ZOOL30010 Functional Morphology

Academic Year 2020/2021

The study of the subject that we now call functional morphology has a rich history, but major advances in technology now permit us to precisely investigate questions of how animals move, how the circulatory system works, or why respiratory systems are constructed differently in across clades. This module explores the construction and composition of animals (primarily the vertebrates). Skeletal mechanics, biophysics & mechanics, and comparative anatomy form integral parts of this unit. Mathematical concepts of scale, optimization and locomotion are explored.

A basic knowledge of physics and mathematics is assumed for students entering this module. Competency in spreadsheet programs (such as MS Excel) is also assumed. Students should familiarize themselves with the basics of statistics prior to this course.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to:
- Understand the basics of skeletal biomechanics;
- Understand the ranges of movements seen in animals;
- Explain the basics of functional morphology and know the difference between 'analogy' and 'phylogenetic' comparison;
- Understand how horses run and fish swim;
- Appreciate basics of fluid mechanics;
- Understand how circulatory and respiratory systems function.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures and lab-based practical exercises. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

2nd year bioiogy courses

Learning Recommendations:

Basic maths: An understanding of calculus and probability/statistics will be very helpful.

An understanding of how to use MS Excel (particularly mathematical formulae) is assumed.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Examination: End of semester examination 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No


Lab Report: Continuous write-up of class practical work Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback will be given to students, post-assessment, for lab reports.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.

Laboratory Offering 1 Week(s) - 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 29, 30, 31 Fri 11:00 - 12:50 Face to Face
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 31 Mon 13:00 - 13:50 Face to Face
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 Wed 12:00 - 12:50 Face to Face