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Module BSX-2030:
Integrated Zoology

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Prof Nia Whiteley

Overall aims and purpose

To provide an introduction to the structure and function of the respiratory, nervous, reproductive and endocrine systems of invertebrates and vertebrates. The module uses a comparative approach to compare and contrast key physiological systems across the Animal Kingdom.

Course content

The module will examine the physiological systems that have evolved in animals to facilitate respiratory gas exchange, and the co-ordination and control of challenges from the internal and external environment. The respiratory system is responsible for the transfer and transport of oxygen and carbon dioxide from the environment into the blood, and from the blood into the tissues. The rapid transfer around the body of information concerning both the external and internal environment and the control of complex functions, such as behaviour and memory, is the province of the nervous system, while longer term processes like growth and development, metabolism, metamorphosis and reproduction are under endocrine or neuro-endocrine control. Together these form a highly organised integrated system, designed to ensure the survival of the organism. This module examines the anatomy and functioning of the various divisions of the respiratory, nervous and reproductive systems, and traces the relationship of the latter to the endocrine system through neuro-secretory cells. Comparisons are made across both invertebrates and vertebrates.

Assessment Criteria


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


A good student should have a thorough 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 background reading.


A threshold student should have a basic knowledge of the essential facts and key concepts of the comparative physiology of respiratory, nerve, reproductive and endocrine systems of animals presented in the module. Written answers should demonstrate an ability to organise relevant lecture material into a coherent argument.

Learning outcomes

  1. 5 Outline the structure and the function of the nervous system: invertebrates vs vertebrates.

  2. 2 Outline the structure and the function of the respiratory system: invertebrates vs vertebrates.

  3. 10 Critically evaluate and analyse the results obtained and present the data is a suitable format.

  4. 4 Outline the structure and the function of the reproductive system: invertebrates vs vertebrates.

  5. 8 Discuss the role of hormones in the control of homeostasis, growth, metabolism, reproduction and development in both invertebrates and vertebrates.

  6. 11 Integrate information from a range of sources to discuss the data in the light of the information already present in the current literature base.

  7. 7 Discuss the underlying role of the nervous system in the co-ordination of behaviour, learning and memory.

  8. 3 Show knowledge of the means by which oxygen and carbon dioxide are transported to the tissues.

  9. 1 Review the organisation and evolution of the respiratory, nervous and reproductive systems.

  10. 6 Show knowledge of the mechanisms involved during action potentials and synaptic transmission.

  11. 9 Obtain, interpret and synthesise information from background reading and use it to effectively supplement lecture notes.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Practical Report 1 25
Practical Report 2 25
Final Exam (MCQ + Short Ans) 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Introduce students to integrative zoology by comparing and contrasting respiratory, nervous, reproductive and endocrine systems across taxa via a series of lectures.

Practical classes and workshops

Six h of practical work in total plus 2 x 1 h workshops to help students analyse and interpret the resulting data.

Private study

Independent study hours


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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Undertake field and/or laboratory studies of living systems.
  • Undertake practical work to ensure competence in basic experimental skills.


Resource implications for students

Available to the students via the library.

Reading list

Animal Physiology. Eds Hill, Wyse and Anderson. Sinauer Associates. 2016. 828 pages.

Animal Physiology Adaptation and Environment. Knut Schmidt-Nielson. 5th Ed. Cambridge University Press.

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules


Pre-requisite of:

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: