Module code: BMS1040

Module provider

School of Biosciences and Medicine

Module Leader

PLANT K Dr (Biosc & Med)

Number of Credits


ECT Credits



FHEQ Level 4

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 2

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 111

Lecture Hours: 29

Seminar Hours: 1

Tutorial Hours: 1

Laboratory Hours: 7

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework GROUP POSTER 30%

Alternative Assessment

If the practical class is missed an equivalent exercise utilising class data and exemplar organisms will be set.

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module overview

This module will consider the diversity of life, from organisms to ecosystems, in the light of evolutionary processes that have shaped the world today.  It will encompass an understanding of the genetic principles underpinning evolution, as well as the classification systems developed in order to understand the diversity of life.
“Nothing in Biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution” 

                                                      Theodosius Dobzhansky

Module aims

To consider biodiversity from the perspective of evolution

To introduce the key concepts of evolution

To consider the Tree of Life, focussing on the development of the key features that define cells and organisms

To introduce taxonomy and the processes involved in identifying and classifying species

To introduce students to ecology, looking at factors that define an ecosystem and how evolutionary processes play their role

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
Explain the principles of evolution: the basic genetic inheritance; the role of mutation; natural selection & survival of the fittest; population drift & isolation
Overview the history of life on earth, reviewing the current evidence for the origin of species
Overview the principle branches of the tree of life focussing on key evolutionary developments in defining the organisms which constitute each branch
Knowledge of the composition of foods. KT
Describe the roles that both geography and evolution play in defining ecosystems, with specific examples to support your knowledge
Make accurate observations and record data. PT
Utilise keys, field guides and other resources in the classification of species. CPT
Present numerical data in an appropriate, scientific manner. PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

Indicative content includes:

Introduction to module, genetic & evolutionary concepts
Basic genetics, mutation, natural selection and survival of the fittest, population drift, isolation and mass extinctions; evidence for evolution and phylogeny
The Origin of Species and the Tree of Life:
         Origins of Life (Molecules of Life and the origins of cells)
Bacteria and archaea
         Evolutionary backdrop to their wider diversity
Singled Celled Eukaryotes (protists)
         Origins by endosymbiosis
         Diversity: excavate, chromalveolata, rhizaria, archaeplastida, unikonata
Evolution and Diversity in Plants
         Evolutionary Origins of Plants: Land Colonisation
         Evolutionary Origins of Plants: Seed Plants 
         Plant diversity: plant identification and taxonomy
Diversity and Evolutionary Origins of Fungi
The Animal Kingdom
Overview and Origins of the Animal Kingdom
Invertebrate diversity:
The Origins and Evolution of Vertebrates:
         Chordates & craniates and the evolution of the backbone
         Evolution among the fish
         Tetrapods: amphibia and the evolution of limbs
         Reptiles & birds
         Mammalian origins and evolution
Introduction to Ecology & the Biosphere
A brief introduction to geographic, biotic & evolutionary factors that define species distribution
Diversity in Ecosystems & Biomes
An overview of the main terrestrial & aquatic biomes and then one or two in more detail e.g. marine ecosystems, deserts, woodland or heath land ecosystems
Factors affecting Biodiversity on the University Campus (practical plus poster session)
Tutorial sessions: formative feedback plus guidance on Biodiversity exercise and practice questions

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to: Stimulate student interest in the diversity of life, where this originates from, and how ecosystems develop and evolve from the physical and biological factors that influence them. Much of the material content will be delivered by lecture, but it is envisage that class discussions will form an element of at least some of these in order to promote deeper thought and understanding. Practical field working sessions will focus on some of the identification and classification skills that underpin ecological study, as well as promoting generic skills such as data presentation and group working.

The learning and teaching methods include:
• Lectures: 27 h
• Tutorials: 4 h
• Practical classes: 6 h
• Poster presentations: 2 h

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate both their subject knowledge and their transferable (including cognitive and practical / professional) skills.  The former (LO1-5) will predominantly be tested by a short answer style examination (with an element of choice).  The latter (LO6-8) will predominantly be tested in a poster summary of the class practical on biodiversity, which will incorporate elements of species identification and classification, and numerical data presentation.  Effective group working will also be tested in this assessment.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

·         Group poster presentation: 30%
Summary of class biodiversity data (using appropriate presentation formats) incorporating an overview of the classification of one exemplar species of choice.  Posters will be submitted for printing and displayed in a poster session during week 37.  Marks will be awarded on the basis of the poster alone, although students will be encouraged to discuss.  The mark will be based on peer assessment by other groups (20%) plus academic assessment (40%).  Marks will also be awarded for individual contributions to group work (20%) and on reflective practice (20%).

·         Examination: 70%
60 min exam; 4 short answer questions to be attempted from a choice of 8

Formative assessment and feedback

Students can obtain formative feedback from a variety of sources:

verbal feedback following lectures or during tutorials
verbal feedback from academics during fieldwork
feedback to specific queries via email, with responses being made available to all via SurreyLearn or during tutorials as appropriate
automated feedback to SurreyLearn quizzes (overall mark, answers and feedback comments to each question) and answers to worksheets provided for self assessment
formative feedback on group working and posters will be available, on request
Examplar questions will be made available via SurreyLearn, with peer assessment during final tutorial

Reading list

Reading list for EVOLUTIONARY ORIGINS OF BIODIVERSITY : http://aspire.surrey.ac.uk/modules/bms1040

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 2017/8 academic year.