Module code: BMS2062

Module provider

School of Biosciences and Medicine

Module Leader

VAN DER VEEN DR Dr (Biosc & Med)

Number of Credits


ECT Credits



FHEQ Level 5

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 2

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 108

Lecture Hours: 26

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Practical based assessment LAB REPORT: HEART DISSECTION 15%

Alternative Assessment

It will be possible to set modified versions of the allometrics and heart dissection based on virtual resources, should the timetable sessions be missed with extenuating circumstances, or the reports require re-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). If only the poster presentation session was missed this may be carried out in the form of a short, viva style assessment carried out by two members of academic staff.

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


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 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
Compare and contrast the principles of development in vertebrates and invertebrates K
Recognise the types of behaviour shown within the animal kingdom and evaluate the impact of ecology and lifestyle on such behaviour K
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
Apply strategies for comparing diverse animal species to novel biological features K
Work both individually and as part of a team to identify and achieve goals T
Develop strategies for identifying and obtaining the information required to address a biological question: developing lifelong learning skills T
Integrate information from a variety of sources in order to address a biological question T
Communicate information gathered effectively using appropriate scientific language T

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

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

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: ~25 h
• Practicals / software training: total ~6 h
• External visit (lectures plus directed learning): 8 h
• Poster presentation (peer learning as well as assessment): 3 h
• Plus tutorials

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate comprehension, application, analysis and some synthesis of knowledge, rather than recall of information.  As such the major assessment component is not examination based, instead it requires students to do additional research and to draw upon knowledge gathered throughout the module in order to construct and present a well structured and well reasoned comparison of systems and species of choice.  Additional coursework, based on practical reports, will demonstrate understanding of more specific topics.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

Allometric modelling exercise: 15%
A two page summary of the exercise including data presentation, analysis and interpretation. To be submitted 2 weeks after computer lab.
Heart dissection report: 15%
Figures, measurements and answers to questions; up to 3 pages
Deadline: 2 weeks after practical
Research project: 45%
A selection of problems will be set which can be tackled from a variety of perspectives during the external visit (Marwell Park) and with further research; these will aim to explore physiological / developmental or behavioural aspects of diverse organisms. Groups of 4 will select a topic which they will research and present as a poster. Assessment of posters by the module team will be during a poster session (timetabled during week 37, final teaching week) and will compromise assessment of the poster and responses to questions; this will carry 40% of the marks for the exercise. Each student will individually prepare an executive summary (40% weighting) and the remaining 20% of marks will be based on peer assessment within the group.
Multiple Choice Exam 25%

      A selection of 50 multiple choice questions covering all lecture content; duration 1 hour, exam period.


Formative assessment and feedback will be available 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, as required

Reading list

Reading list for ANIMAL BIOLOGY :

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.