Study Abroad and Exchanges



BIO1007 : Introduction to Marine Vertebrates

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


The aims of this module are to introduce the wide variety of vertebrates (fish, reptiles, birds and mammals) that inhabit marine ecosystems, focussing on their adaptations to the marine environment.

Outline Of Syllabus

During the course of the module, students will learn about marine animals with a particular emphasis on the diversity of forms within the various classes e.g. fish, reptiles, seabirds and marine mammals. The module will also introduce the classification and morphology of these organisms. Furthermore, we shall investigate how marine vertebrates undertake various functions within their environment such as feeding, locomotion and reproduction and how these relate to the life history strategies. Practical classes to familiarise you with the anatomy of fish will complement the lecture course and a field trip to the Farne Islands will provide a close encounter with a range of seabirds and seals.

12 x 1 hour lectures on:
1. Hemichordata and Urochodata (SM)
2. Fish Anatomy (MB)
3. Fish Reproduction (MB)
4. Fish Migration (MB)
5. Return to the Sea – Marine Reptiles (RMB)
6. Marine Mammals I (RMB)
7. Marine Mammals II (RMB)
8. Seabirds I (RMB)
9. Seabirds II (RMB)
10. Population Dynamics of Marine Vertebrates (RMB)
11. Human Impacts on Marine Vertebrates I (RMB)
12. Human Impacts on Marine Vertebrates II (RMB)

2 x 3 hour practicals on:
1. Fish Diversity (SM & MB)
2. Fish (Merlangius) Dissection (SM & MB)

1 x all day field trip visit:
3. Seabirds and Seals – Farne Islands Field Trip (including 1 hour briefing if required) (RMB)

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture141:0014:00Including Tutorials
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion11:001:00Exam
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:307:00Revision for Exam
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion16:006:00Practical write up (Formative Assessment)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion18:008:00Assessed pc based practical
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion115:0015:00Assessed Field Report
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical13:003:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork18:008:00Field Practical
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study140:4510:30Lecture follow up
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study127:3027:30Study of lectures, ReCap, Blackboard etc.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The information received through formal lectures will be integrated with experience in practical laboratory classes and supported by independent study using textbook and Web-based sources of secondary information. Practical and Field sessions are designed to introduce students to key concepts and allow them the opportunity to develop expertise in a range of fundamental scientific skills. These skills include: observing organisms to produce accurate annotated drawings, complete dissections to investigate the external and internal anatomy of marine organisms, and make observations of marine vertebrates in the natural environment.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
PC Examination602A60N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report2M20Seabird Biology (20%)
Computer assessment2M201 x Fish Biodiversity (20%)
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Practical/lab report2MFish Dissection
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The PC examination (60%) will include questions to assess the breadth of knowledge acquired throughout the module and will give students the opportunity to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the material.

The two practical sessions one formative (fish dissection), one summative (fish biodiversity) which will comprise 20% of the overall coursework assessment. The exercises are designed to develop:
- Skills in both team working and independent laboratory study
- Observational skills
- Vertebrate dissection techniques

The fieldwork report, comprising 20% of the overall coursework, is designed to develop:
- Information retrieval skills
- Synthesis of the information discovered

To ensure that students have achieved a sufficient level of knowledge and skills, students are required to attain at least 30% in the exam in order to pass the module. For students failing to attain at least 30% in the exam, the module mark will be the exam mark without the inclusion of the in-course assessment marks.

Reading Lists