Module code: BMS2062

Module Overview

This module is intended to highlight the diversity of animal life, whilst noting and acknowledging conserved features. Evolution is a connecting thread, both the early evolution of anatomical features and their later adaptation to environment and lifestyle. The module also introduces students to aspects of animal behaviour, again in the wider context of evolution and adaptation. The module is not intended to be exhaustive in its content; it utilises selected themes in order to highlight how animals can be considered in relation to one another, developing investigative skills that will promote lifelong learning strategies.

Module provider

School of Biosciences

Module Leader

PIRIE Tara (Biosciences)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 95

Lecture Hours: 17

Tutorial Hours: 5

Practical/Performance Hours: 6

Guided Learning: 20

Captured Content: 7

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:
• Evolution in the Animal Kingdom (recap)
• Development in animals:
insects and vertebrates
• Introduction to Animal Behaviour
• Allometrics
: lecture & computer lab exercise

Themes in comparative biology:
• Vision
The evolution and diversity of vision – the principles of colour vision
The adaptation of vision to the environment and behaviour – the ecology of vision
The evolution of trichromatic vision in primates; the circadian photoreception system

• Energetics
Respiratory surfaces & the physiology of breathing
Transport of oxygen: respiratory pigments, evolution of the circulatory system
PRACTICAL: heart dissection – lab or virtual equivalent (equal weighting)

• Diet and Digestion
Evolution of the alimentary canal
Mutualism in the digestive system
Adaptation in the vertebrate digestive system
Adaptations in arthropod digestive system
Diet & behaviour

• Locomotion
Anatomy of locomotion: muscle structure and the skeleton (recap)
Invertebrate motility: without a skeleton or with an exoskeleton.
Vertebrate motility and the evolution of limbs
Adaptation: speed, endurance, flight, energetic & allometric considerations

Also incorporated into the module will be:
Visit to Marwell Zoo, or alternative, with themed group investigation
Poster presentation of themed investigation

Plus tutorial sessions

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination Online ONLINE SAQ EXAM 50

Alternative Assessment

If the Research Project requires re-assessment this may be by the submission of an electronic copy of a poster addressing an alternative biological question that can be tackled by an individual rather than a group (if all components require re-assessment)

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate comprehension, application, analysis and some synthesis of knowledge, as well as giving the opportunity to recall and reflect on the content covered in taught content.  As such the module assessment consists of a research project (50%) with group- and individual components, as well as a short-answer exam (50%) during the exam week. Additional coursework, based on practical reports, will demonstrate understanding of more specific topics.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Research project (50%), in which students work in a group of 3-4 students to draw upon knowledge gathered throughout the module and published literature to address a topic on comparative biology. The module is assessed through three components: a research poster (group mark, 40%), structured summary (individual mark, 40%) and peer assessment by group members (individual mark, 20%).

  • Short answer exam (50%) in which students are offered a selection of short answer exam question of varying weighting covering all lecture and practical content; duration 1 hour in exam period (available for 4 hours).


Formative assessment and feedback will be available from a variety of sources:

  • Answers to question following allometric scaling practical

  • Feedback tutorial on allometric scaling practical

  • Timetabled drop-in sessions on research projects and exam preparation.

  • Verbal feedback following lectures or during tutorials

  • Feedback to specific queries via discussion boards, with responses that are made available to all students.

Module aims

  • To recap the evolution of the animal kingdom
  • To overview the principles of development in evolutionarily remote animals, noting both similarities and differences
  • To introduce some basic concepts in animal behaviour
  • To use selected themes to compare aspects of the basic anatomy and physiology in vertebrates and invertebrates considering: evolutionary origins & adaptation to environment, energetic & allometric considerations, and impact on animal behaviour

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Compare and contrast the principles of development in vertebrates and invertebrates K
2 Recognise the types of behaviour shown within the animal kingdom and evaluate the impact of ecology and lifestyle on such behaviour K
3 Analyse information from varied sources in order to compare animal physiology and behaviour within the context of the themes of: vision, oxygen uptake and transport, diet, and locomotion K
4 Apply strategies for comparing diverse animal species to novel biological features K
5 Work both individually and as part of a team to identify and achieve goals T
6 Develop strategies for identifying and obtaining the information required to address a biological question: developing lifelong learning skills T
7 Integrate information from a variety of sources in order to address a biological question T
8 Communicate information gathered effectively using appropriate scientific language T

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:

In addition to providing information about specific topics via lectures this module is designed to stimulate self learning practices and the skills required to locate and present information.  Comparative anatomy and physiology of a number of organs and biological systems will be discussed in taught classes, but in addition guided study using a number of aids (e.g. computer labs, virtual dissection software, themed group investigation) will be used.  The assessment of this module is very much a part of its teaching and learning strategy, both in terms of the skills it will develop and the additional information students will gather.  In addition, it is intended that the final poster session will also promote peer learning as students will be expected to read and assess one another’s posters.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures: 17 hours

  • Captured content: 7 hours

  • Tutorials: 5 hours

  • Practicals: 2 x 2 hours

  • Research project: 20 hours

  • Poster presentation: 2 hours

  • Independent learning: 95 hours

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: BMS2062

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Biological Sciences BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Veterinary Biosciences BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% 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 2022/3 academic year.