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Animals are faced with innumerable challenges across their lifetime that must be overcome if individuals are to survive and reproduce, and ultimately for species to persist. Many of these challenges, such as how to move, how to respire, how to sense your environment, how to feed, and how to reproduce, are ubiquitous across the animal kingdom, but have been solved in unique ways by different phyla.
Animal Structure and Function is a lecture and laboratory-based subject that explores the amazing morphological diversity of life and how this has evolved to meet essential biological functions. The course is structured around a series of key ‘biological challenges’ within which we will compare and contrast different ‘biological solutions’ to the same problem across animals ranging from corals through to apes. In the practicals, you will learn how to classify animals and interpret their features, and develop an integrated understanding of animal diversity and the evolutionary forces that drive this.
Intended learning outcomes
Upon completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- explain similarities and differences in the morphology of animals dealing with the same 'life challenge', and place these in an evolutionary context;
- demonstrate an understanding of the unique adaptations of animals that allow them to occupy diverse habitats;
- identify common organisms to broad groups (e.g. Phyla) using key diagnostic features;
- effectively communicate key scientific concepts through written work; and
- undertake intermediate-level practical laboratory tasks in handling and experimenting with animals and biological specimens.
On completion of this subject students should have developed the following generic skills:
- ability to apply theories and principles to subject-specific content;
- development of scientific writing and research skills, including how to evaluate the quality of evidence and use this to construct written and verbal arguments;
- capacity to work constructively with colleagues to complete set tasks; and
- competency in standard laboratory procedures for working with animals.
Last updated: 2 December 2023