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BL2308 Vertebrate Zoology

SCOTCAT credits:15
Academic year(s):2017/8
SCQF Level 8
Planned timetable:Lectures: 11.00 am Mon, Tue, Wed (odd weeks) 11.00 am Mon, Tue (even weeks) Practicals: 2.00 pm - 5.00 pm Thu or Fri (weeks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 & 11)

This module will explore the diversity of vertebrate animals, beginning with the closest relatives of vertebrates and the evolutionary origins of the group. A detailed look at the defining characteristics of the body plans and lifestyles of the key vertebrate groups will illustrate how they carry out basic animal functions in similar or different ways. This will be put in an evolutionary context to reveal the patterns and trends in the vertebrates as a whole, while also highlighting current phylogenetic controversies. The module will then explore some common themes across the key groups, starting with the developmental biology of some vertebrate model systems and the lessons we can learn from these. We will also see how the highly developed brains of vertebrates have allowed the evolution of astonishing sensory capacities and of complex behaviours, and how these are different (or not) from invertebrates.

Place in programme(s) and relationship to other modules


Compulsory for Behavioral Biology, Ecology & Conservation, Evolutionary Biology and Zoology single honours degrees and MBiol integrated master’s degree

Optional for all other Biology degrees where timetabling allows.

UG Pre-requisite(s):BL1101 and BL1102
UG Anti-requisite(s):BL2102
UG Modules required for:BL3309, BL3315, BL3318, BL3323

Learning and teaching methods and delivery

Weekly contact:3 x 1-hour in even weeks and 2 x 1-hour in odd weeks, 3-hour practical (x 6 weeks)
Total module hours:
  • Scheduled learning: 42
  • Guided independent study: 108

Assessment pattern

UG As defined by QAA:
  • Written examinations: 50%
  • Practical examinations: 0%
  • Coursework: 50%
UG As used by St Andrews:2-hour Written Examination = 50%, Coursework = 50%
UG Re-assessment:2-Hour Written Examination = 50%, Existing Coursework = 50% (if Exam failed) Existing Examination = 50%, New Coursework = 50% (if Coursework failed) 2-hour Written Examination = 100% (if coursework and exam failed) 2-hour Written Examination = 100% (for Qualified Honours Entry)


Module coordinator:Dr V Dietrich-Bischoff
Module teaching staff:Team taught