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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

BLGY1124 The Diversity of Life

10 creditsClass Size: 40

Module manager: Professor J Paul Knox

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

Pre-requisite qualifications

A reasonable science background at A-level or equivalent

This module is mutually exclusive with

BLGY1128Living Planet

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module will cover:- the origin of life- the full range of life on earth, plants, animals and micro-organisms, - how they are classified, - how they evolved, - how they interact and- how they are studied. The course will look at the origins of life, its diversity, and the way that the environment has shaped the evolution of organisms over geological time. To understand these concepts, you will learn about systematics, taxonomy, evolution, physiology, morphology and the application of molecular studies. These topics will allow you to understand the complexity of life on earth as it is today, and in the past, as well as the importance of appreciating biodiversity in society today.


This module is about life on earth - the animals, plants and micro-organisms we see around us, why they live where they do and how they have adapted to their environments.

This course is suitable for students with an interest in biology and an acceptable scientific background. The course is presented from an evolutionary perspective. You will learn about the current understanding of the relationships between different groups of organisms and consider the timescale over which evolutionary changes have occurred.

The course covers details for a range of organisms and how natural selection has modified structure, metabolism, physiology and behaviour to equip them for their way of life.
- Why do we see such rich and complex communities?
- Why should we think evolution happened, and happens?

Learning outcomes
- An appreciation of the origin of diversity of life, covering the three domains and classification of Eukaryotic supergroups;
- Knowledge of the terminology used to describe species' form and function;
- An appreciation of why certain species are studied and research methodologies used;
- Knowledge of the sequence of the development of life on earth;
- An understanding of the significance and scope of the concept of natural selection and of the historical background to Darwinism;
- Knowledge of the relationship between systematics and evolutionary biology.

Skills outcomes
- Understanding the origin and diversity of life and why it is studied.
- Developing analytical skills through online MCQs


The lecture course gives an introduction to the origin of life and the diverse life forms found on earth. Examples given range from microbes and single celled organisms through to invertebrates, insects, mammals and birds, and from algae through to land plants. Not all groups are considered equally, some are given more attention due to our expertise and give an opportunity to consider some organisms in some depth.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours78.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

There will be 22 lectures

Students should expect to spend about 1 hour for each of these classes using the on-line resources, eg following up further links and practice MCQ-questions.

The remaining time (40 hours) should be spent preparing for the in-course assessment and exam.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Student attendance at lectures will be monitored in line with standard faculty practice.
- Students will be monitored by in-course assessment.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
In-course MCQFormative on-line test (week 6)0.00
In-course MCQSummative on-line test (week 11)20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)20.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)1 hr 30 mins80.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)80.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 25/04/2019


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