Module BSX-2028:
Introduction to Herpetology

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Wolfgang Wuster

Overall aims and purpose

The purpose and aim of this module is to impart on the students an understanding of the diversity of amphibians and reptiles, their role in the conceptual advancement of ecology and evolutionary biology, and the regulatory physiological processes, speciation and reproductive biology of these animals, as well as their conservation and other inter-relationships with humanity and the evolution of venomous reptiles.

Course content

Lectures will cover:

  • Evolutionary trends
  • Reproduction, Physiology and Function
  • Community Structure
  • Conservation
  • Venom and venom evolution

Practicals on:

  • Amphibian biology
  • Diversity and locomotion
  • Venom function and analysis

Assessment Criteria

good

B- to B+: A good student should have thorough factual knowledge across all aspects of the module, and be able to name examples where appropriate. Written answers should demonstrate an ability to think about the subject and to synthesise lecture material and some information from background reading. Practical reports should display a good level of understanding of data, analysis, interpretation and presentation

threshold

D- to D+: A threshold student should have a basic knowledge of the essential facts and key concepts of herpetology presented in the module. Written answers should demonstrate an ability to organise relevant lecture material into a coherent argument. Practical reports should demonstrate a basic ability to analyse data and interpret and present results

excellent

A- to A+: An excellent student should have a high levels of detailed factual knowledge across all aspects of the module, and be able to detail examples where appropriate. Written answers should demonstrate an ability to think critically about the subject and to synthesise lecture material and information from extensive background reading. Practical reports should display a high level of critical understanding of data, analysis, interpretation and presentation

C- to C+

C- to C+: A Class 2.2 student should have a moderate levels of factual knowledge across most aspects of the module, and be able to provide some examples where appropriate. Written answers should demonstrate a reasonable grasp the subject and tlecture material. Practical reports should display a moderate level of understanding of data, analysis, interpretation and presentation.

Learning outcomes

  1. Critically discuss the origin and evolutionary biology of venom in reptiles

  2. Explain the major regulatory processes and discuss their advantages and limitations.

  3. Critically evaluate the threats facing amphibian and reptile species and understand some ways in which they can be countered.

  4. Evaluate the evolutionary and ecological significance of amphibians and reptiles, and describe some major evolutionary trends within each group.

  5. Design and undertake practical work focusing on different aspects of herpetology

  6. Acquire practical skills and and experience relevant to different facets of herpetology

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
EXAM End of module exam 40
Written assignment, including essay Practical 1 - feeding and locomotion

Practical on feeding and diversity in reptiles and amphibians, assessed by online test

20
COURSEWORK Practical - toxinology OR amphibian locomotion

Students attend and do two practicals on anuran locomotion and methods in toxinology, and choose which one to write up as a practical report.

40

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Private study

Individual study: - Data analysis - Practical report writing - Revision of lecture material and additional reading

168
Practical classes and workshops

Three practicals:

  • Diversity and locomotion
  • Amphibian biology
  • Venom function

Data analysis and report write-up supported by help sessions where required

12
Lecture

Might possibly involve standing in front of the class explaining things to them

20

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations

Subject specific skills

  • Develop and identify research question(s) and/or hypotheses as the basis for investigation.
  • Conduct fieldwork and/or laboratory work competently with awareness of appropriate risk assessment and ethical considerations
  • Apply subject knowledge to the understanding and addressing of problems.
  • Appreciation of the complexity and diversity of life processes through the study of organisms.
  • Undertake field and/or laboratory studies of living systems.
  • Undertake practical work to ensure competence in basic experimental skills.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the importance of risk assessment and relevant legislation

Resources

Resource implications for students

None

Reading list

Links to relevant papers will be provided via Blackboard

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: