Module Information

Module Identifier
BR14310
Module Title
Evolution and the Diversity of Life
Academic Year
2017/2018
Co-ordinator
Semester
Semester 1
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 x 1 Hour Lectures
Practical 2 x 4 Hour Practicals
 

Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Coursework  (1500 words maximum)  50%
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   50%
Supplementary Assessment Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to the failure of the module.  50%
Supplementary Exam 1.5 Hours   Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to the failure of the module.  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Identify the features of key plant and animal phyla.

2. Compare and contrast the morphology and anatomy of the major groups and be able to identify representatives of the groups.

3. Discuss physiological adaptations in the context of environmental conditions.

4. Explain how different classification systems are defined and used.

5. Describe the diversity and evolutionary history of a taxon of organisms through the construction of a basic phyologentic tree and accompanying narrative.

Brief description

This module uses a comparative approach to explore the amazing diversity of life on Earth. We will explore unicellular life, plants, invertebrates, the origin of vertebrates, evolution of tetrapods and the diversity of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. As we try to make sense of the diversity of life on our planet we will explore taxonomy, phylogenetics and cladistics (ways to name organisms, classify and work out evolutionary relationships between them). We will explore key concepts in evolution (e.g. micro-evolutionary events, macro-evolutionary events, natural selection and adaptation) to understand how life has evolved.

You will explore key concepts in taxonomy and phylogenetics through practical classes. You will use your new theoretical knowledge and practical skills to build a basic tree of life to describe the diversity and evolutionary history of a selected group (taxon) of organisms.

Content

This module uses a comparative approach to explore life on our planet. Through consideration of the three domains of life (Archaea, Bacteria and Eukaryota) we will explore the key features and selected examples of unicellular life, plants, invertebrates and vertebrates.

We will explore key questions such as:
How has life on Earth evolved?
What organisms do we share our planet with?
How can we put all of the organisms on our planet into some sort of order?
Which organisms are related to each other and what evidence do we have of these relationships?

Taxonomy, phylogenetics and cladistics will be introduced and key concepts in evolution (e.g. micro-evolutionary events, macro-evolutionary events, natural selection and adaptation) will be explored.

The practical classes will introduce students to core elements of taxonomy and phylogenetics. Students will use their theoretical knowledge and practical skills to build a basic tree of life to describe the diversity and evolutionary history of a selected taxon of organisms (tree of life coursework).

The module will be assessed through submission of the tree of life coursework and an exam at the end of the Semester.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Collection and scrutiny of data in terms of quality and quantity. Data interpretation and analysis.
Communication Students will develop effective written communication skills in the examination and coursework. Feedback will be given.
Improving own Learning and Performance Outside the formal contact hours, students will be expected to research materials, manage time and meet deadlines for the coursework and exam. Students will be able to review and monitor their progress and plan for improvement of personal performance. Some of these elements will be assessed in both the examination and coursework. Feedback will be given.
Information Technology Students will use online learning resources to explore core principles of taxonomy and phylogenetics. Students will use a variety of software to reconstruct phylogenies.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will gain core skills in effective learning and revision strategies.
Problem solving Practical classes will allow students to gain experience in interpreting and analyzing data and writing-up assessed coursework. Students will develop creative approaches to experimental design, critically evaluate their proposed solutions and construct rational proposals in response to experimental challenge.
Research skills Accessing appropriate sources (including the web) for reliable (authentic) information sources and using databases to find information in preparation for the assignments and the exam. Use of information technology will be assessed in both the assignment and exam. Feedback will be given.
Subject Specific Skills Students will gain key skills in the description of the diversity of life and basic phylogenetic reconstruction. Students will be able to recognise and describe key features of selected examples of unicellular organisms, plants, invertebrates and vertebrates. Students will be able to describe core principles underpinning taxonomy, phylogenetics and cladistics. Students will use a variety of software to reconstruct phylogenies. Students will be able to describe key evolutionary concepts.
Team work Students will work in pairs/small groups during practical sessions. They will need to discuss their experimental design and work effectively as a small team in practical classes. This will not be assessed.

Notes

This module is at CQFW Level 4