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Module BSX-3145:
Fish Physiology

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Prof Simon Webster

Overall aims and purpose

On successful completion of the module, students will:

  1. Have a broad knowledge of the biology of fishes, based on a holistic philosophy: from molecule to whole organism.

  2. Understand fundamental physiological processes unique to the group, including osmoregulation, reproductive strategies, locomotion and control of density, Physiology of sensory systems, developmental biology of fish.

  3. Have a knowledge of whole organism aspects of fish biology, including, migration, population ecology, exploitation and aquaculture.

Course content

The module is based on holistic concepts. The study of fish biology from molecule to whole organism. Topics included will be fish diversity and basal groups, evolution and developmental biology. Physiological mechanisms: sensory modalities, density regulation, adaptations to unusual environments: Deep sea, extreme environments. Reproductive physiology, endocrinology. Whole organism biology: Migration, population ecology and aquaculture.

Assessment Criteria


The student should demonstrate comprehensive factual knowledge, critical understanding of theory, evidence of extra reading of primary literature and the ability to integrate this extra knowledge in a relevant manner.


The students should be able to express a basic factual knowledge of at least some part of the core material presented in the module, and be able to appreciate how the physiology of an organism fits it for its environment.


The student should be able to express a thorough factual knowledge of much of the core material presented in the module, and have a competent and detailed ability to critically evaluate the principles and processes governing the interactions of organisms and their environment. Some evidence of further reading and ability to integrate material from the full range of the lecture content.

Learning outcomes

  1. Engagement with the essential facts, major concepts, principles and theories associated with Fish Physiology (Benchmark 3.1).

  2. Demonstrate an appreciation of the complexity and diversity of life processes through the study of organisms, their molecular, cellular and physiological processes (Benchmark 3.3).

  3. Demonstrate an ability to analyse, synthesise and summarise information critically (Benchmark 3.5).

  4. Develop oral presentation skills, and interpersonal and teamwork skills by working jointly with other students in practical classes. (Benchmarks 3.4, 3.7 & 3.8).

  5. Develop the skills necessary for developing the skills necessary for self-managed and lifelong learning (Benchmark 3.9).

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Prac Rep 1 Dogfish/Trout 25
Final Exam Section A - Essay 25
Final Exam Section B - Short Answers 25
Prac Rep 2 Molecular 25

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Lecture 20

6 x 3h practicals covering a) Introduction and handling equipment, b) Dogfish and Trout dissections c) Gene Expression using PCR, d) Bioinformatics, e) Help and Discussion sessions.

Private study

Additional individual reading and reseach using appropriate resources (online, library)


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • 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
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Engagement with current developments in the biosciences and their application.
  • 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.

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module