Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024


Department: Biosciences


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Level 1 Molecules and Cells BIOL1281 .


  • At least one other Level 2 Biological Sciences Module.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To study the fundamental principles underpinning plant and algal physiology.
  • To study physiology in a comparative sense by examining similarities and differences between species and kingdoms.
  • To study the links between phenotype and genotype by examining the molecular bases of physiological processes.


  • Photosynthesis and responses to light.
  • Water balance and transport; nutrient uptake and balance.
  • Abiotic stress at eh whole organism level.
  • The genetic and biochemical bases of responses to abiotic stresses.
  • Plant hormones and the control of gene expression.
  • The algal kingdom.
  • Biotechnological exploitation of algae.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of the functioning of key plant and algal physiological systems and the molecular basis of these.
  • Knowledge of the fundamentals of plant water relations, mineral nutrition, integration of carbon and nutrients in growth and development.
  • Knowledge of the plant morphological and physiological responses and adaptations to variations in selected environmental variables, including those of extreme environments.
  • Knowledge of the range of algal organisms, and their use in biotechnological applications.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Understanding of techniques used to investigate plant and algal physiology from the whole organism scale to the molecular scale.
  • To be able to integrate understanding and knowledge across a range of scales and levels (molecular, cellular, physiological and morphological/functional) to understand the key issues related to plant and algal functioning and survival.
Key Skills:
  • Numeracy, in data analysis, and calculations involved in data handling problems.
  • IT skills, in use of software packages.
  • Communication skills, using the written word and graphics, involved in physiology practical reports.
  • Team work.
  • 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 Exercises 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 Exercises are based on subject-specific knowledge and demonstrate subject-specific skills in understanding experimental work and data analysis.
  • Problem Exercises (Data Handling) demonstrate subject-specific skills in data handling and key skills in numeracy.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 24 Weekly 2 hours p/w 24
Practical Exercises 2 1 per term 4 hours 8
Workshops 6 2-3 per term 6 hours 8
Tutorials 2 1 per term 1 hour 2
Preparation & Reading 158
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research proposal 50% Yes
Presentation 50% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessments will be provided to develop the skills for each summative assessment as appropriate.

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