinking by evaluating prior knowledge with an understanding of the presented problem RCVS KU 1 KCPT
7 As this is the first module in which Problem Base learning will be introduced, the students will also be able to organise their own group learning sessions RCVS KU 11 PT
8 As this is the first module in which Problem Base learning will be introduced, the students will also be able to communicate effectively with their group RCVS KU 11 PT
9 As this is the first module in which Problem Base learning will be introduced, the students will also be able to experience and participate in peer-group learning RCVS KU11 KPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Enhance the students technical skills using dissection practicals

Enhance the students technical skills by microscopy practicals

Initiate the students physical examination skills by introducing clinical examination practicals

Introduce the problem based learning format and team learning

The learning and teaching methods include:

Lectures, flipped classroom, small group discussions,

Practicals involving dissection, microscopy, skin scrapings, review of radiographic and ultrasound images of the gut, clinical examination of various species, problem based learning cases

27 hours lectures, 18 practical hours and 6 PBL hours

2-3 lectures per week, 2-3 hours practical per week and PBL hrs



Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: VMS1004

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Veterinary Medicine and Science BVMSci (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.