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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

BLGY1128 Living Planet

20 creditsClass Size: 200

Module manager: Dr Josie South

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is mutually exclusive with

BLGY1124The Diversity of Life

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Living Planet provides students with an overview of the evolution and diversity of life, from bacteria to whales. As well as an overview of the evolutionary processes that have generated the world’s biodiversity, students will also learn about the key features that define each group and the role of those taxa in ecological processes. Finally, each group of organisms will be linked to a major global challenge including food security, disease, and wildlife conservation, to demonstrate how fundamental science informs important societal issues.


The goal of the module is to introduce all School of Biology students to biological principles from whole organisms to planetary scales. Key features include:
(i) an introduction to evolution as the mechanism by which biodiversity is produced,
(ii) a broad overview of key taxa,
(iii) a summary of ecological principles from population to community to ecosystem to biosphere, and
(iv) the linking of that fundamental knowledge to solutions to real world problems.

Learning outcomes
By the end of the module, students will be able to
- Understand the principles of evolution by natural selection and how they have created global biodiversity.
- Explain the defining traits of a range of biological taxa, and the mechanisms by which they evolved.
- Apply their understanding of the biology of a wide array of taxa to design solutions to global challenges.


The module will run over 11 weeks, beginning with the origins of life, then moving through the evolution of key taxa, and finishing with a summary of ecological principles. Two didactic lectures are given each week, with a less-formal (but still assessed) third seminar on a “Grand Challenge” that is informed by our study of the focal taxon/topic.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours72.00
Private study hours100.00
Total Contact hours28.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Independent learning will be structured through the provision of online lectures that will contain mini-lecture teaching blocks. These lectures and associated materials provide the stimulus for the students’ own outside reading which they use to prepare themselves for the grand challenge lectures. Mini-lectures are designed to be paused so that students can read papers as they are mentioned in the lectures. In addition, periodic MRQs are open-book and encourage students to seek out the answers to the questions using wider reading and content from the course (two hours of reading per week). Private study revolves around consolidation of the material learned during the in-class sessions (5-10 hours per week).

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Panels of formative MCQs will be released after weeks of teaching. These will enable practice of the style and content of the summative MCQ during the module.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
In-course MCQMCQ online in Minerva25.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)25.00

Further guidance on the assessment will be provided in the module handbook/Minerva.

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment0 hr 45 mins75.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)75.00

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: 15/11/2022


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