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: 71

Lecture Hours: 26

Seminar Hours: 4

Practical/Performance Hours: 13

Guided Learning: 10

Captured Content: 26

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.

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.

Lagomorph, 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

Practical sessions 

Integument anatomy practical: examination of prosections including common integument, horns, hooves, claws, footpads and glands 

Applied Anatomy of the Skin and Digestive System in Small Animals and Horses: clinical examination and imaging of integumentary and GI body systems

Gastro-intestinal tract comparative anatomy practical: examination of prosections including oral cavity, salivary glands, gastro-intestinal tract and associated organs 


Dissection of the gastro-intestinal tract in rabbits and ruminants, including instrument handling 

Online virtual practicals to support the above in-person practical content

Avian, lagomorph and reptilian alimentary tract prosections incl above in other practicals

Comparative integument and gut histology in various species 

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



Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Oral exam or presentation Face-To-Face (Closed Book) Oral Group Presentation 15 Minutes 10
Examination PC Lab (Closed Book) MCQ and SAQ Exam Fixed Start Time (2 Hours) 90

Alternative Assessment

Problem Based Learning - the alternative assessment to the group oral presentation is an individual 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 – 90%

(Exam Units are onsite closed-booked invigilated fixed-time assessments. They are delivered through SurreyLearn using campus PC Labs)

Formative assessment and feedback

Verbal feedback in practical sessions

Practical lab reports 


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
001 Understand the structure, function and development of the integumentary and gastrointestinal systems KP RCVS KU 1, 3
002 Understand the anatomical and physiological differences of the GI tract in different species and how these relate to the animal's diet KP RCVS KU 1, 3
003 Apply functional and structural knowledge of the integument and alimentary systems to basic clinical examination of veterinary species KCPT RCVS KU 1, 3
004 Assess animal behaviour relating to the effects of pain and/or dysfunction of the GI system K RCVS D1C 37, KU 9
005 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 CT RCVS KU 1, KU 2
006 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 KCPT RCVS KU 1
007 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 PT RCVS KU 11
008 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 PT RCVS KU 11
009 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 KPT RCVS KU11

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 and handling of prepared anatatomical specimens

Encourage the students to integrate their knowledge across multiple body systems

Initiate the students physical examination skills by introducing clinical examination practicals, in collaboration with other 'Structure and Function' modules

Introduce the problem based learning format and team learning

The learning and teaching methods include:

Lectures, flipped classroom, small group discussions,

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

Lectures, practical and PBL 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: VMS1004

Other information

The Surrey Framework consist of the attributes: employability, global and cultural capabilities, digital capabilities, sustainability and resourcefulness and resilience. This module includes the following key topics which further develop one or more of the attributes as indicated. The problem-based learning activity provides the students with the opportunity to work together in groups of approximately 10 to develop their digital capabilities, their resourcefulness and resilience. The students will formulate learning objectives, search databases for information, collate their information in a shared digital repository, and will compose a clear way to communicate their solution to the clinical problem, usually in the format of a PowerPoint presentation.

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 2025/6 academic year.