Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)


Department: Biosciences


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap 288 Location Durham


  • • 'A' Level Biology OR Chemistry.


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To survey the global diversity of life, and the adaptation of organisms to the range of environments.
  • To introduce evolution in the context of the diversification of different groups of organisms.
  • To introduce the concepts of ecology, and explore the role of behaviour in determining interactions between species and individuals.
  • To survey existing ecosystems and their responses to changing global conditions.


  • The diversity of life - an introduction to classification and evolution.
  • Plants and fungi - an introduction to their physiology.
  • Evolution of lower animals.
  • Introduction to behaviour and its roles in animal biology. #
  • Ecosystems - an introductory survey.
  • Ecology and conservation - an introduction

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Introductory-level knowledge of the theory of evolution, and an understanding of how the diversity of modern life forms has evolved.
  • An understanding of the kingdoms of living organisms, and how they are differentiated.
  • Basic knowledge of the physiology of major processes in plants.
  • Introductory knowledge of how organisms interact with each other, and the environment, to form ecosystems
  • Basic understanding of the role of changing environments in conservation of species.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To be able to carry out and report on experimental and field work in whole organism biology.
  • To be able to apply problem-solving skills to practical problems in biology and ecology, including the use of mathematics, data analysis and statistics.
Key Skills:
  • Numeracy, in data analysis, and calculations involved in biology and ecology practical work and problems.
  • Communication skills, using the written word and graphics, involved in biology practical reports.
  • Team work, working in small groups in biology and ecology practical classes.
  • Self-motivation, in self-guided learning.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures deliver subject-specific knowledge.
  • Workshops reinforce subject-specific knowledge and understanding gained from lectures and the development of key and subject-specific skills.
  • Practical classes and fieldwork allow students to utilise subject-specific knowledge gained from lectures, and support the development of key and subject-specific skills.
  • Tutorials give enhancement of the student learning experience, supporting attainment of all learning outcomes.
  • Self-guided learning contributes to subject-specific knowledge and self-motivation.
  • Practical and fieldwork reports are based on subject-specific knowledge and demonstrate subject-specific skills in carrying out field and experimental work and data analysis, as well as key skills.
  • Problem Exercises (Data Handling) demonstrate subject-specific skills in data handling and key skills in numeracy applied to biology and ecology.
  • Unseen examinations demonstrate achievement of the appropriate level of subject-specific knowledge of biology and ecology, with an emphasis on understanding and communication (essay and problem-based questions) or recall of factual knowledge (multiple choice or short answer question tests).

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 35 Weekly 2 hours p/w 35
Practicals 4 2 per term 4 hours 16
Workshops & Tutorials 4 2 per term 1-3 hours 8
Preparation & Reading 141
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Unseen formal examination 2 hours 100% Yes - exam resit
Component: Continuous assessment Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Practical report 37.5% No
Practical report or Data handling 37.5% No
Departmental Test 25% No

Formative Assessment:

Work associated with non-summatively assessed practicals and workshops.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University