Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
BR13110 or BR11520 A or AS level Biology
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 1 x 2 hour lectures per week
Practical 4 x 3 hour practicals during semester
Other 7 x 1 hour workshops


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Assessment of slides, specimens and written reports produced in practical classes  50%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Written paper (2 essay questions)  50%
Supplementary Assessment 100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Describe the main organ systems of different vertebrate classes in terms of structure and function

2. Evaluate adaptations of vertebrate organ systems to different living environments (e.g. marine vs. terrestrial)

3. Prepare dissection specimens to display the structures of vertebrate tissues, organs and organ systems

Brief description

This module focuses on practical skills in comparative anatomy of vertebrates. It is built around workshops and dissections involving representatives of the major vertebrate groups (mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish).


Four dissection practicals involving a mammal, a bird, a reptile or amphibian and a fish. Lectures will describe the evolution, form and function of vertebrate organ systems with reference to these examples. Workshops will allow students to extend discussion of vertebrate anatomical diversity, bringing in examples from their self-directed study.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Students are encouraged to develop a basic working knowledge of geometry in order to understand the biomechanics of vertebrates. Practicals also require the application of number in preparing dilutions, calculating magnification, etc.
Communication Weekly workshops require students to present their findings in the form of a brief oral presentation or hand-drawn poster.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students receive written feedback on practicals, providing them with a basis to assess and improve their performance. Students are also able to present and discuss ideas with their peers and lecturers during the weekly workshops, providing them with verbal feedback, constructive criticism and encouragement.
Information Technology Students are encouraged to obtain information from recent research publications, accessed using ISI Web of Science and other internet resources for use in their exam answers.
Personal Development and Career planning Students are provided with opportunities to handle and examine vertebrate material, often for the first time in a scientific context. Students are also provided with opportunities to discuss specific areas of vertebrate zoology that are of interest to them. These features of the module often prompt students to reflect upon their scientific interests and career aspirations.
Problem solving Each week, students receive two formal lectures followed by a workshop. In the workshops, students undertake problem-solving exercises in which they apply knowledge gained during the previous two lectures.
Research skills Dissections require students to demonstrate practical research skills. Students are encouraged to include information from recent research publications in their exam answers.
Subject Specific Skills The dissection practicals require students to reveal and interpret the tissues and anatomy of an organism. These practical skills are vital for the study of zoology.
Team work The weekly workshops also require students to discuss ideas and solve problems in groups.


This module is at CQFW Level 5