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Module BSX-3158:
Advances in 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 engage Zoology with Herpetology BSc and MZool students with current scientific issues and developments in herpetology, to foster critical thinking and communication skills on herpetological topics, to develop field experience and skills and to gain an insight into different lines of work involving herpetofauna in the UK

Course content

The module will contain lectures on aspects of venom evolution, conservation, reproductive strategies and acoustic communication. The major practical aspect consists of a mini-project on frog acoustic communication. There will be visits to field sites to study breeding biology, conservation and monitoring of native reptiles and amphians, and visits to zoos and/or research institutions working with reptiles and amphibians.

Assessment Criteria


40-49%: 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


60-69%: 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


70-100%: 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

Learning outcomes

  1. Engage with the essential facts, current issues, principles and theories relating to herpetology. Demonstrate and apply this subject-specific knowledge and understanding.

  2. Demonstrate the ability to read and use appropriate literature, with a full and critical understanding, and communicate this verbally and in writing.

  3. Demonstrate the skills necessary for self-managed and lifelong learning (undertaking directed reading, time management, working to a deadline)

  4. Show an appreciation of field methods in UK-based reptile and amphibian monitoring and population assessment.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Frog Call Practical 40
Debate & Presentation (Peer Marked) 20
Field Course Assessment 25
Abstract of Guest Lecture 15

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Practical classes and workshops

Mini-project on analysis of acoustic communications in frogs, including help sessions and trouble-shooting sessions.

Private study

Reading, writing and data analysis for mini-project. Preparation of Seminars/debates - reading, practice etc. Writing and analysis of field notes Lecture abstract


Student-led debates on current issues of topical interest in herpetology

External visit

Visit to external institution (zoo, research institute of conservation body)


Field courses to gain experience of assessments of habitat suitability assessments, monitoring strategies and conservation practice in relation to UK herpetofauna




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.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • 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

  • 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
  • Recognize and apply appropriate theories and concepts from a range of disciplines.
  • Consider issues from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.
  • Apply subject knowledge to the understanding and addressing of problems.
  • Collect, analyse and interpret primary and/or secondary data using appropriate qualitative and/or quantitative techniques.
  • Engagement with current developments in the biosciences and their application.
  • Appreciation of the complexity and diversity of life processes through the study of organisms.
  • Engage in debate and/or discussion with specialists and non-specialists using appropriate language.
  • 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


Resource implications for students


Reading list

No core text, module depends mostly on research literature.

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module